Three county anglers qualify for state bass tournament

Three San Luis Obispo County residents survived last week’s regional qualifier at Lopez Lake and punched their entry credentials for next month’s California State Bass Fishing Championship.

The three made their way to the championship event be placing among the top 10 finishers Friday at Lopez Lake.

A fourth SLO County resident, Dale Ball of Creston, earned a spot in the Region 4 Tournament July 23 on the Sacramento River. Ball, a part-time resident of Clear Lake, advanced to the regional tournament by five-hundredths of a pound in the local event at Clear Lake earlier this year. He placed ninth.

Advancing out of the Lopez competition were Darrin Bishop and James Keeney, both of Paso Robles, and Casey Langley of Arroyo Grande. The championship is set for Aug. 12-13 at Clear Lake.

The Wittenberg arm of the lake is where all three anglers planned to begin their quest. Bishop, 39, was the fourth boat out and he went directly to where he had caught fish during a half-day of practice nearly a week before the competition.

“I fished really slow and deep in 25 to 45 feet of water,” Bishop said. “I caught seven fish in the first two hours. I caught three limits of fish —10 on drop shot, four or five on Senkos and several on shaky head plastics.”

Bishop was sure he had qualified for Clear Lake but was not certain he had won. He weighed in early. His 18.36 pounds topped the field of 40 men who had earned berths in the regional via top-10 finishes at Pyramid, Cachuma, Castaic or Nacimiento tournaments.   

Although he was the 36th boat out, Keeney, 67, ignored the fact that there were 15 or more boats in the Wittenberg arm by the time he arrived.

“I squeezed in and fished a spot I’d found in practice,” Kenney said. “Although I got hung up a lot, I fished a spot over a fallen tree in 25 to 30 feet of water. I had a limit by 9:30. I only had seven jig bites but was able to cull two fish. My last fish was caught around 11 o’clock. That 5-pounder enabled me to replace a 2-pounder.”

Keeney fished within sight of Bishop all day. At the weigh-in, Keeney finished 1.24 pounds behind Bishop with a 17.12-pound bag weight.

Langley, who turned 29 on July 1, changed his game plan when he drew the 31st spot out Friday morning. Upon seeing a flotilla in the Wittenberg Arm, he headed for Lopez where he quickly abandoned topwater fishing.

“Instead, I focused on ripping jigs through brush piles,” Langley said. “I caught 25 fish but only eight were keepers.”

Langley placed 10th with an 11.55-pound bag weight, which was 0.76 better than 11th-place finisher, Doug Chessmore of Santa Barbara.

Langley’s wife, Katie, is expecting a son on July 24. “My mother-in-law has agreed to bail me out so I can compete at one of my favorite lakes (Clear Lake) next month.” Cal Bass Lopez Qualifiers

1. Darrin Bishop, Paso Robles, 18.36 pounds; 2. James Keeney, Paso Robles, 17.12 pounds; 3. Brian Evans, Ojai, 16.47 pounds; 4. Mike Reese, Ventura, 14.52 pounds; 5. Steve Davies, Edwards, 13.76 pounds; 6. Michael Knight, Bakersfield, 13.67 pounds; 7. Jay Rich, Bakersfield, 13.21 pounds; 8. Richard Neal, Bakersfield, 12.18 pounds; 9. Jess Settem, Moorpark, 11.71 pounds; 10. Casey Langley, Arroyo Grande, 11.55 pounds.

SLO, Santa Barbara, Monterey County Nonqualifiers, Place, Weight

11. Doug Chessmore, Santa Barbara, 10.79 pounds; 14. Ken Sauret, Paso Robles, 10.24 pounds; 15. Chris Rains, Soledad, 9.87 pounds; 16. Clark Small, Solvang, 9.66 pounds; 18. Damon Meeks, Atascadero, 9.20 pounds; 19. Stan Skou, Los Alamos, 8.65 pounds; 25. Larry Zepeda, Nipomo, 6.46 pounds; 28. Tai Martin, San Luis Obispo, 4.85 pounds; 34. Bryan Vogt, Paso Robles, 3.64 pounds. (Competed but did not weigh catch —Jason Letterman, Salinas, Mark Hinson, San Luis Obispo.)

