Catching feisty smallmouth bass last weekend was the route Paso Robles’ Jim Keeney traveled in winning his first bass tournament in two years, winning the SLO County Bass Ambushers two-day competition at Lake San Antonio.
“All the fish I caught both days were smallies,” said the 60-year-old Keeney, whose Saturday catch included the day’s big fish, a 3.24-pound smallmouth.
“I bagged that one on a jig,” he said. “Smallmouths are why I like to fish San Antonio. When you get a 3-pounder on light line you instantly know it’s a smallmouth. They always fight like crazy.”
Keeney didn’t have the heaviest bag either day, but his 22.82-pound cumulative weight topped the field. He pocketed $115 for his big fish and $360 total. Most of the 14 fish he caught were via drop-shotting.
Templeton’s Del Bishop grabbed the first-day lead with a 12.19-pound limit. But he only managed one fish Sunday settling for sixth place.
Atascadero’s Marc Hazuka had only four fish Sunday, but his 10.91-pound bag was the heaviest. Included was a 3.53-pound largemouth for big fish honors worth $110. His total winnings for his second place weight of 22.62 pounds was $257.
Bass Ambushers’ 2-Day Top 10, No. Fish, Weight, Winnings
1. Jim Keeney, Paso Robles, 10. 22.82 pounds, $245; 2. Marc Hazuka, Atascadero, 9, 22.62 pounds, $147; 3. Jesse Wilson, Atascadero, 10, 19.83 pounds, $18; 4. Jacob Lewis, Atascadero, 10, 19.16 pounds, $80; 5. Terry Wolf, Santa Margarita, 9, 15.40 pounds; 6. Del Bishop, Templeton, 6, 14.07 pounds; 7. Mike Enos, Paso Robles, 7, 13.10 pounds; 8. Al Rush, Paso Robles, 6, 12.72 pounds; 9. Jerry May, Paso Robles, 7, 12.42 pounds; 10. Burt Lund, Atascadero, 6, 10.56 pounds.
Day 1 Big Fish, 3.24 pounds, Keeney, $115; Day 2 Big Fish, 3.53 pounds, Hazuka, $110.
Best Bass Coastal Tournament
Attempts to contact the winners of the Best Bass Coastal Region tournament were unsuccessful.
Finishing atop the 24-team field was the father-and-son team of dad Martin Zillig from Galt and son Erik Zillig from Paso Robles. Their 11.11-pound limit paid $1,245. After three 2013 competitions, the Zilligs are in third place in the standings with 443 points, seven points off the lead.
Best Bass, Coastal Region Top 10, Number of Fish, Weight, Winnings
1. Erik Zillig, Paso Robles, Martin Zillig, Galt, 5, 11.11 pounds, $1,240; 2. Mitch & Mike Wasley, Paso Robles, 5, 10.86 pounds, $797.50; 3. Lee & Jerrad Johnson, Wasco, 10.82 pounds, $755; 4. Mike Gutierrez, Juan Acosta, 5, 10.71 pounds, $205; 5. Dustin Selck, Atascadero, Phil Van Zee, Morro Bay, 5, 10.63 pounds, $160; 6. Clay Gates, Jessie Sims, Paso Robles, 5, 10.32 pounds; 7. Jason Ballew, Ken Allerton, Hollister, 5, 10.24 pounds; 8. Jason Lazzerini, Moss Landing, Geno Lazzerini, Prunedale, 5, 10.22 pounds; 9. Nick Gregg, Atascadero, Kyle Gregg, San Luis Obispo, 5, 9.93 pounds; 10. Jay Rich, Terry Rawles, Bakersfield, 4, 9.83 pounds, $80.
1st Big Fish, 4.88 pounds, Johnson & Johnson; 2nd Big Fish, 4.36 pounds, Zillig & Zillig.
WON Bass Central Coast
Results were not posted in time for this week’s deadline. Tournament Director Bill Cook said that for the second straight event, only eight teams showed up, the fewest in his 15 years of directing major bass tournaments.
Cook said the Salinas father-and-son duo of Steven and Bryan Grier finished first, Jason Letterman and Scott Mullins of Salinas were second, and Dan Frazier of Arroyo Grande and his brother, David of Westminster, placed third.
Last week, Arroyo Grande’s Jared Lintner failed to finish in the top 50 and out of the money for the second time in 2013 on Bassmaster Elite tour. The tour’s third and next event is April in Arkansas’ Bull Shoals Lake.
Lintner’s experience at Falcon Lake on the Texas-Mexico border was unlike 2008. Then, he earned $10,000, placing 47th with three limits totaling 71 pounds, 8 ounces. This time, he only caught five fish in two days for an 8-pound, 11-ounce weight and 55th place. Three entrants weighed more 100 pounds of fish over four days. Texan Keith Combs won with 111 pounds, 5 ounces.
Cachuma Trout Derby
The reduced-fee early deadline to enter the 18th-annual Cachuma Lake Trout Derby is April 6. The adult reduced fee is $35. After that, the fee is $45. Entry fee for children ages 4-10 is $10.
To receive information and a reservation form in the mail, leave your name and address on the derby hotline at 693-8381 or online at www.troutderby.org.
This year’s derby is a week later — April 20-21 — with the hope of better weather. Cash prizes amounting to $5,000, plus sizeable merchandise prizes will be awarded. The derby is the major fundraiser for the Neal Taylor Nature Center at Cachuma Lake. The center was founded in 1988 by the late Neal Taylor.
Fishing for halibut Saturday and Sunday was unsuccessful. However, 29 weekend passengers did catch buckets of sanddabs. An 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. sanddab and halibut trip is scheduled for Saturday. Cost is $59.
Salmon season opens April 6. Call 772-1222 for reservations. Cost is $89 for the 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. trips. The store is stocked with salmon gear. California licenses are available for purchase. Rockcod season opens May 1. A two-day trip is scheduled for May 18-19. Loads are limited to 24 passengers. Fishing is in waters off San Simeon and the Big Sur coastlines. Cost is $205.
The final sanddab and crab trips are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Cost is $60 for the 6 a.m. to noon trips. Call 595-7200 for reservations and schedules. A whale watching and nature cruise is set for Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon for $35.
Rockcod season opens May 1. Trip reservations are being taken.
On the Saturday sanddab and crab trip, 18 passengers caught 21 sanddabs and 76 Dungeness crab.
Marina Manager Ken Hemer says: “The water temperature came up a few degrees prompting almost all species to bite. Trolling for trout in Cachuma Bay from the surface to a depth of two colors of leadcore line was very productive including some limits. … A wide variety of baits and techniques worked for bass.”
Calaveras Trout farm will make a 4,000-pound plant of “tail walkers” Wednesday. The final Calaveras trout plant of the year will be April 18, two days before the 18th-annual Trout Derby.