Why is it that bass fishermen make their best catches when it doesn’t count and not during a tournament when it does? While perusing a recent Bass News release the germ of a column idea jumped off the page.
One of Jared Lintner’s fellow Bassmaster Elite anglers, Alton Jones of Waco, Texas, reported a fantastic accomplishment in his Nov. 6 blog — a five-fish bass limit of 50 pounds, 8 ounces.
It didn’t happen in a tournament. Jones was just doing what dedicated fishermen do. He was fishing for the fun of it. His fantastic limit was recorded at Falcon Lake, a prolific Texas bass fishery near the Mexican border.
If the fete had happened in an Elite tournament the weight would have obliterated the existing BASS record of 45 pounds, 2 ounces set by Dean Rojas in January 2001 at Florida’s Lake Tohopekaliga.
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That got me thinking. What’s the best bass limit registered by some of the Central Coast’s best tournament anglers?
I wasn’t successful in reaching all of the desired contacts. Perhaps, some others will respond after deadline and be included in a future column. Here’s what they told me:
Jared Lintner, 36, Arroyo Grande
He immediately harkened back to Feb. 28, 2004, at Santa Margarita Lake and recalled a 37-pound tournament weight.
By thumbing through my collection of 3-inch binders crammed with stories, notes and 27 years of columns, I found the precise weight.
When Jared and his wife, Keri, finished fishing that day they posted a 37.65-pound weight in that Tri Valley tournament, which they won by more than 20 pounds. Actually, their combined weight was for six fish; Tri Valley is the lone local tournament series that does not adhere to the traditional five-fish limit.
With good reason, Lintner lists Clear Lake as his favorite lake. That’s where he caught his biggest bass, 14.85 pounds during a W.O.N. Bass Pro-Am competition in the spring 2000. It’s also where he registered his heaviest single-day limit in his four years on the Bassmaster Elite tour. On day two of the Elite event in 2007, he weighed a 29-7 limit He finished ninth with 20 bass totaling 97 pounds, 4 ounces.
Locally, Lopez is dear to his heart. “While in high school that’s where I fished day after day first from shore, then from an aluminum boat,” he said. “It’s where I fished last week with my son, JC, and good friend Rich Zeilenga.
“This time of year you can work on techniques in which you are not proficient. Besides, it’s not crowded and it’s peaceful.” John White, 68, San Luis Obispo
“When I’ve fished all day at Clear Lake, I’m sure there were some 35-pound limits on swimbaits. That lake is full of big fish. I love to flip and on any cast you could come up with a 10-pound fish.” He’s landed a trio of 10-pound bass, one of the two at Clear Lake was in a W.O.N. Bass Pro-Am in the mid 1980s. His other 10-pounder was at Lake Isabella.
He added: “El Salto in Mexico is a fantastic lake. I’ve only been there three times but the memories of huge catches haven’t faded.” Darrin Bishop, 39, Paso Robles
“My best weight locally was a 26-8 at Lopez. In practice at Lopez, I’ve hit 30 pounds but I never put the fish on scales. (Santa) Margarita is the only local lake where there are 10-pound kicker fish. My biggest practice fish there was an 11-pounder.”
Fishing an Angler’s Choice Pro-Am at the California Delta in 2005 he had a 30-pound limit. “It occurred during the spawn.” Frank Fernandes, 58, Santa Maria
“I haven’t been fishing lately because I have designed and patented a Side Arm Gun Rack for hunters to use on their ATV quads.” The Web site under construction is: www.brand7products.com
“My all-time favorite lake is Alabama’s Lake Guntersville. You can catch 6-, 7, 8-, 9-pound fish all day long.”
Clear Lake and The Delta are his favorite California lakes. Locally, it’s Lopez. That’s where he’s caught his big fish, a 12-pounder in practice. His best weight in practice was 28.03 and in a tournament it was 26-8. They were both at Lopez. Roger Haas, 51, Morro Bay
“Kevin Rayner (of Templeton) and I were fishing at Margarita in March of 2009 and we had a 13.03, an 8 and three over 6 pounds. It would have given us a 39-pound limit. And two casts before catching that 13-pounder we had one on that would have gone at least 10 pounds. But it came unbuttoned.”
Of course that was during practice. “Kevin and Tom Wise had a little over 40 pounds at Margarita in 2007. A 12-pounder was in their catch.”
Santa Margarita, Clear Lake and Lake Mead are his favorites.
“But, I haven’t fished Mead in many years.”
Haas added that he and Todd Livermore of San Luis Obispo harvested 17 albacore fishing 29 miles out of Morro Bay near the end of September. The tuna ranged from 15 to 22 pounds. Gene Gray, 54, Atascadero
“I remember my biggest bag weight very well. It was at The Delta on the first day of an FLW Stren Series tournament (May 14, 2008). A 9-15 fish anchored my 27-10 weight. That day, I also had a 10-pounder hooked. I t jumped out of the water twice before spitting the hook. In practice at Santa Margarita I’ve had a 32-pound limit — two sevens and three sixes.” Steve Bereda, 58, Santa Margarita
“The biggest bass I ever caught I ate. It tasted good, too. But that was 18 years ago before I became a tournament angler. (He never weighed it.) Now I release them. It’s been many years since I last kept a bass. About five years ago I was fun fishing at (Santa) Margarita and had a 31-pound limit. My favorite lake to fish depends on where they are biting.” Santa Margarita Lake
Christina Hutchison and her son, Colin, 15, caught 31 crappie in The Narrows on Saturday using Christmas Tree glitter crappie jigs. On Friday, Otis White of Maricopa and John Howard of Bakersfield caught seven catfish ranging from 8 to 17 pounds. They fished across from the marina with anchovies for bait.
The marina will be closed today. Lopez LakeThe marina will be open from 7 a.m. to noon today.