 Kids At Sea Trip

If you’re 18 or under and have not fished aboard a boat on the ocean, you can Tuesday. Parents who accompany their youngster should be prepared to help kids. For reservations on the 8 a.m. to noon trip aboard the Rita G, call Central Coast Sportfishing: 772-3474. Participants must be at 725 Embarcadero, next to Rose’s Landing, by 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. The open boat trip is free.

Virg’s Landing

David Huey of Bakersfield and Jakob Manfyard of Sweden led jackpot winners with lingcod weighing 16 and 12 pounds, respectively. Other winners were Darlene Vanquez, Bakersfield, 7-pound lingcod, Jeff Bennett, Hanford, and Jackson Caldera, Clovis, both 6-pound lingcod, Bill Bixman, Tollhouse, 6-pound red rockcod and Kenny Diaz, Morro Bay and Jesse Turner, Kentucky, both 5-pound lingcod.

Long-range 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. trips are slated for Fridays and Sundays for $89. The next overnight trip will be July 24-25 for $205. Call 772-1222 for reservations.

Last week 344 passengers caught 35 lingcod, 1,064 red rockcod, 1,556 assorted rockfish, 104 bocaccio, 289 coppers, 20 ocean whitefish, 1 rock sole and 15 sanddabs.

 Patriot Sportfishing

Lingcod weighing more than 19 pounds topped last week’s catch by 348 passengers. David Glass, Lompoc, caught a 19-12 ling on July 11 while Pete Terronez of Bakersfield harvested a 19-2 lingcod July 8. Other jackpot winners included Ron York, San Luis Obispo, 18-2 lingcod; John DiFronzo, Pismo Beach, Ron Phillips, Caruthers, and Octavio Torres, Shafter, all 8-pound lingcod; Chris Plunk, Nipomo, 7-pound lingcod; Manny Lopez, Santa Maria, 5-pound copper; Teressa Brown, Riverdale, 5-pound vermillion; Damon Espinosa, San Antonio, TX, 4-pound vermillion; Jimmy Esqueda, Fresno, and Shannon Barnes, Santa Ynez, both 4-pound red rockcod.

Long-range 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. trips are scheduled for Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for $78. Call 595-7200.

Last week’s catch: 48 lingcod, 900 red rockcod, 1,319 assorted rockfish, 745 bolina, 28 cabezon, and 2 ocean whitefish.

 Central Coast Sportfishing

For trip schedules and reservations, call 772-3474 or 704-2084.

A 150-pound thresher shark caught July 11 topped last week’s catch. The biggest lingcod were a 10.5-pounder by O.C. Vickers of Tacoma, Wash., and a 9.3-pounder taken by Frank Wood of Visalia. Other jackpot winners were: Keith Rains, Kansas, 7.32-pound red rockcod, and Shawn Dickson, Morro Bay, 5-pound copper rockfish.The catch for 96 anglers last week was: Two lingcod, 430 red rockcod, 323 assorted rockfish, 117 coppers, eight bocaccio, one rock sole and one thresher shark.

 Port San Luis Boatyard

Greg Cobb of Ocean ran away with Whopper of the Week honors with the July 5 catch of a 41.4-pound halibut. On July 9, he had a pair of 20-pound plus flatties.

Dispatched last week were 150 boats. Anglers on board caught 65 lingcod and 27 halibut. Three-quarter to full limits were posted six days and full limits Friday.

 Lopez Lake

A Shell Beach 11-year-old, Josh Massey, caught a 21⁄4-pound smallmouth bass by the dam on a spinnerbait July 5. Fresno’s Tony Pletroivngo reeled in a 61⁄4-pound largemouth July 9 at Marina Point.

 Santa Margarita Lake

Six-year-old Emily Cordero of Atascadero caught her first crappie July 11 while fishing in waters off the swimming pool. The 2-pound, 13-ounce fish chomped on a nightcrawler. Doug Ruoff of Los Osos reeled in a 5-pound, 2-ounce largemouth while fishing by the dam July 9. The bass bite is slow but catfish are moderately active. Crappie are the best bet early in the morning.

 Whale Rock

Zane Dodd used a Krocodile lure to catch a 17-inch trout July 7. It was the only fish caught by nine anglers.