Fishing Report: Experience not needed in new bass tournament series

A new bass tournament series beckoning less experienced anglers makes its debut Saturday at Nacimiento Lake.

The Coastal Region is one of five California venues in which competitors will vie for regional honors on nearby lakes, as well as take aim at berths in an October Tournament of Champions where the winners will earn a guaranteed $20,000 in cash.

Every effort has been made to assure a level playing field for participants.

Teams having individually or collectively won more than $6,000 and/or finished in the top 10 in points races in a pro-am event as a pro during the calendar year are ineligible.

Each Best Bass Tourney event will be divided into two horsepower divisions. Small boat will be engines with horsepower ratings between 25 and 115 hp. Vessels having engines from 115 to 250 hp will be designated in the large boat category. All boats must be a minimum of 12 feet in length.

Tournament entry fees are $90. Teams may participate in all options for a total cost of $180. An individual BBT membership is $40 and a family membership $60.

Coastal tournament director Terry Greenwaldt anticipates an entry of 35 boats. Fifteen teams have pre registered for the Nacimiento event.

“Teams from Hanford, King City, Bakersfield and Palmdale have shown interest in competing this Saturday,” he said. “We want tournaments to be fun, family-oriented and entertaining as well.”

Boat owners must maintain state-required minimum liability coverage for themselves and their passengers.

Boats will be inspected at the Nacimiento Lake gate for Quagga and Zebra mussels. The tournament is scheduled to commence at first safe light with a 3 p.m. weigh-in.

Tri-Valley tournament

Nick Salvucci helped his older brother, Tony, celebrate his 33rd birthday a day early with a Tri Valley tournament win Saturday at Lopez Lake. The brothers haven’t often fished together since their days at Atascadero High. Tony’s passion is saltwater fishing.

The team caught an estimated 30 fish with jigs and swim baits in 10 to 40 feet of water for a 20.07-pound six-fish team limit. They won over runners-up Felix and Ken Camacho (19.07).

Sam Sawdey of Paso Robles took big-fish honors with a 6.31-pound largemouth that bit on a swim bait. Sawdey and partner Matt Pigeon finished third in the 29-angler field with an 18.96-pound limit. Only six limits were caught. Of the 106 bass caught, 14 were smallmouths. All fish were released alive.

The remainder of the Coastal Region schedule: March 3 at Lake San Antonio; March 31 at Santa Margarita Lake; April 28 at Lake San Antonio; May 19 at Santa Margarita Lake; and June 9 at Nacimiento Lake.

Tri Valley Top 10 (all 6-fish team limits) Weight

1. Nick Salvucci, San Miguel, Tony Salvucci, Atascadero, 22.07 pounds; 2. Felix Camacho, Nipomo, Ken Camacho, Santa Maria, 19.07 pounds; 3. Sam Sawdey, Paso Robles, Matt Pigeon, Santa Margarita, 18.96 pounds; 4. Jeff Hodges, Bud Aquino, Arroyo Grande, 18.33 pounds; 5. Mark Scribner, Paso Beach, Graham Grove, Atascadero, 16.84 pounds; 6. Rich Zeilenga, Brad Lum, Oceano, 16.66 pounds; 7. Dan Barrios, San Luis Obispo, Scott Garman, Morro Bay, 16.11 pounds; 8. Steve & Justin Goodman, San Luis Obispo, 13.68 pounds; 9. Jeff Rose, Oceano, Craig Rose, Bakersfield, 113.84 pounds; 10. Casey Shepherd, Kyle James, 13.28 pounds.

1st Big Fish, 6.31 pounds, Sawdey & Pigeon; 2nd Big Fish, 5.23 pounds, Rose & Rose.

SLO Bass Ambushers

Santa Margarita’s Bryan Vogt, who has been tournament bass fishing for only six years, recorded his first win at Nacimiento Lake in the first event on the SLO Bass Ambushers’ agenda. The next day he and his wife, Sarah, celebrated the fourth birthday of daughter, Aislyn.

An hour before weigh-in, Vogt reeled in his biggest spotted bass (3.19 pounds), while drop shotting in two feet of creek water. It was the event’s big fish and anchored his 9.86-pound limit. Windy conditions taxed the inexperienced new boat owner who fished alone.

1. Bryan Vogt, Santa Margarita, 9.86 pounds, $285; 2. Austin Bonjour, Atascadero, 9.10 pounds, $171; 3. Aaron Davidson, Atascadero, 8.59 pounds, $119; 4. Marc Hazuka, Atascadero, 8.22 pounds; 5. Damon Meeks, Atascadero, 7.88 pounds; 6. Al Rush, Paso Robles, 7.73 pounds; 7. Jim Keeney, Paso Robles, 7.26 pounds; 8. Erik Zillig, Cambria, 7.00 pounds; 9. Burt Lund, Atascadero, 6.89 pounds; 10. Jacob Lewis, Atacadero, 6.48 pounds.

1st Big Fish, 3.19 pounds, Vogt, $125.

Angler’s choice

The Griers, son Bryan of Hollister, and his dad, Steven of Salinas, were second time winners in the Angler’s Choice Central Coast event at Lake San Antonio. Their 14.93-pound limit bested a field of three teams. No more than seven teams have entered any of the three events thus far.

Angler’s Choice Top 3 (all 5-fish limits) Weight, Winnings

1. Bryan Grier, Hollister, Steven Grier, Salinas 14.93 pounds, $410; 2. Doug Slaton, Hollister, John Tamagini, Seaside, 12.20 pounds; 3. Mead Hedricks, Steve Morris, Lompoc, 10.29 pounds.

1st Big Fish, 3.54 pounds, Grier & Grier.

Lintner begins PAA series

Arroyo Grande pro Jared Lintner is teaming up with fellow Bassmaster Elite pro Mike McClelland of Bella Vista, Ark., in the four-event Professional Anglers Association series. Competition begins today on Lake Toho, Kissimmee, Fla.

National Guard college fishing

Cal Poly’s All-American duo of Scott Hellesen and Damian Bean has graduated. But they will represent Cal Poly for the second time in the national tourney in April.

The four-tourney 2012 series begins Saturday at Lake Shasta. Mustang entrants are the teams of John Zeolla and Kyle Greenlaw, and Russ Gruener and Patrick Monson. Only Zeolla and Gruener have competed a few times previously in the college series. Forty-two teams from 22 schools are entered.

Virg’s Landing

Whale watching trips are scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Cost is $39 for adults, $20 for children 15 and under. Weekday trips need groups of at least 10. Call 772-1222 for reservations.

Patriot Sportfishing

Crab and sanddab trips will be offered from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The Patriot crew will haul up the crab pots for dungeness crab. All passengers with a fishing license can take a share of the crab take. Then they’ll fish for sanddabs. Cost is $60 for adults, $45 for children 12 and under. Call 595-7200 for reservations.

Weekend whale watching and nature cruises will be offered from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Cost is $35 for adults, $15 for children 4 to 12; children 3 and under are free.

Port San Luis Boatyard

Marina manager Marty Codorniz said launches are only available 90 minutes on either side of at least a four-foot high tide. The winter-only problem of sand deposits in the launch basin is back. Dredging is not slated to begin until March.

Santa Margarita Lake

The marina’s Sandra Lopez invites anglers to come to the lake and stop by “so we can have a fishing report.”

Cachuma Lake

Bass made a good showing last week. Anglers had to work for limits by drop shotting, using jigs or spinnerbaits in 20 to 25 feet of water.

Trolling Needlefish or Kastmasters from the surface to 15 feet down in Santa Cruz and Cachuma bays made for a fair trout fishing experience.