Ah, bass fishermen! They’re a group unto their own.
Sometimes they will wax hyperbolic over a catch. At other times you can’t pry the details of their accomplishment out of them.
The latter was what I encountered as I attempted to interview the winner of the SLO County Bass Ambushers tournament.
Steve Bereda was my tight-lipped interviewee. And his tournament boat partner, Tucker Sanders, who had placed second, also maintained a vow of silence.
Meanwhile, the winning team in the Tri Valley tourney at Santa Margarita Lake, could not be reached for an interview. The first-timers came from Carmel Valley and Salinas. Normally, only San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara county anglers compete in club events.
Back to Bereda. Usually, the Santa Margarita resident is a fountain of information whenever I’ve called him to learn how he’d won a tournament. And he’s won many.
Bereda did divulge that both he and Sanders used the same tactics to catch their fish.
“I can’t tell you how we did it and I won’t lie about it,” was his plea.
Bereda, 58, won the Ambushers’ event at Lopez Lake with a 16.57-pound limit worth $302. Sanders, 19, finished second with a 15.7-pound, five-fish limit.
“I could not have had a better person to fish with,” said Sanders, a Fresno State sophomore majoring in land surveying. “We caught fish all day. Sure, we really got wet. It poured much of the day. Quitting early, however, was not an option. I caught my biggest bass ever (5.17 pounds) 20 minutes until weigh-in.”
Only six limits were caught by the 25 participants. Four of the five teenagers had five fish.
There was good reason for the joint silence. Bereda and Burt Lund of Atascadero are planning on entering Saturday’s Angler’s Choice competition at Lopez. Tournament-winning purses in the first three of these contests have averaged more than $3,000.
Darrin and Del Bishop, winners of one of those big paydays, will be among the entrants. So will Jared Lintner before he leaves Sunday for the Bassmaster Elite opener a week from today at the California Delta.
Ambushers Top 10, Number of Fish, Weight, Winnings — 1. Steve Bereda, Santa Margarita, 5, 16.57 pounds, $302; 2. Tucker Sanders, Atascadero, 5, 15.70 pounds; 3. Byran Vogt, Paso Robles, 4, 15.64 pounds, $181.50; 4. Josh Brard, Atascadero, 4, 14.68 pounds, $121; 5. Greg Hanley, Paso Robles, 3, 12.09 pounds; 6. Damon Meeks, Atascadero, 5, 10.95 pounds; 7. Austin Bonjour, Atascadero, 5, 10.51 pounds; 8. Jacob Lewis, Atascadero, 5, 10.49 pounds; 9. Jeremy Lewis, Atascadero, 5, 10.17 pounds; 10. Clay Gates, Paso Robles, 3, 9.85 pounds.Big Fish, 6.66 pounds, Greg Hanley, $120.
Gray finishes fourth
Atascadero bass pro Gene Gray, 54, is fresh off a fourth-place finish in an Angler’s Choice Pro-Am tournament on Lake Oroville. The event was held in rainy, overcast conditions Saturday and under blue skies Sunday.
His placing in the field of 92 pros paid $2,943.
Gray has had a fantastic 2010 tournament. In early January he earned $4,869 at Lake Shasta by placing 42nd in a field of 140 pros in the FLW National Guard series. Both venues have three remaining events.
At Oroville, Gray had the fifth-heaviest fish on day one, 3.28 pounds, and was in third place. After a Saturday limit of 13.64 pounds, he dipped to 11.45 pounds Sunday. His 25.09-pound final bag weight was just two pounds behind winner Chris Zaldain, who earned $10,453.
“My Saturday limit included three reaction bait fish and two on Senkos. On Sunday, all the fish I weighed came on Senkos,” Gray said.
Tri Valley tournament
Ken Restani of Carmel Valley and partner Jason Letterman of Salinas, who teamed for the win last week at Santa Margarita Lake in the Tri Valley tourney, also will be entered in this week’s Angler’s Choice battle. Currently, the duo ranks second in the standings.
There was a record turnout of 49 teams last week.
Nick Salvucci, who will be paired with Lintner this weekend, crafted a second place Tri Valley finish with Jeremy Burns. They had second-big fish (7.87 pounds) and a weight of 19.05 pounds for four fish.
Restani and Letterman had only four fish for a 26.80 bag, but their big fish weighed 11.90 pounds and accounted for $340 of their first- place purse of $1,150.
Thirty-nine teams caught 158 fish while 10 duos blanked. There were seven six-fish team limits and nine teams weighed five bass. Tri Valley Top 10, Number of Fish, Weight, Winnings — 1. Ken Restani, Carmel Valley, Jason Letterman, Salinas, 4, 26.80 pounds, $1,150; 2. Nick Salvucci, San Miguel, Jeremy Burns, Paso Robles, 4 , 19.43 pounds, $440; 3. Dana & Clayton Chatterly, Lompoc, 6, 19.05 pounds, $360; 4. Pat Fadeley, Santa Margarita, Kevin Rayner, Templeton, 5, 18.80 pounds, $220; 5. Danny Knotts, Skeeter Moore, Santa Maria, 6, 17.52 pounds, $180; 6. Ron & Derek Morrison, Lompoc, 5, 17.31 pounds, $130; 7. Jim Keeney, Tom Ryan, Paso Robles, 6, 17.10 pounds; 8. Andrew Broster, Colton Gottfried, Atascadero, 6, 16.51 pounds; 9.Mike Truhitte, Bill Lukeman, Santa Maria, 6, 15.83 pounds; 10 (tie) Bill & Pat Twomey, Lompoc, 6, 15.51 pounds; Johnny Johnson & Rob Marquez, Santa Maria, 6, 15.51 pounds.1st Big Fish, 11.90 pounds, Restani & Letterman,$340; 2nd Big Fish, 7.87 pounds, Salvucci & Burns, $170.