Why do bass tournaments at Nacimiento Lake remind sports fans of the 2014 Kentucky Derby?
Remember, the Derby winner was I’ll Have Another.
And virtually all bass tournaments, especially at Nacimiento, have small weights and closely bunched teams time and time again.
On Saturday, Atascadero’s Gene Gray and partner Jay Short from Templeton unexpectedly won with a weight they felt certain was not enough — 7.88 pounds.
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In fact, it was just enough — a margin of five-hundredths of a pound better than runners-up Louis Fernandes of Santa Maria and Patrick Touey from Nipomo.
At the pay window, the difference was significant though — $2,935 to $985.
Neither team had the big fish. That honor, worth $315, went to Stanley Beebe and Andrew Levy with a 2.70-pound bass.
“You must cull through a lot of fish to win at Nacimiento,” Gray said. “We caught around 30 fish using jigs early, then switching to drop-shotting worms on dartheads. We were next-to-last to weigh our limit. It was hard to believe that we’d won. But, in this sport you must keep on culling and end with a bag heavier than everyone else.”
Added Short: “You never get tired of winning.”
It does have a down side in his case though.
When Best Bass opens its 2015 Coastal Region tournament season Saturday at Nacimiento, Short won’t be part of it.
In October, Short and partner Damon Meeks split the $20,000 first-place award for besting 139 other teams in the Best Bass Tournament of Champions on the California Delta.
That wasn’t the performance that disqualified him for further participation in Best Bass tournaments. What did it was the second place he logged with Gray at Clear Lake in the American Bass TOC. Short was regarded as a big time fisherman in the ABA. The Best Bass series attracts lesser-skilled tournament fishermen.
The Best Bass Coastal Region opens at Nacimiento Lake on Saturday and returns June 6. SLO County Bass Ambushers opens there Jan. 24 and returns three more times. 101 Bass begins its season at Nacimiento Lake on Jan. 31 for the first of two stops there, and the ABA tourney returns there Feb. 14.
Tri Valley will open Jan. 24 at Lopez Lake but has three dates at the North County venue.
ABA Pacific Coast Top 10 Team, All 5-Fish Limits, Weight, Winnings
1. Gene Gray, Atascadero, Jay Short, Templeton, 7.88 pounds, $2,935; 2. Louis Fernandes, Santa Maria, Patrick Touey, Nipomo, 7.83 pounds, $985; 3. Stanley Beebe, San Luis Obispo, Andrew Levy, Grover Beach, 7.79 pounds, $880; 4. Clark Small, Solvang, Randy McAbee, Sr., Bakersfield, 7.63 pounds, $526; 5. John White, San Luis Obispo, Freddie Ledesma, Soledad, 7.63 pounds; 6. Jared Lintner, Arroyo Grande, Nick Salvucci, Atascadero, 7.32 pounds; 7. Mike Maddux, Arroyo Grande, Lee Maddux, Paso Robles, 7.21 pounds; 8. Darrin Bishop, Paso Robles, Dean Miller, Tulare, 7.13 pounds; 9. Patrick Motley, Arroyo Grande, Marc Weiting, San luis Obispo, 6.81 pounds; 10. Brad Shepherd, Clark Endres, Atascadero, 6.67 pounds.
1st Big Fish, 2.70 pounds, Beebe & Levy, $315; 2nd Big Fish, 1.85 pounds, Lintner & Salvucci, $189; 3rd Big Fish, 1.80 pounds, Smalll & McAbee, $126.
Tri Valley 2014 Achievers
Top 10 Teams in 2014: 1. Greg & Mike Higgins, Santa Margarita, 372 points; 2. Tip Martin, San Luis Obispo, Bill Lukeman, Santa Maria, 358; 3. Bill & Pat Twomey, Lompoc, 347; 4. Johnny Johnson, Santa Maria, Rob Marquez, Orcutt, 340; 5. Chris & Kathy Purgason, Lompoc, 329; 6. Frank Fernandes, Santa Maria, Janet Ross, Santa Margarita, 327; 7. Robert Gardiner, Dale Litwiler, Lompoc, 326; 8. Joey Reggio, Brian Nawrocki, San Luis Obispo, 316; 9. John Signorelli, Mike Michaud, Lompoc, 208; 10. Danny Knotts, Skeeter Moore, Santa Maria, 207.
The Big Fish of the Year — 7.72 pounds by Jeff Hodges and Mike Maddux, Arroyo Grande, at Lopez Lake, Jan. 18.
Combination sand dab and dungeness crab trips will be offered every Saturday and Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. beginning this Saturday. Cost is $60 for adults, $50 for children 12 and under.
For reservations, go to www.patriotsportfishing.com or call 595-7200.
Whale watching trips are offered Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1:30 pm. Cost is $39 for adults and $29 for children 15 and under.
For reservations, call 772-1222 or go to www.virgs.com.
Morro Bay Landing
A whale watching trip is scheduled for Sunday from 1 to 3:30 pm. Cost is $40 for adults $40, $35 for seniors (60 and up) and military $35, and $25 for children 12 and under $25.
For reservations, call 771-5500.