Picking up hitch hikers was a pleasing and profitable element of the experience for two of the three money winners in Patriot Sportfishing’s sixth-annual Lingcod Contest, which ended Nov. 15.
While picking up hitch hikers is a frowned-upon action along our highways, it is a joyful event for saltwater fishermen. Lingcod, a voracious predator, have a propensity to sink their chops into a helpless hooked smaller fish. It seems they never pass up an easy meal.
All three of the money winners owned the lead at one time in the four-month-long competition. Each man employed a different bait to catch their money winner.
Lompoc’s David Glass, the eventual champion, was only in his third season of saltwater fishing.
“I formerly focused on freshwater fishing for trout,” Glass said. “Since I’ve sampled ocean fishing I prefer it to the freshwater variety. Besides, I’ve spent a lot of money on rods and other equipment.”
Glass used a Berkley Gulp grub to catch the hitch hiking 24-pound, 6-ounce first-place lingcod.
“It’s the biggest one I’ve caught,” Glass said. “Actually, it was skinny. It didn’t have a full belly. It took me three attempts before I connected. I brought it up from 100 feet of water very slowly.”
The $3,000 prize will come in handy, Glass said. He and his wife moved into a new house Sunday.
Runner-up Joe Torres of Arroyo Grande has competed in all six Patriot lingcod contests, finishing first and third in past competitions.
Torres has lived in Arroyo Grande for 14 years and said he has been fishing out of Central Coast landings since 1976. This season, he said he averaged fishing out of Patriot twice a week.
His lucky day was Oct. 14.
That’s when he, too, brought up a hitch hiker. His 20-pound, 12-ounce lingcod was caught while fishing aboard the Pacific Horizon at Pt. Purisima. Torres was using one of his own homemade 3-ounce jigs. It had a blue head and a white body.
“I sell them,” he said, “if anyone is interested.” His 2008 winning lingcod weighed 22 pounds, 1 ounce.
Torres plans to spend part of his $2,000 winnings by treating four Patriot employees — Pacific Horizon skipper Sal Rocha, deckhand Nate Moore, office manager Debi Wood and Patriot deckhand Jay Gavin — to dinner. Torres held the competition lead for 17 days until supplanted by Glass on Oct. 31.
Lindsay resident Bryan Shishido says he usually doesn’t begin ocean fishing until July.
“I compete in Angler’s Choice bass tournaments in the valley (San Joaquin) earlier in the year,” Shishido said.
He noted that he still owns the California State spotted bass record. He caught the 10-pound, 4-ounce spot at Pine Flat Lake on May 3, 2001.
Five days after his 63rd birthday, Shishido caught the 19-pound, 2-ounce lingcod that eventually was the third-largest ling caught in the Patriot contest. The Oct. 8 catch made with a swimbait offering was worth $1,000. He held first place for seven days until Torres claimed the lead. Shishido’s angling history also includes striper fishing in San Francisco Bay and trips to Alaska. Usually he fishes out of Patriot six or seven times a year. More than 20 years ago, he fished out of San Simeon when George Valenzuela operated that landing.
An overnight trip aboard the Pacific Queen to San Miguel Island is scheduled to depart at 10 p.m. Friday. Rockcod fishing season is still open below Point Conception. Cost is $135. Call 595-7200 and leave your name and phone number for a return call. The boat is to return by 8 p.m. Saturday.
Skipper John Rowley is planning squid fishing trips Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For more information and reservations, call 772-1222 and leave your phone number for a return call. The landing will have vessels participating in the traditional Morro Bay Lighted Boat Parade on Dec. 4. Tickets will be on sale in the tackle store, which will be open this weekend. The parade begins at 6:30 p.m.
Thirty-four trout were caught during the season, which closed Nov. 14. Eight fish were caught the last two weeks of the season, four each week. The base was open for fishing 150 days. Two-hundred ninety-six anglers tried their luck. Whale Rock will be closed until late April 2011.