An unlikely trio waltzed away with the prize money in Virg’s Landing’s year-end saltwater fishing tournament.
An octogenarian, a 22-year-old female bartender, and a 30-something youth pastor went home in the money.
Ray Chavez of Morro Bay says: “I’m just an old man who likes to fish.”
He’ll turn 84 on Monday. He was introduced to fishing at Virg’s by his late friend Jerry Clifford.
“I had retired after 30 years working at the veterans hospital in Long Beach,” Chavez said. “My friend brought me up to Virg’s to fish. I loved it and two weeks later I moved to Morro Bay from Downey.”
That was nearly 20 years ago. He says he used to fish three times a week out of Virg’s but now he’s out on the ocean every other week during the season.
You might say that Chavez was excited about the tournament competition. He admits to getting up at 2 a.m. to assure getting a spot on the bow of the boat, his preferred fishing station.
“It’s been my experience that you get bigger fish when you fish with iron,” he said.
Early in the competition he cast an 8-ounce purple Papa Jig.
“The fish were gorged with squid. You practically had to hit them on the head until they got mad enough to bite,” Chavez said. “The lingcod I won the tournament with swam into the rocks. I coaxed him out by giving a little slack. He swam out and I didn’t let him go back in.
“I said, ‘Lord help me bring it up.’ ”
The 9.30 (digital weight) lingcod he retrieved was the heaviest fish caught by the 19 big-fish qualifiers on board the Fiesta skippered by John Rowley. Seven anglers who had qualified as a weekly winner during the six-month long event either chose not to compete or could not be contacted.
“Fishing was tough as a result of a big swell that reached 24 feet and closed the harbor entrance for two days,” Rowley said. “Fishing conditions had improved but the abundance of squid in the water made the fish reticent to bite.”
Chavez earned $3,705 first-place money. He has already financially assisted a friend and has purchased an Avet fishing reel from Virg’s.
Three women earned berths in the championship event. Cassondra Scaduto of Visalia was one of them. When she headed for Virg’s in early August, she hadn’t done any saltwater fishing for 10 or 11 years. But, she did have saltwater experience. When she lived in Southern California, which she did until she was 9 years of age, her dad took her fishing at Catalina.
On an August trip to Virg’s she was accompanied by boyfriend Jeff Housman. They were joined by Jeff’s brother, Justin Ford, from Grover Beach. “They both gave me a hard time saying how badly they were going to defeat me,” the 22-year-old Scaduto said.
Scaduto crushed her male adversaries. She caught more fish than the brothers combined. And there was a bonus. The 14-pound lingcod that anchored her catch not only took jackpot honors, it was also the heaviest fish caught during the second week in August. She was qualified for the fish-off.
On tournament day, she headed for the bow of the Fiesta just like her dad had taught. There she fished beside Chavez.
“I helped with her ganion and encouraged her to be ready when John (Rowley) gave the announcement to begin fishing,” Chavez said. “She is a good listener, a super young person, and a tremendous learner.”
Scaduto fished with a two-hook ganion baited with squid and a live sardine. She caught six fish.
“Within the first five minutes of the tournament, I caught a lingcod that I had to release because it was too short,” Scaduto said. “On my second drop I caught the red rockcod (5.45 pounds) that gave me second place.”
She has plans for the $2,405 prize money. “Christmas is coming and the money will come in handy for my family, four nephews, my boyfriend and his six nephews.”
She was not surprised by her tournament success.
“I knew it was in my blood,” Scaduto said.
Bakersfield resident David Huey, 33, has fished twice out of Virg’s and been a money winner both times.
“I came over to the coast with my father-in-law (Rick Legan) early in July,” said the youth pastor at Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield.
The 16-pound lingcod he caught that day, captured jackpot honors for the week ending July 10. That qualified him for the year-end tournament.
Huey said he hooked five or six fish last Saturday keeping four.
“The very first fish I caught in the tournament proved to be a winner. It bit on my squid bait,” he said.
His 25-inch lingcod weighed 5.30 pounds and paid $1,276 for third place.
Huey said: “I’ve been pretty lucky fishing out of Virg’s. My wife and I have plans to go back to Memphis for Thanksgiving. That’s where I grew up. The tournament money comes at an opportune time.”
American Bass results
Results of last Saturday’s American Bass Pacific Region tournament will be printed next week. Tri Valley Club
An Atascadero tandem, who honed their bass fishing skills with different partners in the Tri Valley Club series last season, notched their first tournament victory last Saturday at Cachuma Lake. They accomplished the feat in only their second American Bass Pacific Coast Region event.
Fishing the ABA is a major step up in competition for Brad Shepherd whose best Tri Valley placing was third and for Clark Endres who finished no higher than ninth.
“My partner caught the most fish,” said Shepherd, 27, who does air conditioning work for San Luis Mechanical where he is a journeyman in the sheet metal union.
Endres, 28, expounded on his catch.
“We were the first bout out in the morning and on my fifth cast I thought I had a big one," he said. "It turned out to be an 8-pound carp that I had snagged on a crankbait.”
His mixed bag continued even after switching to a Texas-rigged presentation of creature baits, Sweet Beavers to be specific. These catches followed: A largemouth, a smallmouth, a 15-inch trout and a 3-pound catfish.
“We called my catch a ‘fishing slam.’”
Shepherd said he caught the team’s three biggest fish including the tournament’s big fish, a 3.95-pound largemouth that accounted for $345 of their total winnings of $2,440.
“We practiced on Halloween and what we learned then we employed in the tournament. We caught 13 fish and figured it was a good day.”
It was the initial championship for each angler. “Now I have my foot in the door it’s my goal to regularly finish in the money instead of donating my money to more experienced fishermen,” Shepherd said. “Eventually, I hope to be fishing the major bass circuits. This area needs another local representative in addition to Jared Lintner. It might as well be me.”
Endres is the warehouse manager for the past three years at Tackle Warehouse. He’s surrounded by tournament fishermen like Rich Zeilenga, Jeff Hodges and Corey Schmidt. American Bass Pacific Coast, No. Fish, Weight, Winnings---1.Brad Shepherd, Clark Endres, Atascadero, 5, 12.48 pounds, $2,440; 2. Jeff Rose, Oceano, Jeff Hodges, Arroyo Grande, 5, 9.71 pounds, $1,426; 3. Jared Lintner, Arroyo Grande, Nick Salvucci, San Miguel, 5, 9.65 pounds, $801; 4. Mark Hinson, San Luis Obispo, Stan Sherwin, Atascadero, 5, 9.50 pounds, $488; 5. Doug Chessmore, Santa Barbara, Andy Joughin, Santa Ynez, 4, 8.92 pounds, $308; 6. Bobby Doss, Santa Maria, Todd Reccord, Paso Robles, 5, 8.72 pounds, $250; 7. *Joe Gardiner, Bakersfield, *Scott Helleson, Whittier, 5, 8.65 pounds, $305; 8. Brian Butler, David Nelson,5, 8.46 pounds, $100; 9. Tony Vullaggio, Santa Barbara, Jeff Perry, Goleta, 5, 8.19 pounds; 10. Louis Fernandes, Santa Maria, Patrick Touey, Nipomo, 5, 8.14 pounds.1st Big Fish, 3.95 pounds, Shepherd & Endres, $345; 2nd Big Fish, 3.90 pounds, Rose & Hodges, $207; 3rd Big Fish, 3.69 pounds, Hinson & Sherwin,$138. (Big Fish money is included is listings in standings.) *Indicates Cal Poly students.
Patriot Lingcod Contest
Bad weather kept boats on moorings Monday through Wednesday. Two long-range trips and a half-day trip are scheduled for today. Call 595-7200 for reservations and trip schedules for the final five days of the rockcod season.
Port San Luis Boatyard
For the second year in a row, fishermen who utilize the sports launch are having a barbecue Saturday celebrating the 2010 saltwater season. Hours are from 10 to 4.
The final overnight trip of the season departs at 3 p.m. Saturday and returns by 4 p.m. Sunday. Cost is $205. Call 772-1222 for reservations and trip schedules.
Central Coast Sportfishing
For reservations and trip schedules, call 772-3474 or 704-2084.
Santa Margarita Lake
San Luis Obispo’s Dave Jones caught a 5-pound, 7-ounce catfish on mackerel Nov. 3. Roger Lackey of Atascadero landed a 13-pound catfish on a nightcrawler in Murphy’s Bay on Wednesday.
An angler who did not identify himself caught a 9-pound bass while trolling a spinnerbait near the dam. On Saturday, he also caught four other bass in the 3- to 4-pound range.
The fishing season will end Sunday. Twelve anglers showed up last week and four trout were caught.