For the first time in decades, Nacimiento Lake will be the site of a W.O.N. Bass Pro-Am tournament and two Central Coast residents can hardly wait.
Gene Gray of Atascadero and Darrin Bishop of Paso Robles qualified for the Oct. 19-20 W.O.N. Bass Pro-Am championship as a result of their efforts in three north division tournaments.
The latest of these was contested at Clear Lake on June 9-10.
Gray had a fourth-place finish in a field of 111 pro bass fishermen. Bishop finished 31st.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"I'm looking forward to fishing a major tournament at Nacie, a lake that I have been fishing since the 1970s," Gray said. "Competing on a lake you know very well can have its disadvantages. Someone new to the lake can view it differently and have great success while you can be locked into some plan that should work but doesn't."
One thing is for sure. The size of the fish the pros will be catching at Nacimiento Lake won't be anywhere near the size of the fish caught last weekend at Clear Lake.
"I threw my favorite lure, Senkos," Gray said. "I fished it both weightless and with weight. My smallest fish both days was 4 1/2 pounds. I caught 35 fish a day easy and culled 4-pounders all day long. That won't happen at Nacie where spotted bass are the predominant bass species."
Gray, who has been fishing Clear Lake since 1988, had his best Pro-Am finish there. He had a 25.58-pound limit Saturday and followed up with a 29.95 bag weight. His 55.53-two day weight was worth $4,250 for fourth place.
His sixth place in January at Lake Shasta was worth $3,800. At The Delta in March, he was 60th.
Bishop's best finish was in the opener at Lake Shasta where his 16th-place finish paid him $750. He was out of the money in placing 31st at Clear Lake with a two-day weight of 41.93 pounds.
Last month Gray qualified for the FLW Stren Series Championship to be held at the Mobile, Ala., Delta on Nov. 8-11. Gray ranked 10th after four Western Division tourneys and for the second year in a row he is a national qualifier.
Clear Lake placings of other Central Coast pros was: 26. Casey Langley, Arroyo Grande 43.05 pounds; 103. Shawn Lee, Arroyo Grande, 30.92 pounds; 110. Dale Ball, Creston, 21.49 pounds.
Bryan Vogt of Paso Robles finished 94th in the AAA (amateur division) with 32.46 pounds of fish