Bonded with a new partner, Atascadero’s Damon Meeks picked up where he left off last fall. And that’s a good thing.
You might recall that Meeks and former partner Jay Short won the Best Bass Tournament of Champions on the California Delta and in the process shared $20,000.
When Short teamed with Gene Gray the next week and placed second in the American Bass TOC at Clear Lake, Best Bass officials banned him from entering their events. He was “too good.”
The Best Bass Coastal Region held its 2015 opener at Nacimiento Lake on Saturday and Meeks and his new sidekick, Templeton’s Chase Austin, bested the efforts of 50 other teams.
“We were in the first flight out and we caught 10 fish in an hour-and-a-half in shallow water,” Meeks said. “I lost what would have been our biggest fish. I figured that mistake would cost us. I didn’t want to watch the weigh-in.”
Meeks said he became acquainted with his new partner through his crane business. He’s worked with Smith Electric out of Santa Maria where Austin has worked for 21⁄2 years.
Meeks may have been reluctant to watch the weigh-in, but he was happy about the results. Their 9.20-pound limit won by 45-hundredths of a pound.
This is Austin’s second year fishing the Best Bass series. Last year, he fished with an experienced partner, his uncle Brad Austin of San Miguel. Their best finish was an 11th-place effort.
With Chase Austin contributing two of the bass the Meeks-Austin duo weighed, the team pocketed $1,925.
“My girlfriend Ashley made my good luck sandwich,” Austin said.
Ahead are five Best Bass challenges. Forty-four of the 51 teams entered had limits ranging from 5.17 to 9.20 pounds.
Best Bass Top 10, All 5-fish Limits, Weight, Winnings
1. Damon Meeks, Atascadero, Chase Austin, Templeton, 9.20 pounds, $1,925; 2. Scott Mullins, Salinas, Tim Mullins, Templeton, 8.55 pounds, $1,490; 3. August Kinney, Mark Scribner, Pismo Beach, 7.49 pounds, $725; 4. Jensen Wrona, Fernando Salazar, Santa Barbara, 7.45 pounds, $545; 5. Michael Meier, Mark Del Papa, 7.40 pounds, $375; 6, Greg Enns, Mark McCrossen, Bakersfield, 7.33 pounds, $200; 7. George Rosales, Newt Price, 7.20 pounds, $275; 8. Geno & Jason Lazzerini, Moss Landing, 7.13 pounds, $165; 9. Mike Snow, Bakersfield, Harlin Gibson, Maricopa, 7.13 pounds, $150; 10. Jacob Lewis, Atascadero, Mark Moreno, 7 pounds.
1st Big Fish, 2.43 pounds, Mark Pollorena, Glenn Wolfgang, Buellton, $400; 2nd Big Fish, 2.41 pounds, Mullins & Mullins; 3rd Big Fish, 2.36 pounds, Meeks & Austin.
Santa Margarita Lake
Ken Hemer, the Rocky Mountain Recreation rep who will manage the marina, is a bass fisherman himself. He spent five years in a similar capacity at Cachuma Lake.
He’s already caught an 8-pound bass at Margarita, which is bigger than any he caught at Cachuma.
Hemer reported: “Ike and Erestine Davis of Inglewood had a nice stringer of bluegill fishing from shore as well as a 17-pound catfish. Their baits were red worms and nightcrawlers. Some bass are being caught on live worms. Fishing with artificial baits has been tough probably due to rapidly cooling water temperatures.
“The concession opened for business Jan. 17.”
Thomas Lee worked at the marina for five years for the previous managers, Don and Sandra Lopez.
On Wednesday, Lee was temporarily back at his old post. Lee said the rental fleet on hand includes four 16-foot aluminum boats with new four-stroke engines, four pontoon boats, two paddle boats and five kayaks.
“A Santa Margarita angler fishing at Mackey Point using nightcrawlers caught two channel catfish and 31⁄2- and 4-pound bass,” Lee said.
“We need another rain to bring up the lake two more feet before we can launch boats out of Heritage Ranch,” Heritage reporter Dave Rymal said.
“Last weekend, Dean Shup and a friend caught and released 20 spotted bass. One of their fish weighed about 3 pounds.”
Crab and sanddab trips will be offered Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., provided there are sufficient reservations. Cost is $60 for adults, $50 for military and children 12 and under.
For reservations and more information, call 595-7200 or go to www.patriotsportfishing.com.
Morro Bay Landing
Whale watching trips are being offered Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or 1 to 3:30 p.m. Cost is $40 for adults, $35 for seniors age 60 and above and military personnel, and $25 for children 12 and under.
For reservations, call 771-5500 or go to www.morrobaylanding.com.
Whale watching trips are offered Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1:30 pm. Cost is $39 adults and $29 for children 15 and under. Sanddab trips should start in two weeks.
For reservations and more information, call 772-1222 or go to www.virgs. com.
Annual enchilada sale
Orders are being taken for the albacore enchilada fundraiser linked annually to the Super Bowl. Morro Bay’s Central Coast Women for Fisheries is the nonprofit sponsoring organization.
The cost for a tray of four enchiladas is $10. Options are corn tortillas with green sauce or flour tortillas with red sauce.
The albacore were caught during the 2014 season.
To order, call Jackie at 772-8281 or Sharon at 674-4854.
Enchilada orders may be picked up between 1 and 5 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Morro Bay Community Center.