The winner of Saturday’s bass tournament at Santa Margarita Lake left practice the previous day convinced that the fish were confused.
After the competition, his fellow anglers were as confused as the bass.
Twenty-six teams entered the American Bass Pacific Coast Region tournament and only four duos posted five-fish limits.
While many teams hugged shorelines focusing on bed fish, Lompoc’s Ken Whalen and partner Chris Mullins took a different approach based on what Whalen learned in practice — he never got a bite fishing from shore to 15 feet out.
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“Our approach was to fish in water 25 to 35 feet deep,” Whalen said. The strategy brought almost immediate dividends. “Between 6:15 and 6:30, a fish bit so hard it nearly ripped the rod out of my hands,” Whalen said. “She really wanted the bottom runner I had on — an Osprey Tournament Talon.”
What he cranked up from 30 feet of water was the second-largest bass of the tournament, a 10.28-pound female that had already spawned. The fish anchored the team’s winning four-fish, 21.68-pound bag weight worth a purse of $2,740.
“She was released alive back into the lake,” Whalen said proudly. “It’s the biggest bass I’ve ever caught. I’m having a fiberglass mount made as I may never catch another 10-pounder. She was 271⁄4 inches long with a girth of 17 inches.”
Whalen caught the team’s second fish on a Senko while Mullins caught two by drop shotting. Their margin of victory over Salinas’ Jason Letterman and Scott Mullins was 2.84 pounds. The top 10 teams caught only 35 fish total.
Apparently, cold snaps have discouraged a large segment of the bass population from spawning to the dismay of anglers who had expected fish to be on beds.
“My wife, Tina, is my sponsor,” Whalen said. “She lets me fish three different circuits and I give her half of my winnings.” ABA Top 10, Number of Fish, Weight, Winnings — 1. Ken Whalen, Chris Mullins, Lompoc, 4, 21.68 pounds, $2,740; 2. Jason Letterman, Scott Mullins, Salinas, 5, 18.84 pounds, $824; 3. Darrin Bishop, Paso Robles, Dean Miller, Tulare, 5, 17.41 pounds, $400; 4. Louis Fernandes, Santa Maria, Patrick Touey, Nipomo, 5, 14.75 pounds, $250; 5. George Stamper, Paso Robles, Byron Hallett, Templeton, 5, 13.58 pounds; 6. Dan Tracy, Sr. & Jr., Prunedale, 2, 12.68 pounds, $624; 7. Tyler Clark & Paul Vertullo, 4, 12.31 pounds, $124; 8. Scott Hellesen & Stuart Hein, 4, 11.39 pounds, $50; 9. Carlos& Jacob Vasquez, Soledad, 3, 9.09 pounds; 10. Steve Fernandes, Santa Maria, Mark Pollorena, Buellton, 3, 7.80 pounds.1st Big Fish, 10.86 pounds, Tracy & Tracy, $624; 2nd Big Fish, 10.28 pounds, Whalen & Mullins, $375; 3rd Big Fish, 5.29 pounds, Bishop & Miller, $250.
Port San Luis Boatyard
Winds and bumpy seas continue to harass fishermen during the first five days of the rockcod season.
Eleven boats were dispatched for Saturday’s season opener and 15 Sunday. No fish were weighed.
A 121⁄2-pound lingcod topped the Monday catch. Anglers aboard 10 boats returned with three-quarter limits, including five lingcods. Half to three-quarter limits were recorded Tuesday. Seven lingcod and one halibut were caught by anglers on 11 boats. Only a few fish were caught Wednesday. Five boats were launched and back in before 11:30 a.m.
Central Coast Sportfishing
Donald Beck of Visalia won Saturday’s jackpot with a 5-pound copper rockfish while Nick Mendoza, Paso Robles took Sunday honors aboard the Rita G with a 41/2-pound red rockcod.Weekend totals for 43 anglers included 178 red rockcod, 170 assorted rockfish, 21 coppers, 19 bocaccio, one lingcod, one ocean white fish and one salmon released.
For trip schedules and reservations call 772-3474 or 704-2084.
Saturday’s opening day totals for 104 passengers included 304 red rockcod, 406 assorted rockfish, 50 bocaccio and one rock sole. Jackpot winners were: Mel Roberts, Bakersfield, 6-pound red rockcod, Julian Hertado, Paso Robles, 5-pound red, and Cindy Edwards, United Kingdom, 4-pound red.
Reservations are being taken for a 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. trip Friday. Cost is $105. For reservations and trip schedules call 772-1222.
Weekend trips drew 253 passengers. The total catch: Red rockcod 186, assorted rockfish 253, bolina 341, lingcod 13, starry flounder 1, cabezon 1. Jackpot winners were: Danny Dorquez, Fresno, 8-pound lingcod, John Moore, Taft, 5-pound vermillion, George Hartman, Tulare, 8-pound lingcod, Joe Torres, Arroyo Grande, 17-pound, 9-ounce lingcod.
Long-range trips from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. are scheduled for Friday and Saturday with $66 fares. Half days (7 a.m. to noon) are slated for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Fares are $51. A long-range trip from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday has a $78 fare. For reservations, call 595-7200.
Santa Margarita Lake
Art Ferguson of Paso Robles caught a 21⁄2-pound redear on a nightcrawler. Steve Goldman of Santa Margarita reeled in nine crappie ranging from 1 pound to 21⁄2 pounds. The algae bloom is clearing and should be gone by the weekend, marina manager Don Lopez said.
Lake San Antonio
For Ever Resorts is banning fishing within 200 feet of the marina. The shad are on the surface and stripers are boiling on them near the marina. Nick Pena reports the water temperature as near 70 degrees. Net-dipped shad are working for a prolific catfish harvest.
The bountiful evening bite for white bass continues. Heritage Ranch resident Dave Rymal fished from his pontoon boat early this week in Heritage Cove. The white bass chasing shad are not as big as in recent weeks, Rymal said.
Micha Miranda of Grover Beach caught a 51⁄2-pound largemouth Saturday while fishing by the dam with a plastic crawdad. Using a yellow crappie jig, Ben Steele of Redondo Beach bagged a 21⁄2-pound redear at Strawberry Flats.
Two trout were caught last week as 19 fishermen checked in. Jeremy Harkins caught a 15-inch fish on a lure while Gary Collier used PowerBait to attract a 16-inch trout. The reservoir is open for fishing from Wednesdays through Sundays.
Bassmaster Elite Circuit
Jared Lintner and 92 other pros begin the second half of the schedule today at Alabama’s Lake Guntersville. After placing 51st and out of the money last week at Pickwick Lake, Lintner slipped from 26th to a tie for 27th in the Angler of the Year standings with 801 points. His Elite winnings remained at $21,500. He dropped from 32nd to 39th in winnings.