In a landmark decision Oct. 1, a California Superior Court issued a ruling that two panels overseeing the Marine Life Protection Act are state agencies that must comply with the California Public Records Act.
The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Malloy & Natsis LLP, on behalf of Robert C. Fletcher, former president of the Sportfishing Association of California, a member organization in the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans.
Judge Patrick Mariette of the California Superior Court in Sacramento ruled that the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force and Master Plan Team are state agencies and therefore compelled by California Public Records Act to share information with representatives of angling/conservation organizations working to protect recreational ocean access.
Melvin de la Motte, president of Central Coast Fisheries Conservation Coalition noted that Mike Crisman, the former Resources Secretary for California, promised that the MLPA process would be open and transparent.
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“(Crisman) promised that stakeholders, including recreational and commercial fishermen, would have input in the process,” de la Motte said. “All of us that have participated in the process have seen that the process was rigged from the start. And most decisions were worked out by special interest groups behind closed doors. We’ve contended that these meetings deciding MLPA issues should be in the open.
“Many people in the CCFCC have been instrumental in fighting to protect our recreational fishing rights. The owners of Virg’s and Patriot Sportfishing and Davis Boats have been very helpful.
“The lawsuit is a step in the right direction. There are still questions whether this will impact the MLPAs that have already been established along the Central Coast.”
Fletcher said, “This ruling validates our long-held position that the groups implementing the MLPA and making decisions that result in closures of large areas of the Pacific Ocean to recreational activities cannot carry on as if they were not agencies of the state.”
Steve Fukuto, president of United Anglers of Southern California said: “Now we’ll get to see information that has been previously hidden from us about key decisions made by the BRTF and MPT.”
Directors of the Central Coast Fisheries Conservation Coalition approved a contribution of $10,000 “toward achieving the results such as the one handed down by Judge Mariette,” noted Bob Hather. “More litigation is probable.”
Meeks is on a roll
A veteran of 17 years of tournament bass fishing is on a roll just as the 2009-10 regular tournament campaign is wrapping up.
The most recent success by Atascadero’s Damon Meeks occurred last weekend at Nacimiento Lake, a venue where he has ruled in recent competitions.
“I’ve found three schools of fish and I’ve been rotating back and forth determining which group is biting,” Meeks said. “Last weekend was not bad at all.”
He can back that up assertion. He not only caught the big fish both Saturday and Sunday, but in the process won the final SLO County Bass Ambushers tournament and was crowned Angler of the Year.
“It was overcast on Saturday so I threw topwater baits all day. I had at least 30 fish,” Meeks said.It was windy Sunday and the bite was not as good.
“The conditions prompted me to change tactics,” Meeks said. “Drop shotting around docks worked for me.”
The 34-year-old weighed two limits, 10 fish that weighed 20.64 pounds. His big fish Saturday weighed 2.56 pounds while his Sunday big one went 2.70 pounds.
En route to his Angler of the Year achievement, he won four of the 10 events on the Ambushers’ schedule.
In September, he placed second in a night tournament at Nacimiento that ended at 1 a.m., and he came back at 5 the next morning for an Ambushers competition. He placed third in that one and had the big fish, too.
In late September Damon and partner Josh Brard won the Night Tournament Series TOC. Once more he caught the big fish (2.92 pounds). All of these events were at Nacimiento.
Meeks grew up four doors away from fellow bass fisherman Steve Bereda, the man he beat out for Angler of the Year. Bereda, who won three regular season Ambusher tournaments, placed second to Meeks last weekend in the final event as well as the AOY competition.
Meeks said: “I bought my first boat from Steve. It was a 13 ½-foot Boston Whaler. Guys in bigger bass boats beat me down the lake, but I learned how to catch fish.”
Seventeen years ago he began fishing Ambusher tournaments with his dad, Ken Meeks. They fished the Tri Valley circuit together this season.
New ABA Pacific Coast Tourney Season
No. 1 on the six-event 2010-11 season is scheduled Saturday at Santa Margarita Lake.
