The residual effect of a fall 13 years ago has not only led Damon Meeks to becoming an accomplished bass fisherman but eventually led to his livelihood as well.
Meeks, 35, fell from a telephone pole while installing fiber optic cable. He was out of work for more than a year as he was recuperating from a broken back.
Between physical therapy sessions he drove the nine miles from his dad Ken’s home to Santa Margarita Lake, where he honed his fishing skills during mornings and afternoons on flat- lake waters.
He was tutored in crane operation when he returned to work building Pioneer Valley High in Santa Maria. Seven years ago he purchased Superior Crane from the retiring owner.
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“There’s a correlation between operating a crane and fishing,” Meeks said. “At work, I’m handling a 92-foot pole with a hook on the end. When fishing, the equipment is just smaller.”
Meeks completed his second straight season as Angler of the Year in the Bass Ambushers Club.
He accrued 825 points by winning two tournaments, placing second and fifth twice each, plus a third and a fourth. He’s fished Ambusher events on and off for 16 years. Next season he plans to assist Jim Slusher in establishing a new tournament series. The 101 Bass series begins in December.
Ambushers Angler-of-the-Year Standings1. Damon Meeks, Atascadero, 825 pts.; 2. Austin Bonjour, Atascadero, 793; 3. Neal Franklin, Atascadero, 787; 4. Jesse Wilson, Atascadero, 775; Jacob Lewis, 770; 6. Marc Hazuka, Atascadero, 766; 7. Al Rush, Paso Robles, 765; 8. Burt Lund, Atascadero, 760; 9. Greg Hanley, Paso Robles, 753; 10. Ken Meeks, Atascadero, 752.
Ambushers at Nacimiento Lake
Earlier this month, Atascadero’s Graham Grove capped the Bass Ambushers’ season by winning his second event, a two-day at Nacimiento Lake.
His 3.89-pound largemouth was the first-day big fish for total winnings of $450.
Jeremy Lewis had a 3.59-pound catch for second-day big fish worth $135. Nineteen of the 27 teams entered had double limits.
Two-day Nacimiento Results All 10-fish limits 1. Graham Grove, 22.62 pounds, $315; 2. Austin Bonjour, 20.58, $111; 3. Damon Meeks, 20.40, $152; 4. Marc Hazuka, 19.83, $52; 5, Erik Zillig, Cambria, 19.44; 6. Jim Keeney, Paso Robles, 17.57; 7. Burt Lund, 17.20; 8. Jeremy Lewis, Atascadero, 17.15; 9. Hyon An, Paso Robles, 17.02; 10. Mike Mills, Atascadero, 16.58.
Harrell Kimball’s fishreports.net post early Wednesday morning said: “The models indicate good tuna weather Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.” Later he added: “Forecast models are subject to change without notice.”
Los Osos skipper Jim Lewis had one of the most prodigious reports Tuesday evening. He and his crew, fishing 40 miles out from Morro Bay, caught 10 tuna weighing between 35 and 40 pounds.
Angler’s Choice TOC
Day two in the U.S. Angler’s Choice Tournament of Champions did not go as well for four Central Coast teams.
Arroyo Grande’s Jared Lintner and partner Nick Salvucci of San Miguel had a day-one limit of 25.35 pounds and were in second place, more than two pounds off the lead at Clear Lake.
San Luis Obispo’s John White and partner Bobby Doss of Santa Maria were in eighth place.
Lintner and Salvucci weighed a 16.51-pound Sunday limit. A 41.86-pound total placed them 16th for $500 winnings.
White and Doss put a 14.75-pound limit with their opening 23.65-pound bag. They dropped out of the money in 30th-place with a 38.40-pound total.
An albacore trip is scheduled to depart Saturday with fishing Sunday. Call 772-1222 for reservations and trip schedules.
Jackpot winners last week were: Clay Chisum, Cambria, 12-0 lingcod; Rich Zellers, Lompoc, 9-0 ling; John Moore, Bakersfield, John VanDam, Tipton, both 8-0 lings; Taylor Mills, Paso Robles, John Carter, Lompoc, Grayson Davis, Bakersfield, all 8-0 lings; Jim Hauser, Bakersfield, 7-0 red rockcod, and Dick Jones, Los Angeles, 6-0 ling.
Sixteen albacore to 35 pounds were caught by the 27 passengers aboard the Pacific Queen which returned Oct. 16 from a day and a half trip.
Upcoming day-and-a-half albacore trips are slated to depart at 8 p.m. Friday, Sunday and Tuesday provided there are at least 10 reservations. Cost is $300 plus a $30 fuel surcharge. Call 595-7200 for reservations and trip schedules.
Last week’s jackpot winners were: Ron Garcia, Half Moon Bay, 14-0; halibut; Craig Gong, Selma, 12-0 ling; Ray Williams, Santa Maria, Isaiah Castor, Bakersfield, both 10-0 lings; Richard Windham, Lake Isabella, 7-8 ling; Dennis Lieph, Downey, 7-0 cabezon; Shane Haslo, Wasco, 7-0 vermillion; Aaron Strong, Bakersfield, 6-0 ling; Robert Ochoa, Lompoc, 5-0 ling; and Jim Tourville, Fountain Valley, 4-0 bocaccio.
Port San Luis Boatyard
Although 48 lingcod, two white seabass and three albacore were caught, none were weighed so there was no Whopper of the Week. Fifty-nine boats were launched. Rockcod limits were posted four days.
Four-year-old Spencer Hanley fishing with his grandfather Greg Hanley, a Heritage Ranch resident, caught a 1-pound, 4-ounce spotted bass drop-shotting. Greg Hanley connected on spots drop-shotting lake points.
Santa Margarita Lake
Don Lopez reports 2 to 21⁄2-pound crappie are being caught in The Narrows and bass are being taken on jigs, swimbaits and plastic frogs.
Jonathan Garcia says Santa Maria’s Brandon Woo, 9, caught a pair of 2-pound bass on spinnerbaits in Marina Cove on Sunday, and Canadian Jeff Kiesendah reeled in a 31⁄4-pound redear in the Wittenberg Arm.
Ken Hemer notes: “Bass fishing has improved using spinnerbaits, plastic worms rigged Texas style or by drop-shotting. Catfish hot spots are in Santa Cruz and Sweetwater Bays and Drakes Cove using mackerel for bait.” From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, a free program designed to trigger Halloween spirit will be presented on the Nature Center lawn. Close-up encounters with bats, owls, scorpions, spiders and snakes will entertain youngsters and parents.
Joe Reynolds added 10-, 12- and 13-inch trout giving him a total of 31 fish for 2011. His Saturday catches were on worms and lures. Gary Collier says he caught a 15-inch trout on a secret bait Friday.
His season’s total is 29 fish. Fifteen anglers tried their luck last week.