A Central Coast bass fishing team that had never won a major championship in their combined 55 years of experience finally hit the jackpot last weekend.
And did it on an unfamiliar venue.
Templeton’s Jay Short, 50, and Atascadero’s Damon Meeks, 38, finished atop a field of 140 teams in the Best Bass Tournament of Champions at the California Delta.
Meeks estimated the team caught 60 fish the first day of the tournament and 40 on day two. “On Saturday, our 19.44-pound bag put us in third place, just 0.26 (pounds) behind the second-place team and 1.39 pounds behind the leaders,” Meeks said.
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“Jay had fished the Delta a long time ago while my first time was back in August when we got in some practice time.”
Both days they had success with chatterbaits and crankbaits fished over three underwater islands. They also resorted to “punching” into thick mats of hyacinths.
“We used 80-pound test braided line with a 1 1⁄2-ounce sinker and a heavy rod to get to our better fish,” Meeks said.
As Meeks pulled each of their day-two limit out of the live well, he recalled repeatedly commenting that each one was bigger than they had thought.
Short and Meeks wound up with a 20.66-pound limit. It gave them a two-day total of 40.10 pounds, which was a 4.12-pound advantage over the runners-up.
The day-one leaders managed only one fish Sunday and dropped to 18th place while the second-place duo finished 12th. Neither team won any money Sunday.
Short and Meeks took home $20,000.
Meeks missed his 10th wedding anniversary (Oct. 9) but wife Jennifer transformed from disappointed to proud and will celebrate with her husband on a trip this weekend.
Meeks noted that he did leave presents at home for his wife, which their daughter presented to her mom in dad’s absence.
Short and Meeks placed 12th in the Best Bass Coastal Division regular season. Many of the other teams from the division passed up the TOC tournament.
Only 11 teams cashed checks.
Jay Short is at Clear Lake where he will team with Gene Gray in the American Bass TOC this weekend.
Lintner places 27th
Arroyo Grande’s Jared Lintner placed 27th in a three-day FLW Western Division bass tournament at Clear Lake.
He had 20-pound, 5-ounce and 11-pound, 14-ounce five-fish limits to earn $2,028.
The pro winner, Aaron Britt of Yuba City, had three limits for 70 pounds to earn $32.448. Central Coast anglers placing in the co-angler division were: Marc Weiting, San Luis Obispo, 56th with two-day total of four fish, 10-07 pounds; Roger Haas, Morro Bay, 65th with two-day total of 9-04 pounds; and Whitney Uyeda, Buellton, 91st for three fish, 4-06 pounds for two days.
Cal Poly team places 30th
John Zeolla and Kyle Greenlaw placed 30th in a field of 40 teams last weekend at Clear Lake in the third and final Western Division FLW College series. They caught one bass, weighing 1 pound, 12 ounces.
Cal Poly’s other entry, Clayton Lauchland and Jonathan Fagot were one of 10 teams that failed to catch a fish.
A possible California state record for an olive rockfish was set Sunday aboard the Rita G. The 7.28-pound olive rockfish was caught by Visalia’s Greg Vech. The weight was verified via a certified scale at a local market.
There was a tie last week for the heaviest lingcod caught. Brian Ivie from Paso Robles and Larry Austin from Oceano both landed 15-pound lings. Both qualified for the Dec. 6 John Rowley Lingcod event.
Other jackpot winners all caught lingcod. Winners with weights are: Kevin Burns, Lompoc 11 pounds, Kevin Lamley, Madera, 10-5, Levi Burns, Visalia and Wesley Nicks, Nevada City, both 9-0, Sean Kane, Tehachapi, 8-2, Jason Baugh, Bakersfield, 6-6. and Justin Hopper, Visalia, 5-0.
Only three openings remain for the Nov. 29-30 overnight fishing trip aboard the Princess. More space is open on the Dec. 13-14 and the Dec. 27-28 trips. Cost is $235.
For reservations and trip schedules, go to www.virgs.com or call 772-1222.
Visalia’s Freddie Cardenas, fishing aboard the Sea Angler on Oct. 9, landed the season’s heaviest lingcod, a 27-pound, 12-ounce fish.
Other jackpot winners were: Tim Mahan, Arroyo Grande, 17-2 ling, Mark Sorum, Santa Maria, 15-11, Jimmy Lew, Los Angeles, 15-0 ling, Jerry Czarnecki, Santa Maria, 12-11 ling, Jerrett Buchanan, Anderson, and Kyle Hensley, Bakersfield, both 12-0 lings, Manny Lopez, Santa Maria, 10-6 ling, Mike Ravalin, Arroyo Grande, 8-9 ling, Paul Webber, Visalia, 6-0 ling, and Shelby Wren, Bakersfield, 2-0 red rockcod.
Last week 245 passengers caught 196 lingcod, 479 red rockcod, 1,099 assorted eockfish, 269 bolina and seven cabezon.
For reservations and trip schedules, go to www.patriotsportfishing.com or call 595-7200.
Port San Luis Boatyard
Ross Rickard of Grover Beach became the third two-time Whopper of the Week winner this season. His 19-pound halibut caught Oct. 6 took honors for the week ending Oct. 12.
Previously he earned the award for the week ending May 31. Then he weighed a 22-pound, 8-ounce salmon.
Anthony Nagy of Grover Beach won with a 64-pound, 8-ounce white seabass July 14 and a 27-pound halibut Aug. 1. Nipomo’s Patrick Star took honors on back-to-back weeks with a 35-pound, 8-ounce halibut on July 22 and a 33-pound, 5-ounce seabass Aug. 1.
Seventy-seven boats were launched last week and full rockcod limits were registered six days. The exception was Oct. 8 when three-quarter rockcod limits were logged.
Morro Bay Landing
Jerry White from Lakeview Terrace took jackpot honors with a 9-pound lingcod aboard the San Pedro Special on Saturday. It was the lone trip last week.
Twenty-three anglers caught 12 lings, 50 red rockcod and 180 assorted rockfish.
For trip schedules and reservations go to www.morrobaylanding.com or call 771-5500.
Jeremy Harkins got back in the game last week, catching a 17-inch trout Oct. 9 and a 16-incher the next day. He has caught 36 rainbows when fishing solo and an undetermined number when fishing with a friend.
Last week’s fish were enticed by dough presentations. Seven fishermen turned out, bringing the season’s total to 481. The total catch is 110 fish. Whale Rock is open for fishing Wednesdays through Sundays.
Fifteen spotted bass to 2 pounds were caught Saturday near the marina by Doug Rice, a catch-and-release angler. Heritage Ranch reporter Dave Rymal said the catches were made with Senkos and Zara Spooks.
Jigs, spinnerbaits and floating Rapalas are attracting bass bites while gulp minnows are catching panfish, reported marina manager Aaron Boyd.
Few anglers showed up last week, marina manager Ken Hemer said.
“Catfish were on the small side,” he said. “Santa Cruz Bay and the shoreline across from the marina were the hot locations. Cut mackerel and night crawlers fished in 10 feet of water was the most productive strategy. Smallmouth accounted for most of the bass bite. Shad were up tight to shore in Johnson and Cachuma Bays where they were netted for bait. Most other species were no shows.”