When it comes to fly-fishing, Masicampo is Lopez Lake's nymph expert

Nymph fishing is reputed to be the most challenging of all fly-fishing techniques.

But, Michael Masicampo — while not a committed fly fisherman the likes of his older brother, Mark — has developed a system that enables him to use a spinning rod and reel.

“It’s a simplistic system that I use all the time, and it enables me to teach youngsters how to catch fish,” Michael Masicampo said. “In doing so, their frustration over drawing blanks is diminished and their enjoyment increased.”

This time of year, Michael Masicampo can be found fishing off the F dock at Lopez Lake two to three times a week drop-shotting nymphs, which are an immature form of aquatic insects used mainly to catch crappie, redear and bluegill. He’ll even snag a stray bass.

Mark Masicampo broke the International Game Fish Association 12-pound tippet line class record that had stood for 22 years when he reeled in a 12.96-pound largemouth at Santa Margarita Lake May 6, 2006.

The fish was caught on a 10-pound tippet but IGFA doesn’t recognize that strength. In September 2006 he received his IGFA certificate. That mark was bested by Larry Kurosaki the following February with a 14-pound, 8-ounce bass at Castaic Lake.

Mark Masicampo’s catch also was a Santa Margarita Lake record and has since been broken twice.

The first was by Soledad’s Carlos Vasquez with a 13.13-pound fish on July 30, 2008, the second by Bakersfield’s Kenny Sims when he caught a 13.47-pound largemouth on May 22, 2010 in a Bakersfield Bass Club tournament.

Michael Masicampo, 46, works as a caregiver in private practice and for Sydney Creek Alzheimer and Dementia Care and Pristine Home Service.

Patience is a virtue he leans on in his day job as well as when assisting others in deep-water nymph fishing.

“I’ve been using a Tungsten weight on the terminal end of my fishing line because it sinks faster than lead,” Michael Masicampo said. “I tie nymphs on two loop knots, one about 15 inches above the weight and the other farther up the line.

“Most of the time I use a B’n’M ultimate crappie rod. It’s ultra light and is armed with 2-pound test line. Nymphs work all year long. At this time of year when the water is cold and the fish are lethargic, you have to get the fly in front of the fish’s nose.”

When he casts and gets a fish on before the sinker hits bottom, he moves the nymphs higher up the line.

“Actually, crappie suck in the fly. It’s subtle. You need to watch the line. I’ve been using High-Viz fishing line. It’s easier to see the line twitch.”

Over the years at Lopez, Masicampo has caught bass, crappie, redear, bluegill, trout, carp, sucker fish, goldfish and golden shiners. Occasionally, Masicampo can be found doing his deep-water nymph fishing from his kayak.

“Thanksgiving morning I caught a 3-pound crappie at Lopez,” he said. “My largest bass using the deep-water nymph technique was a 6-pounder.”

Since ocean rockcod fishing is shuttered until May 1 and bass tournaments are few, I welcome some input for possible columns. The successes of newcomers in various types of fishing or suggestions about people who would make a good interview can be sent to my new email address: wshaw@ccountry.net.

———— Hangover Tournament The annual event at Lake Nacimiento will be under the direction of Damon Meeks and goes from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on New Year’s Day, attracting hardcore anglers as well as novices for a fun day on the water.

The entry fee is $50 per boat whether one or two anglers are on board. Ten dollars of the entry fee will go toward the “Big Fish” payout.The tournament has been held for at least two decades, and contrary to the name, the boats are driven by sober participants.

W.O.N. Bass Central Coast Region Competition No. 2 of the seven-event series is slated for Lake Nacimiento on Sunday. Twenty-eight teams entered the December event won by Creston’s Dale Ball and partner Steve Bereda of Santa Margarita. New tournament director Joe Gardiner can be reached at (661) 978-3380.

The standard entry fee is $150 per boat. To participate in all options the total fee is $200. Blast-off will be at first safe light, which should be around 7 a.m.

Patriot SportfishingWhale Watch and Nature Cruises are scheduled Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Departures are at 10 a.m. and return by 12:30 p.m. Fares are: Adults, $35; children 4-12, $15; and children under 3, $10. Call: 595-7200 for reservations.

On Tuesday 16 passengers witnessed a pod of south-bound whales and other marine life. Owner Steve Moore said future trips will be offered weekends and holidays.

Virg’s LandingWhale Watch trips are offered from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., weather permitting. Fares are $39 for adults and $29 for passengers 15 and under. Call: 772-1222 for reservations.

Camp RobertsParticipants in the current Holiday Hunt had a major problem on Tuesday — their vehicles were getting stuck in the mud. No doubt the problem is ongoing and probably will dog hunters throughout the hunt, which wraps up Friday.

The first two pigs of this hunt were dropped on Monday. They field dressed out at 115 and 120 pounds. Only five pigs were taken in the Aug. 28-Sept. 6 Big Game Hunt and two during the Nov. 13-14 pigs-only hunt. None were bagged during the Nov. 20-21 hunt as well as the first six days of the current hunt.

Thirty-six adults and one junior turned out Dec. 27 and 17 adults and one junior on Dec. 28. Two guests were on base Monday and one Tuesday.

The take on Monday in addition to the pigs were 17 quail, 12 dove, 12 waterfowl and 10 cottontail rabbits. On Tuesday, just five quail and seven waterfowl were bagged.

Through Friday, the base will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.