A multitude of improbable occurrences surrounded Saturday’s staging of the split weigh-in at the Tri Valley bass tournament at Santa Margarita Lake.
It figured to be extremely hot. It wasn’t. Keeping fish alive loomed as a problem. Ninety-nine fish were caught and all were released alive.
The 32-team field was loaded with anglers accustomed to major competitions, including Bassmaster Elite pro Jared Lintner. Then there were the Salvucci brothers, Nick and Tony, who had already won two events and sewn up venue Angler of the Year honors.
Few competitors even knew the new team of Doug Rowland and Sheldon Waters. They hadn’t met until Saturday morning and became acquainted en route from Orcutt to the lake. Sheldon’s dad, Rod, works with Rowland at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Rod wondered out loud whether Rowland would consider partnering with his 17-year-old son in a bass tournament.
Rowland hadn’t fished a tournament in eight years. Having been the 2002 Gold Coast Club Angler of the Year, he wasn’t devoid of experience, however.
The new tandem didn’t attract any attention at the first weigh-in. They spent the first part of the event in the dam area where Sheldon caught three fish drop-shotting. A one-pounder was culled, and their two fish weighed 3.19 pounds.
Following the barbecue interlude, Rowland suggested heading for the river and trying some frogs and swimbaits.
The team’s stock skyrocketed when Rowland hooked an 11.26-pound largemouth on a swimbait.
“My jaw dropped when I saw that fish come unbuttoned while by partner had the net under her,” he said.
Added Sheldon: “We were fortunate because the freed fish swam down into the net. Had she swam in any other direction, we would have lost her. She filled the net, which was only about 12 inches wide and 18 inches deep.”
Rowland insisted that “we caught that fish, not just me.”
Rowland added 4-, 5- and 6-pound fish on swimbaits and frogs to give the team a 26.01-pound evening weight.
Their 29.20-pound six-fish bag bested the Salvucci brothers, who placed second with a 27.84-pound limit.
Atascadero’s Gene Gray had the second-big fish, 10.98 pounds.
Eleven teams had fish that exceeded the 5.51-pound weight that was the heaviest fish of the first six events. The Salvuccis set that standard at Lopez in June.
“I can’t in good conscience not fish the WON Bass tourney this Saturday at Margarita,” Rowland phoned his partner.
“I’ll net your fish all day,” Sheldon replied in accepting the challenge.
Tri Valley Top 10, No. Fish, *Weight
1.Doug Rowland, Orcutt, Sheldon Waters, Lompoc, 6, 29.20 pounds; 2. Nick Salvucci, San Miguel, Tony Salvucci, Atascadero, 6, 27.84 pounds; 3. Felix Camacho, Nipomo, Jeff Smith, Atascadero, 6, 26.65 pounds; 4. Johnny Johnson, Santa Maria, Rob Marquez, Orcutt, 6, 26.29 pounds; 5. Casey Shepherd, Kyle James, Bradley, 6, 25.16 pounds; 6. Scott Garman, Morro Bay, Dan Barrios, San Luis Obispo, 6, 21.39 pounds; 7. Gene Gray, Steve Clarke, Atascadero, 6, 20.54 pounds; 8. Jared & JC Lintner, Arroyo Grande, 6, 19.67 pounds; 9. Ron & Derek Morrison, Lompoc, 6, 19.47 pounds; 10. Steve Vidmar, Santa Maria, Phil Infante, Long Beach, 5, 18.78 pounds.
1st Big Fish, 11.26 pounds, Rowland & Waters; 2nd Big Fish, 10.98 pounds, Gray & Clarke.
*Actual weights prior to bonus additions.
The landing had a fishing anomaly occur not once but twice last week. On July 13, the 25 anglers aboard the Princess caught 50 lingcod, a limit for each passenger aboard. The jackpot was won by Leslie Arnold of Orosi with a 16-pound ling.
The feat was duplicated over the weekend when the Princess was on an overnight trip leaving Saturday afternoon and returning late Sunday. Each of the 26 passengers aboard caught two limits of lingcod — 102 of them.
Peter Becker of Lake Isabella caught a 12-pound lingcod Saturday while James Brewer of Weldon took Sunday’s jackpot with a 17-pounder. While fishing with a group of Morro Bay junior lifeguards on a 5-hour trip July 11, Aidan Moriarty, 15, captured jackpot honors with an 11-pound lingcod.
