Only one of the 15 teams that participated in the Tri-Valley Fish-off on Saturday at Lake San Antonio had this impression.
Sam Sawdey of Paso Robles and his first-year partner, Matt Pigeon from Santa Margarita, thought the bass bite was “wide open.”
“True, it wasn’t as good as it was two weeks ago when we practiced,” Sawdey admitted. The duo figured they caught between 12 and 15 fish on a day when very hot weather prevailed.
San Antonio has been a special venue for Sawdey and Pigeon this season. They won the May Tri-Valley tourney and repeated as Fish-off champions.
They fished clean water early on on the main lake and succeeded in the stained water in the shallow San Antonio River where six other teams were not experiencing good fortune.
“We were catching fish on spinnerbaits while other teams were flippin’,” Pigeon said.
The team’s three biggest fish were boated on their first stop using buzzbaits. Among the trio was a 3.09-pound largemouth, which turned out to be the second biggest fish of the competition. Crankbaits fetched two of their six-fish limit and spinnerbaits worked also for their 15.31-pound victorious weight.
For Pigeon it was a belated birthday gift. He turned 31 on Sept. 1.
Lompoc’s Ron Morrison, 47, and his his 12-year-old son Derek finished second.
“Derek saved our bacon,” his dad gushed. “We only had four fish by 2:30 and I was mulling over going in early. Derek caught two fish on crankbaits including a 2 1/2-pounder late in the day near the launch ramp weigh-in site. Our second place finish was 100 percent a team effort. The last three years my son has fished a full Tri-Valley schedule.”
Ron Morrison used a 5-inch Senko to bag the tournament’s big fish (3.40 pounds).
“I had at least a 4-pounder on and brought it right up to the boat where Derek was ready with the net when the fish became unbuttoned. I had thoughts of swimming after it,” he said. “That was a $600 fish."
The Morrisons were penalized 0.4 pounds for two dead fish. Their runner-up weight was 12.92 pounds.
Tri-Valley has a policy of not reporting winnings.
Only the top two teams caught six-fish Tri-Valley team limits. Three teams caught four fish, two teams had three each, two had two fish and the 10th place pair had one fish — 35 in all with 21 largemouths and 14 smallies.
Five of the 21 teams that qualified for the Fish-Off elected not to compete for a variety of reasons. Included in the group were Salvucci brothers Nick and Tony, who won three of the eight regular-season tournaments and finished with a 57-point lead over the runner-up tandem.
Tri-Valley Fish-off Top 10, Number of Fish, Weight
1. Sam Sawdey, Paso Robles, Matt Pigeon, Santa Margarita, 6, 15.31 pounds; 2. *Ron & Derek Morrison, Lompoc, 6, 12.92 pounds; 3. Greg & Mike Higgins, Santa Maria, 4, 8.04 pounds; 4. Felix Camacho, Nipomo, Ken Camacho, Santa Maria, 4, 7.90 pounds; 5. Steve Vidmar, Santa Maria, Phil Infante, Long Beach, 4, 7.01 pounds; 6. Frank Fernandes, Brandon Reynolds, Santa Maria, 3, 6.76 pounds; 7. Bill & Pat Twomey, Lompoc, 3, 5.53 pounds; 8. Johnny Johnson, Santa Maria, Rob Marquez, Orcutt, 2, 3.47 pounds; 9. Tip Martin San Luis Obispo, Bill Lukeman, Santa Maria, 2, 2.85 pounds; 10. Ted & Dustin McAllister, San Luis Obispo, 1, 1.47 pounds.
1st Big Fish, 3.40 pounds, Morrison & Morrison; 2nd Big Fish, 3.09 pounds, Sawdey & Pigeon.
*Morrisons were penalized 0.40pounds for two dead fish.
“Although the forecast is for 15-knot winds, it’s probable that some boat owners will seek some albacore this weekend,” Harrell Kimball said. Last weekend, anglers aboard two boats fished for tuna 20 miles off Point Buchon. Only two longfins were caught after prolonged efforts.
The first albacore trip of the season is scheduled to depart at 10 p.m. Saturday with fishing Sunday and return by 6 p.m. Sunday. Cost is $250. Call 772-1222 for reservations, more information.
Six lingcod of 10 pounds and more won jackpots for those who cranked them up last week. The big one for the week was a 19-pounder caught by Fresno’s Jeff Hines. Other jackpot winners included: Ken Boeckler, Arizona, 17-0 ling; Pierre Matthews, Fresno, 16-0 ling; Gary Bates, Florida, 15-0 ling; Gary Anderson, Cambria, 14-0 ling; Aaron Pebley, San Diego, 10-0 ling; Jill Wool, Cambria, and Ron Burke, Visalia, both 9-0 lings; Jack Bruce, Cambria, 7-0 ling; and Alex Quiar, Hanford, 7-0 vermillion.
The next limited load overnight rockcod fishing trip is scheduled for Oct. 13. Cost is $230. Call for reservations and more information.
Last week’s catch by 247 passengers included 146 lingcod, 1,280 red rockcod and 1,067 assorted rockfish.
Ashley Pedro from Sandstone, Calif., had last week’s big fish, a 12-pound lingcod.
Other jackpot winners included Ken Willis, Oildale, 10-0 ling; Ted Knapp, Bakersfield, 10-0 cabezon; Kevin Hill, Lompoc, 8-0 ling and Bethany Gilstrap, Pismo Beach, 6-0 ling.
The catch by 125 anglers last week included 41 lingcod, 235 red rockcod, 223 assorted rockfish, 293 bolina and eight cabezon.
For trip schedules and reservations call 595-7200.
Port San Luis Boatyard
Anglers deprived of pursuing albacore because of windy conditions have focused on halibut. Harold Lovett reports 20 flatties up to 33 pounds have been brought in so far this week.
Boatyard employee Anthony Nagy of Pismo Beach went fishing on his day off and claimed Whopper of the Week honors with the catch of a 23-pound halibut Sept. 12.
Eighty-seven boats were dispatched last week. The catch included 119 lingcod, 17 halibut, 16 albacore and one white seabass.
Only six trout have been caught in the last four open periods. The fish caught last week was a 14-inch trout by Pat Morris on Sept. 12. He used worms to catch his fish.
The reservoir has been open 104 days this season, and 540 anglers have turned out, including 12 last week. The catch total is 97 fish.
The reservoir is open for fishing Wednesdays through Sundays.
Santa Margarita Lake
On Sunday, Chuck Wlayka of Nipomo poled his way deep into The Narrows to fish for bass. Using heavy Senkos, he caught 8-pound, 7-ounce, 6-pound, 4-ounce, 5-pound, 2-ounce largemouth, plus a couple of 2-pounders, marina manager Don Lopez reports. The same day Jacob Overdain of Arroyo Grande landed a 1-pound, 4-ounce bluegill on a nightcrawler.
Fishing at Strawberry Flats last week, an unidentified woman caught a 2 1⁄2-pound largemouth and a 11⁄2-pound smallmouth.
Blades, creature baits and crankbaits have been catching largemouths early in the day in shallow water. Smallmouths and largemouths go deeper in the afternoon and occupy main lake points and the edge of the river channel. Then spoons, Texas-rigged plastics and drop-shotting is effective, according to marina manager Ken Hemer. Fly-lined mackerel, packaged dough balls and nightcrawlers are working for catfish in shallow water. Slightly cooler water has improved the crappie bite. Mini jigs are producing in The Narrows and the back of Cachuma Bay. Trout fishing remains slow but plants will begin next month.