To paraphrase: Neither fire nor smoke and ash or unyielding weed mats could keep John White and Co. from another top 10 finish at Clear Lake.
Fires in Lake County, where White has owned a home for 12 years, were a major concern for the veteran bass fisherman whose main residence is in San Luis Obispo.
White said that his first encounter with fires occurred in August while he was at his Lucerne vacation home.
“There was a blaze only two or three blocks away. Thankfully it was extinguished overnight by huge tanker planes dropping fire retardant.”
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The inferno that wiped out Middletown was roaring not far south of Clear Lake on Sept. 12 and 13 when Bob’s Marine of Modesto resumed its 11th annual tournament at the lake after a one-year hiatus.
White and Steve Bereda, his longtime partner in WON Bass, American Bass and other venues on the Central Coast, had a scintillating opening day.
Anchoring their 24.50-pound bag weight was a 7.66-pound bass that Santa Margarita’s Bereda boated via the flipping routine from a weed bed hiding place. It was Day 1’s big fish and provided a lead, albeit just by less than a pound.
“Our approach both days was flipping in weed beds,” White said. “My inability to perform cost us.
“I had four fish on Sunday, and two of them were in the four- to five-pound range. They came unbuttoned while I was pulling them out of the weeds.”
Their 14.16-pound limit Sunday meant sliding to an eighth place finish with 38.66 pounds worth $380.
It was White’s seventh top 10 finish, including two firsts, two seconds, a sixth and a 10th.
Winning Ways Kept Secret
With a date at Nacimiento a month away, Damon Meeks, elected not to reveal how he won an Ambushers’ tourney at the same venue last Saturday.
The coy Atascadero angler and his partner Jay Short have a 101 Bass TOC date at Lopez Lake and Nacimiento Lake Oct. 17 and 18.
Meeks won his second Ambushers tourney in a row by employing jigs.
“They worked all over the lake.” It’s all he’d say about catching 25 to 30 fish.
Erik Zillig, who finished second, added “big fish” honors.
“I caught it (2.07 pounds) in two feet of water with a Super Spook.”
SLO Bass Ambushers Top 10
No. of Fish, Weight, Winnings:
1. Damon Meeks, Atascadero, five, 9.74 pounds, $222.50.
2. Erik Zillig, Paso Robles, five, 8.94 pounds, $130.50.
3. Richard Bustos, Greenfield, five, 8.78 pounds, $87.
4. Jerry May, Paso Robles, five, 8.54 pounds.
5. Jim Keeney, Paso Robles, five, 7.50 pounds.
6. Craig Zillig, Creston, five, 7.27 pounds.
7. Mike Garza, five, 6.96 pounds.
8. Marc Hazuka, Atascadero, five, 6.42 pounds.
9. Burt Lund, Atascadero, five, 6.33 pounds;
10. Tom White, King City, four, 4.86 pounds.
First: Big Fish, 2.07 pounds, Erik Zillig, $65.
Qualifier No. 23 for the December John Rowley Lingcod event is a Simi Valley resident, Justin Prouchy. He had the heaviest ling during the week ending Sept. 4. It was an 18.9 pound fish. The catch was made on a 10-hour Friday trip aboard the Princess.
Fourteen trips were offered last week with 364 passengers catching: 3,538 fish, including 211 lingcod on Virg’s three boats. A few bonito, whitefish and sheephead were in the mix.
Jack Woodbridge of Coalinga took jackpot honors with an 18.8 ling on a trip to the San Simeon area with Captain Rowley in the Princess wheelhouse.
Thirty-two lings were caught by the 44 anglers.
Skipper Frank Kelly guided the Rita G to the Domes area Sept. 8. Brian Fien of Tulare had the big fish, an 8-pound ling.
Cambria’s Jim Webb, a frequent patron who often wins jackpots, did it again Sept. 11 with a 10-pound ling at San Simeon.
Also winning jackpots on other trips were Larry Austin of Oceano with a 12.8 ling and Chelsea White of Taft with a 16.2 ling.
Port San Luis Boatyard
A total of 473 bonito were caught last week, 146 on Saturday and 210 on Sunday. Bonito have attracted so much attention that anglers aboard the three boats launched on Thursday focused only on bonito, not rockcod.
Whopper of the Week honors went to Jed Hasay of Arroyo Grande. He caught a 16-pound bonito Sept. 19. A total of 116 boats were launched last week and
114 lingcod were counted. Full rockcod limits were recorded five days and three quarter limits once.
Morro Bay Landing
Topping the catches made last week was a 20-pound lingcod by San Luis Obispo’s Richard McConaghay.
Other jackpot winners were: McConaghay and Richard Eskew, Kingsburg, both 15-pound lings, Will Troondly, Visalia, 14-pound ling, Milton Cox, Temecula, 9-pound ling, and Stephen Giordano, Santa Maria, 8-pound ling.
The catch by 211 passengers last week included: 193 lingcod, 800 red rockcod, 1,093 assorted rockfish, 53 coppers, 18 bonito, and two cabezon.
These were the only jackpot fish that Patriot’s crews turned in to marina staff: Hector Garcia, Fresno, 14-pound ling, Joey Sanders, Arroyo Grande and Bernado Salcedo, Bakersfield, both 10-pound lings, Dan Barnes, Albany, Ore., 9-pound ling and Jesse Kim, Santa Maria,
Harvest totals were: 67 lingcod,
339 red rockcod, 1,218 assorted rockfish, 52 coppers, 24 bocaccio, and five bonito.
Only one angler showed up during the September 16 to 20 open period. No fish were caught. The facility is open for fishing Wednesdays through Sundays.