After holding the International Game Fish Association all-tackle world record for opah for nearly 16 years, Atascadero resident Tom Foran is dealing with having his mark eclipsed.
“The Legend” is what some members of the saltwater set have been calling him for a long time.
Foran caught this “goofy shaped” fish Oct. 8, 1998, while fishing for albacore with three friends 10 to 12 miles southwest of Port San Luis.
Foran’s record was broken Aug. 1, 2014 by Californian Joe Ludlow, who was fishing at San Quintin, Baja California, aboard the Excel, a long-range boat based in San Diego. He needed only 40 minutes to bring in the 180-pound, 12-ounce opah.
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However, Foran still holds the California state record because Ludlow’s catch was in international waters.
Foran recalled the blustery day aboard his 22-foot boat with three friends, Greg Malik of Atascadero along with Paul Sabesky and Alan Maulden, both of Tehachapi.
“We were trolling tuna feathers,” Foran said. “At one time, all four of us were hooked up, two on albacore, Alan with a 60- to 80-pound blue shark and me with what I suspected might be a big-eye tuna. But the rate it was peeling off my 40-pound test line concerned me.
“After an hour of not gaining line on my fish, we put the engine in reverse. It still required two hours to bring it to gaff. A few days earlier, I’d lost my big gaff overboard. Using my hand gaff and a boat line to tail wrap the fish, we got it on board. We bled it to assure better eating before cramming it into my boat’s fish hold.”
From phone descriptions of the orange and yellow fish, a California Department of Fish and Game official identified it as a possible record opah. He encouraged weighing it on a certified scale.
When first weighed on Port San Luis’ balance scale, it broke the scale. It had a capacity of only 100 pounds.
“Next, we put the fish in the back of my truck and transported it to the Old Port Inn at the end of the pier,” Foran said. “The fish weighed 163 pounds even on the certified scale.
“It took some months for the IGFA to certify the catch as an all-tackle world record. Affidavits were sent asserting that I was the only person who touched the rod and that it never hit the boat’s side rail. Other requisites were met, including forwarding samples of the line and hook.”
Foran recalled the opah was the tasty centerpiece of numerous meals.
“The carcass wouldn’t fit in my garbage can so it cost me $15 to take it to the dump,” Foran said.
Bruce Harwood, marina manager at Virg’s Landing, and Glenn Fukumoto, manager at Morro Bay Landing, are keeping busy providing baits for a wild Morro Bay perch bite happening now along sandy shoreline, the rocks and from piers.
Gulp sand worms, perch grubs, shrimp, mussels and nightcrawlers all are working. Baits are being sold at both businesses.
First time entrant Tom White of King City relied on Shaky Head plastics fished deep to win the 2015 Ambushers’ opener last Saturday at Nacimiento Lake. Eight of the 12 entrants caught 5-fish limits. White’s 8.27-pound bag was 0.49 pounds better than Jerry May’s runner-up weight of 7.78 pounds.
Ambushers Top 10, No. Fish, Weight, Winnings
1. Tom White, King City, 5, 8.27 pounds, $150; 2. Jerry May, Paso Robles, 5, 7.78 pounds, $91; 3. Jim Keeney, Paso Robles, 5, 7.55 pounds, $61; 4. Burt Lund, Atascadero, 5, 7.10 pounds; 5. Michelle Duncan, Bakersfield, 5, 6.85 pounds, 6. Jesse Wilson, Atascadero, 5, 6.78 pounds; Erik Zillig, Paso Robles, 5, 6.38 pounds; 8. Al Rush, Paso Robles, 5, 6.34 pounds; 9. Greg Potruah, Paso Robles, 4, 4.98 pounds; 10 Craig Zillig, Creston, 3. 3.46 pounds.
1st Big Fish, 1.83 pounds, White, $60.
Tri Valley tournament
The fishing was much better at Lopez Lake last Saturday for the Tri Valley season opener. Twenty-one of the 29 teams entered caught fish. However, only four duos had six-fish team limits.
Efforts to contact winners Jacob Lewis and Nick Gregg were unsuccessful.
Further details will be part of next week’s column.
Crab and sanddab trips are scheduled most Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 pm. Cost is $60 for adults and $50 for those 15 and under.
On the latest trip, 17 passengers caught 68 sanddabs and shared crab trap pulls that yielded 107 dungeness and three rock crabs.
For reservations, call 595-7200 or go to www.patriotsportfishing.com.
A two-day trip to San Miguel Island aboard the Black Pearl is planned for Feb. 28 to March 2. Food is included in the $355 fare. Rockcod season will be open there and white seabass will be targeted.
Call 772-1222 for reservations and information on whale watching trips.
Morro Bay Landing
Whale watching trips are scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1 to 3:30 p.m. provided there are sufficient reservations.
Fares are $40 for adults, $35 for military and adults 60 and over, and $25 for chidren 15 and under.
Call 771-5500 for reservations. Twelve whales and other sea life were viewed last Saturday.
Santa Margarita Lake
“Both shore fishermen and boaters are catching catfish,” reported marina manager Ken Hemer. “Bob Holder of Santa Margarita caught and released 15 catfish to five pounds. From a rental boat he used inflated nightcrawlers in several locations. He said the fish were shallow.
“Bass fishing has been slow, although a handful of largemouths were caught with nightcrawlers around Mackey Point and White Oak. Shad have been very thick in some areas. Most fish are suspended from 20 to 30 feet. No panfish were checked in at the marina.”