Gene Gray and Jay Short, a formidable North County bass fishing team, came within two pounds of a championship last week at Clear Lake in the two-day American Bass Northern Tournament of Champions.
With four teams among the top 10 finishers and two more in the top 20 in a field of 115 teams, the Pacific Coast Region made an impressive showing.
Gray of Atascadero and Short, a Templeton resident, made an impressive bid for the title on Saturday’s second day. They climbed from 16th place to a runner-up finish, missing out on winning the grand prize, a Ranger boat and Mercury motor package.
The duo pocketed a check for $3,380.
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It has been a bountiful two weeks for Short, who recently celebrated his 50th birthday. The previous week on the California Delta, Short was pared with Atascadero’s Damon Meeks in the Best Bass TOC, an event that drew 140 boats. In that one, they sprinted from a 1.39-pound deficit in third place to a win by 4.12 pounds with a day-two 20.66-pound limit.
Their 40.10-pound total paid $20,000, which the teammates split.
Back to the action at Clear Lake.
“During our pre-fishing, we found a deep wide ledge off a dock that was productive,” Short said. “On Friday we had a limit by 9:30 flippin and with swimbaits. We finished the day with a 19.43 (pound) bag which put us in 16th place.”
Added Gray: “We faced bluebird weather Saturday that made it tougher fishing. We switched to spinning rods and plastic worms. Our first bite didn’t come until 10:30, when we put two fish in the live well. We were using 6-pound test line and 4-inch worms on dartheads. Our third fish was caught around 1 o’clock and three more in the next 90 minutes.”
The 21.12-pound bag Short and Gray brought to the scales enabled them to climb to second place.
Darrin Bishop of Paso Robles and fishing partner Dean Miller placed third with two limits (40.18 pounds) that paid $2,400.
Jared Lintner (Arroyo Grande) and Nick Salvucci (Atascadero) placed fourth with 38.93 pounds for a $1,000 check.
San Luis Obispo’s Dan Barrios and Justin Goodman finished 10th with a 35.30-pound bag worth $750.
Atascadero’s Brad Shepherd and Clark Endres placed 13th with two limits (32.83 pounds) that paid $610.
Fred Ledesma, partner of SLO’s John White, caught the third largest fish Friday. It paid $700.
ABA TOC Final Standings
Number of Fish, Weight, Winnings
1.Bryant Smith, Joseph Durling, 10, 42.24 pounds, Ranger/Mercury package & $1,210; 2. Gene Gray, Atascadero, Jay Short, Templeton,10, 40.55 pounds, $3,380; 3. Darrin Bishop, Paso Robles, Dean Miller, Tulare, 10, 40.18 pounds, $2,400; 4. Jared Lintner, Arroyo Grande, Nick Salvucci, Atascadero, 10, 38.93 pounds, $1,000; 10. Dan Barrios, Justin Goodman, San Luis Obispo, 9, 35.30 pounds, $750; 13. Brad Shepherd, Clark Endres, Atascadero, 10, 32.83 pounds, $610; 18. *Carlos & Jacob, Vasquez, Soledad, 10, 30.58 pounds, $765; 23. *Jason Letterman, Scott Mullins, Salinas, 8, 27.88 pounds; 32. John White, San Luis Obispo, Fred Ledesma, Soledad, 7. 24.08 pounds, $700; 36. Mike Maddux, Matt Quaresma, Arroyo Grande, 6, 23.20 pounds, $855; 42. Robert Merino, San Luis Obispo, Robert Adams, Signal Hill, 8, 21.83 pounds, $210
*Non-area residents who qualified for TOC through local Pacific Coast Region tourneys.
The biggest lingcod caught last week was a 15-pound, 5-ounce fish that secured jackpot honors for John Perkins of Cerritos aboard the Sea Angler on Sunday.
All other jackpot winners had lingcod. Winners and weights of their lings were: Mark Manriquez, Sanger, 13-0, Brandon Sanford, California, 11-0, Adolf Castro, Bakersfield, 9-0, Ericka Caton, Hanford, and Gabe Boils, Shaver Lake, both 8-0, Debi Wood, Grover Beach, 7-0, and Paul Adams, Atascadero, 6-0.
Last week, 205 passengers caught 48 lingcod, 184 red rockcod, 133 bolina, 27 cabezon and 1,377 assorted rockfish.
For trip schedules and reservations, go to www.patriotsportfishing.com or call 595-7200.
Port San Luis Boatyard
For the second week in a row and the third time in 2014, Grover Beach’s Ross Rickard earned Whopper of the Week honors with the catch of a 34-pound halibut Oct. 18.
Fifty-nine boats were launched Oct. 13-19. The catch included 38 lingcod, and four halibut.
Full rockcod limits were logged Oct. 15-16, half limits Oct. 13-14 and Oct. 17, three-quarter limits Oct. 18 and half to three-quarter limits Oct. 19.
How’s this for a hot bite?
The 42 anglers on board the Princess and the 33 passengers aboard the Fiesta combined to catch 86 lingcod Sunday — 71 on the Princess and 15 on the Fiesta.
Morro Bay angler Freddy Gleason qualified for the Dec. 6 John Rowley Lingcod Contest. He became the 24th qualifier by catching the biggest ling last week, 18 pounds, 5 ounces.
All jackpot winners last week caught lings. Winners and weights were: Magon Foy, Morro Bay, 14-5, Ed Espinoza, Bakersfield, 11-0, Levi Wilson, Paso Robles, 10-0, Randy Ponder, Morro Bay, 9-0, Leonard Anci, Bakersfield, and Robert Hernandez, Reedley, both 8-0.
The catch by 326 anglers last week included 196 lingcod, 453 red rockcod, 2,528 assorted rockfish and two cabezon.
For reservations and trip schedules, go to www.virgs.com or call 772-1222.
Morro Bay Landing
Jackpot winners on weekend trips last week were Jason Perez, Bakersfield, and Daniel Montellano, Oceano, with 15-pound and 13-pound, 1-ounce lingcod, respectively.
Forty-one fishermen caught 30 lings, 99 red rockcod, 304 assorted rockfish and 14 cabezon.
For trip schedules and reservations, go to www.morrobaylanding.com or call 771-5500.
Fishermen were blanked for the 10th time last week. Whale Rock has been open for 26 weeks (129 days). Thus far, 490 anglers (nine last week) have caught 110 trout. Whale Rock is open for fishing Wednesdays through Sundays.
Catfish continue to dominate the lake’s fishing.
“The backs of Cachuma and Johnson Bays continue to be the hot spots,” marina manager Ken Hemer said. “Fly lining cut mackerel is the way to go. Smallmouth still headline bass fishing. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits are effective early and late. Jigs work best at midday.”