Tourney director Bobby Doss is hoping to attract possibly 50 teams. The average turnout last season was 24.3 teams. This season’s payout has been expanded to one of every three boats. Ten places would be paid with a 30-boat field and 15 places with a 50-boat field.
For more information, call 680-3180 or 937-1056.
Fishermen embarking out of the Sports Launch at Avila Beach last week caught 111 albacore, but none since Sept. 30.
Anglers out of Virg’s Landing caught 50 albacore on six trips between Sept. 26 and Oct. 2. There were 112 passengers aboard Virg’s boats.
Jackpot winners included Jake Jensen, Clovis, R. Kaeblle, Visalia, and Dan Dorsett, Bakersfield, each with 28-pound longfins.
A tuna run was scheduled to leave at 5 a.m. today and return at 8 p.m. Call 772-1222 for further trip information and reservations.Last week the Pacific Horizon ran two trips out of Patriot Sportfishing with 24 passengers catching 22 tuna. Operating out of the same landing, the Pacific Queen had five trips with 72 passengers. The catch was 47 albacore.
The Pacific Queen had 13 anglers on board Wednesday. As of 9 a.m., six tuna had been caught.
At 10 p.m. nightly, the Pacific Queen is scheduled to depart on albacore trips. Cost is $225. Call 595-7200 for reservations.
Central Coast Sportfishing
The Rita G ran out of Patriot Sportfishing on Oct. 2 with 19 passengers. Robert Castro, Bakersfield, had the jackpot fish, a 7-pound lingcod. The catch included one lingcod, 37 red rockcod, 76 assorted rockfish, 38 coppers and one kelp greenling.
For reservations and schedules, call 772-3474 or 704-2084.
Port San Luis Boatyard
Last week 73 boats were dispatched. Fish logged were 15 lingcod and 111 albacore. No fish were weighed, so no Whopper of the Week winner.
Prize money to be awarded in the season-long rockcod-lingcod tournament totals $6,634 through the end of September. The contest ends Oct. 31.
A tournament involving the 26 weekly big fish winners will be held Nov. 6. All paid anglers on rockcod trips are eligible to qualify for the tournament. There is no entry fee.
Jackpot winners last week included Brian Saggs of Hanford, a 7-pound lingcod, and Um Young Ho of Clovis, a 4-pound copper. The catch by 208 rockcod anglers included: Three lingcod, 92 red rockcod, 881 assorted rockfish and four coppers.
For reservations and trip schedules, call 772-1222.
Peter Gajic of Santa Monica caught last week’s big fish, a 10-pound lingcod.
There was no change in the top three places in the four-month long Lingcod Contest. Tied for first place are Fred Kenniston of Bakersfield and 12-year-old Jason Stubbs of Fresno, at 18 pounds, 6 ounces with Steve Robertson of Tulare in third place with an 18-pound lingcod.
Other jackpot winners were Jeremy Moser, Grover Beach, 9-10 cabezon; Danny Solis, Pismo Beach, 9-0 cabezon; Humberto Zul, Guadalupe, John Haskey, Bakersfield, and Ethan Romancheck, Maui, Hawaii, all 8-pound lings; Shawn Scott, Clovis, 4-0 bocaccio; and Russ Bryan, Hesperia, 4-0 vermillion.
The catch by 194 passengers last week included: 12 lingcod, 234 red rockcod, 594 assorted rockfish,, 368 bolina, 12 cabezon, one bocaccio and one thresher shark.
For reservations and trip schedules, call 595-7200.
John Hernandez of Oceano caught a 41⁄2-pound largemouth while fishing in Cottonwood Cove with a nightcrawler Sept. 27. A catch-and-release angler caught 13 bass on Oct. 1.
One angler and no trout for the fourth straight week is the story from the reservoir at Cayucos. Year-to-date figures for 120 days of fishing over a 24-week span are 237 anglers and 22 trout caught.