Fishing Report: SLO angler wins tournament at shallow Nacimiento Lake

While the lake is a mini image of its normal self, its present condition is revealing the secrets of the deep not witnessed in decades.

For sure, tournament bass fishermen who compete on Nacimiento Lake are either filling notebooks with vital information or committing to memory the topography nuances that only a body of water at a mere 12 percent of capacity can disclose.

Rocky structure usually deep under water currently is exposed. Experienced anglers are filing away strategies to be utilized in future competitions when what is visible now will be engulfed by water.

Perhaps iPods or other electronic gadgets are being utilized in recording present lake conditions.

Nacimiento Lake was the site of a U.S. Angler’s Choice event Saturday and the idiosyncrasies that are part of tournament bass fishing came into play once more.

Steve Bereda, an accomplished competitor, was paired once again with another veteran angler with a long successful history in the sport, Burt Lund. They were a team six or eight years ago. The duo pre-fished the lake two days prior to the tournament.

“We were catching bass right and left. I told my wife (Kay) that Burt and I were going to have a great day,” Bereda said. “I thought we might even win it and I usually don’t tell her that.”

On the other hand, Aaron Quarles didn’t bother to practice for the first of seven tests on the 2009-10 Angler’s Choice Central Coast schedule.

So what happened?

Bereda, from Santa Margarita, and Lund, from Atascadero, finished 11th with a 5.88-pound limit.

“We culled fish twice but we never got a bite after 10:30,” Bereda groaned.

And Quarles?

“I grew up fishing Laguna Lake so cold, muddy water doesn’t bother me,” the 31-year-old San Luis Obispo resident confided.

Competing without a partner in a team tournament is considered to be a handicap. Not this time. Sal Rocha Jr., who will be Quarles’ teammate this season, had to cancel at the last minute.

So Quarles made do without the help of Patriot Sportfishing’s saltwater skipper.

Fishing in water 5 to 15 feet throughout, Quarles said he caught 13 to 15 fish.

“I used plastics with dark hues,” the said. What he didn’t disclose was where he caught his fish. “There are more tournaments coming up at Nacimiento, in fact, I may be in one this weekend.”

W.O.N. Bass has scheduled its third tournament of the 2009-10 season at Nacimiento Lake for Saturday. Jim Slusher, proprietor of Jim’s Pro Bass Tackle in Paso Robles, is the new W.O.N. tournament director. He succeeds Bill Cook, the longtime director from Bakersfield. Cook has taken over the directorship of several Angler’s Choice circuits. Last season, Quarles and teammate Casey Langley sniffed the rarified air near the top of the Angler’s Choice leaderboard but never quite made it. The duo had a pair of seconds and a third place in finishing as runners-up in the standings. This circuit combines points and fish weights in its scoring system. A 10th- place at Lopez last January — when they caught only three fish — cost the team Anglers-of-the-Year honors. They were literally one fish away.

Dec. 5 became a red-letter day for Quarles, whose 8.96-pound limit brought him his first championship by a mere 28-hundredths of a pound and a pay day of $3,355, the largest of his career. His limit included two largemouths and a smallie. Fishing alone has its advantages. He didn’t have to split the purse.

The difference maker was an afternoon catch of a 2.77-pound largemouth. He identified the location only as “a windy flat.” It was the second-largest fish of the tournament that attracted 32 teams who had 17 limits. Quarles and Langley had total winnings of $2,735 for six tourneys last season. Angler’s Choice Top 10 (All 5-fish limits), Weight, Winnings — 1. Aaron Quarles, San Luis Obispo, 8.96 pounds,$3,355; 2. Miles Howe, Laguna Nigel, Manas Malakian, Huntington Beach, 8.68 pounds, $1,775; 3. Carlos & Jacob Vasquez, Soledad, 7.75 pounds, $760; 4. Gene Gray, Dusty Kahler, Atascadero, 7.33 pounds, $605; 5. Roger Haas, Morro Bay, Jerry Williams, Porterville, 6.97 pounds, $445; 6. Matt Jackson, John Zulic, 6.87 pounds, $250; 7. Jay & Matt Short, Templeton, 6.79 pounds; 8. Jason Letterman, Ken Restani, Salinas, 6.78 pounds; 9. Mike Pierce, John Shaw, 6.37 pounds; 10. Darrin Bishop, Paso Robles, Del Bishop, Templeton, 6.01 pounds.1st Big Fish, 3.65 pounds, Howe & Malakian; 2nd Big Fish, 2.77 pounds, Quarles. Outdoor gift suggestions: