She’s no newcomer to saltwater fishing but her experience aboard the Patriot on the Fourth of July put a smile on her face that is not likely to go away for quite a while.
Meet Sheila Ward. She and her husband, Robert, usually would have dabbled in one of their recreational passions much earlier in the year. Not so in 2015. They had not even purchased their angling licenses.
Electing to reacquaint themselves with saltwater fishing, the Los Osos couple boarded the Patriot for some fun at Point Sal.
The Wards were among the 39 anglers on this day. Neither Sheila nor her husband had ever caught any lingcod.
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“I’d caught mackerel, some reds and cabezon,” Sheila Ward said during a Tuesday evening phone interview.
The shining moment occurred when Ward was probing the ocean floor at a depth of 120 feet.
“As soon as my line hit bottom,” she said, “I felt a fish on. I tried to free my line and figured I was hung up on a rock. Once my line was freed, I knew I had a hitchhiker.”
That’s a bonus saltwater anglers enjoy because hitchhikers are lingcod who have a penchant to claim easy meals in the form of hooked fish.
Sheila Ward, 66, was well aware how to handle the challenge.
“I knew to bring the fish up slowly and not to lift the ling’s head out of the water. Things happened quickly once I got the fish up. My vision was blocked, and for an instant, I feared the ling was lost. But the deckhand (Dustin Miles) gaffed the fish and brought it on board.”
Back at Port San Luis, the fish weighed 21 pounds. It’s the heaviest fish caught this season by Patriot anglers.
Ward’s catch put her in first place in the second phase (July and August) of Patriot’s 11th-annual Lingcod Contest.
Twenty-four passengers entered the jackpot competition. Robert Ward paid for both himself and his wife. Twenty-nine lings were caught. Sheila Ward had the jackpot winner while her husband went without catching a lingcod.
July 4 was the first of two Free Fishing Days in California waters when no license is required. The other this year will be Sept. 5.
Live bait is now available on all trips and may be purchased at the office on Harford Pier.
Other jackpot winners included: Andrew Park, Santa Maria, 14-0 ling, Louise Wolden, Visalia, 12-0 ling, Gilbert Alcantar, Orcutt, 11-0 ling, Nathen Pech, Arroyo Grande, and John Maclsaac, Clovis, both 10-0 lings, Alexander Lopez, Artesia, 8-0 ling and Sean Oh, Los Angeles, 5-0 ling.
Last week 242 patrons caught 108 lingcod, 221 red rockcod, 1,262 assorted rockfish, 598 bolina, 74 coppers, 54 Dungeness crab, nine cabezon, four kelp greenling and one rubberlip perch.
For trip schedules and reservations, go to www.patriotsportfishing.com or call 595-7200.
Port San Luis Boatyard
For the first time this season, the catch of a halibut qualified as the “Whopper of the Week.”
Randy Pharr of Templeton landed a 39.11-pound halibut July 5 to claim the free boat launch.
The catch brings into focus the renewal of the Port San Luis Halibut Derby set for July 25-26.
It’s not too early to enter the event, which was a late July extravaganza from 1994 to 2009. The event drew as many as 127 participants in 2000.
Nipomo angler Andy Koch cranked up the largest flattie. His 2009 winner weighed in at 54.2 pounds.
Brent Lintner of the Sports Launch, has set the entry fee at $100 per person, which is good for both competition days. Everyone aboard tournament boats must be entered. All halibut brought to the scales must measure at least 24 inches. The daily bag limit is three fish.
Eighty percent of the entry money will be returned in prizes and the remaining 20 percent will cover the set up of the post-event barbecue to take place Sunday adjacent to the Sports Launch.
A 24.4-pound lingcod, the largest of the year, was caught by Bakersfield’s Andrew Lopez June 30 on the Fiesta.
Qualifier No. 13 for the end-of-the-year John Rowley Lingcod competition is William Both of Ontario. He caught a 15.7 ling June 25 aboard the Black Pearl on a shallow-water trip.
Other jackpot winners included: Casey Jones, Clovis, 14.6 ling, and Marcelio Rodriguez of Porterville with a 7.8 ling.
On June 27, Doug LaRose of Los Osos caught an 8-foot thresher shark estimated to weigh 100 pounds. All the passengers on the Rita G went home with thresher steaks donated by LaRose.
As of July 3 Virg’s lingcod harvest passed the 3,000 mark.
For reservations and trip schedules, go online on to www.virgslanding.com or call 772-1222.
Morro Bay Landing
Large lingcod are being caught all over the Central Coast, including Morro Bay Landing. A Shafter angler, Larry Tuck, reeled in a 19-pounder June 30. The previous week Toni Rees of Coalinga bagged a 21-pounder.
Live bait is now available on trips and for the public at the landing’s office 1213 Embarcadero.
For reservations, trip schedules go online to www.morrobaylanding.com or call 771-5500.
Results were the same last week — three anglers and no fish. It has been the story for eight weeks in a row. The facility has been open for 53 days. Fishing opportunities are Wednesdays through Sundays.
Santa Margarita Lake
Mackey Cove and surrounding areas has been the “hot location” for redear and bluegill.
Marina manager Ken Hemer said: “Mealworms or red worms fished under a bobber was the best technique. Nice crappie have been caught under docks in the White Oak area. The same location has yielded catfish up to 5 pounds.”