Looking past Saturday's Central Coast rockcod finale

Although the rockcod fishing season ends on Saturday, there are still reasons to ply coastal waters next month and perhaps beyond. The key element is how long squid remain off the Central Coast.

When there are squid you can bet that both white seabass and barracuda are hanging around.

After Saturday’s ocean fishing rockcod will be off limits until May 1.

Halibut also are still catchable, and Grover Beach’s Mark Stuthard has a leg up on having 2011’s final “Whopper of the Week” out of the Port San Luis Boatyard.

Stuthard was fishing Tuesday in 100 feet of water by the white light.

“It was like fishing in mid summer in Southern California,” he said. “I thought I was hooked on the bottom until I felt it move.”

What he cranked up was the biggest halibut he’d ever caught, a 32½-pound flattie. That will be the target fish other anglers will have in their sights through Saturday.

Fishing on Tuesday with Bill Bonderoz, a friend from Bakersfield, and Bill’s brother Sam from Whittier, the trio hooked over 30 barracuda keeping a dozen legal barriers. Sam caught and released a 20-inch seabass — eight inches too short.

Stuthard employed the same lucky jig (a 4-ounce white) he used back in September to retrieve a 38-pound white seabass.

After enduring bone-chilling weather on Tuesday, Stuthard and Bill Bonderoz basked in 75-degree temperatures again fishing out of Port San Luis on Wednesday. This time they kept two barely legal (29-inch) seabass and released two shorts.

Stuthard has been a hit this holiday season gifting friends with seabass he has smoked.


Port San Luis Boatyard

Santa Maria’s Dan Gheno was last week’s whopper winner with the catch of a 161⁄2-pound sheephead on Dec. 23. The catch by anglers aboard 38 dispatched boats included 81 lingcod, one sheephead and 49 Dungeness crab. The sports launch will be closed New Year’s Day.

Patriot Sportfishing

Debi Wood, the marina’s official counter, is hoping that at least 112 lingcod are caught before the close of 2011 rockcod-lingcod season on Saturday. That’s the magic number that would push the Patriot’s total for the year to 3,000 lings. Through Wednesday, passengers aboard Patriot boats have harvested 2,888 lings. This is the first year catches of the toothy fish have been counted for the full 8-month season.

Ten-hour (6 a.m. to 4 p.m.) Long Range trips are scheduled for both boats on Friday and Saturday.Starting Sunday, combination crab and ocean excursion trips are scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon. The fares are $45 for adults $30 for children 12 and under. Whales, dolphins, sea lions, seagulls and pelicans are some of the sea life that are out there for viewing up close.

For reservations call 595-7200.

Last week’s jackpot winners included: Kevin Rhea, Visalia, 20-pound ling; Mark Mayo, Long Beach, 15-0 ling; Bob Gannon, Atascadero, 14-8 ling; Paul Emerick, Morro Bay, and Jake Skidmore, Buellton, both 10-0 lings, Gary Parks, Grover Beach, 8-0 ling, Ed Peterson, Arroyo Grande, 7-0 ling, and Jason Alcorn, Bakersfield, 5-0 copper rockfish.The week’s catch by 147 anglers included 80 lingcod, 446 red rockcod, 573 assorted rockfish, 188 bolina, 34 cabezon, 5 bocaccio, 128 Dungeness crab and 5 rock crab.

Virg’s Landing

A special long-range fishing trip from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. is scheduled Friday. A trip highlight will be a drawing for a $200 rod and reel. All passengers will receive a gold card to be used for the May 2012 rockcod opener.

Whale Watching trips began Dec. 26. Participants may observe the annual migration of grey whales from Alaska to Mexican breeding grounds. Humpback whales, sea otters, birds and sea lions are other sea life to be seen.

Last week’s jackpot winners include Jim Webb, Cambria, 15-0 ling; Jim Galloway, Michigan, 14-0 ling; John Nutting, Las Vegas, 13-0 ling; Lori Roberts, Ridgecrest, 9-0 ling; Matt Chudy, Los Osos, 7-0 red rockcod; and Chris Isorlia, Hollywood, 6-0 red rockcod.

The week’s catch by 113 passengers included 50 lingcod, 333 red rockcod, 624 assorted rockfish, 76 coppers, 25 bocaccio and one cabezon.

The author’s extrapolation from weekly reports put the landing’s unofficial lingcod count at 1,450 through Dec. 24.

Hangover Bass Tournament

An event that has captured the attention of dedicated bass fishermen for decades will be held once again New Year’s Day at Lake Nacimiento. The Hangover Tournament, a misnomer as entrants are far from tipsy, commences at 7 a.m. Sunday. Weigh-in will be at 3 p.m. Damon Meeks has served as tournament director since 2002. He succeeded the longtime tournament director, Don Foge, who died Oct. 9, 2001.

The entry fee is $50 per boat with a two-person maximum occupancy. All the funds derived from entry fees will be paid out to the top three teams plus the angler who catches the “big fish.”Arroyo Grande’s Jared Lintner and partner, Nick Salvucci, San Miguel, won the 2011 event with 12.99-pound limit. The duo also had the big fish. The event attracted 53 brave souls who endured a cold rain.