Other jackpot winners included T.J. Britton, Madera, Brent McDonald, Lancaster, and Herb Carter, Bakersfield, all 10-0 lings; John Salto, Hanford, 9-0 ling; Jan Boyd, Fair Oaks, 8-0 ling; Jamie Garcia, Tulare, 7-0 ling; Leane Miller, Idaho, 6-5 red rockcod; Sean Clark, Bakersfield, 6-0 red rockcod; Francisco Lopez, Bakersfield, and Matt Matsukas, Solvang, both 4-0 reds.
Only two places are open on the next overnight trip departing July 28. Cost is $205. Call 772-2122 for reservations and trip schedules.
Eryn McKinney, 15, of Bakersfield, seized the lead Saturday in the second phase (July-August) of the Patriot Lingcod Contest. She did it by reeling in a 17-pound, 8-ounce lingcod while fishing at Pt. Sal aboard the Patriot.
Morro Bay’s Zach Mueller occupies second place with a 16-pound, 8-ounce lingcod he caught July 8. That same day, Louie McCombs from Taft moved into third place with a 13-pound, 5-ounce lingcod.
Trailing McKinney’s big catch are these anglers and their jackpot fish: Armando Kassaz, Visalia, 12-8 ling; Phllip See, Visalia, Trever Laine, Orcutt, Ethan Romanchek, Kula, HI., all 12-0 lings; John La Pointe, Lompoc, 10-0 ling; John Soldani, Tulane, 8-0 ling; Jacob Davis, Hanford, 6-0 ling; and Steve Repp, Bakersfield, 4-0 copper.
For trip schedules and reservations, call 595-7200.
Port San Luis Boatyard
For the fourth time this season, the Whopper of the Week is a halibut. Arroyo Grande’s Daren Mofi caught the 19-pound, 2-ounce flattie Sunday.
Last week, 121 boats were launched. The harvest included 120 lingcod and 17 halibut. Full rockcod limits were logged every day last week.
Worms continue to be the bait of choice for successful anglers at Whale Rock. That’s how all but one of the nine fish harvested last week were taken. Thirty-four anglers turned out, bringing the season’s total to 330. Sixty-four trout have been taken in the 58 days the reservoir has been open for fishing. Forty-seven tasted worms.
Jace Zavala caught two 17-inch trout and a 16-inch. Jeff Minkler landed 18-, 17- and 15-inch trout. Jeff French bagged an 18-inch fish, and Fred Holder a 15-incher. All eight bit on worms. James Taylor retrieved an 18-inch fish on PowerBait.
Cachuma Pro Teams
Larry and Jason Marquez of Santa Barbara won the July 7 tournament en route to claiming Angler of the Year laurels. Their 15.96-pound limit paid $545, which included the big fish (4.31 pounds). Lompoc’s Steve Morris and Mead Hedricks placed fourth with a 10.23-pound limit. Finishing third were Darin Ferguson of Buellton and Dustin Mojonnier of Los Alamos with a 10.72 limit.
“White bass fishing is fantastic. We haven’t seen boils like this in several years. Get out early because the boils stop around 10 a.m.,” said Heritage Ranch resident Dave Rymal. On Friday, 58 whites were caught by anglers in three boats. Bunky Childs and three buddies caught 53 whites. On Monday, Rymal and friend Steve Negro caught 12 whites averaging better than a pound and six 1 1⁄2-pound spots.
Santa Margarita Lake
“Bass and catfish are all we are seeing,” marina manager Don Lopez said. “Bluegill, crappie and redear are in hiding.”
A 7-pound largemouth bass was caught in Cottonwood Cove with a nightcrawler. On July 14, Kristin and Doug McKinney of Bakersfield used shad-colored plastics to catch a largemouth over three pounds and two smallmouth up to two pounds. Earlier this week, Eugene Phillips of Taft caught 11 bluegill and redear by the dam using plastic worms.
Topwater offerings are working for bass early. Crankbaits, jigs and drop-shotting is effective later. Fish are scattered from two to 20 feet down in the water column. Trout up to 6 pounds were weighed at the marina last week. Leadcore line trolled at a depth of seven to eight colors is working early. Drifting worms by the dam is catching fish later.