Encouraged by his absent teammate prior to Saturday’s Tri Valley bass challenge at Lopez Lake, Matt Pigeon made a valiant charge that nearly upset the tandem that already has Angler of the Year honors secured.
Pigeon doesn’t own a fancy bass boat, and he’d never previously fished a tourney alone. Department of Fish & Game rules limited him to five fish. Sixteen of the other entries competing could weigh a team limit of six fish. And five of them did.
But, the 30-year-old Santa Margarita resident came within 14-hundredths of a pound of eking out a championship.
The crown went to Nick and Tony Salvucci, who had a weight of 18.82 pounds. They lost 0.2 bonus points for a stressed out female bass that died in the live well prior to weigh-in.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Tony Salvucci’s brother Nick left early to attend Sam Sawdey’s wedding. Sawdey is normally Pigeon’s fishing partner.
The Sawdey-Pigeon duo was fresh off a May Tri Valley crown. They had fished Lopez Lake and found fish in practice. Sawdey assured Pigeon he could do well on his own.
Although he caught 20 spinnerbait fish, including a 4.86-pounder that turned out to be the event’s second-largest fish, the tourney rookie had doubts about his catch.
Tri Valley Top 10, No. Fish, *Weight
1.Nick Salvucci, San Miguel, Tony Salvucci, Atascadero, 1. 6,18.82 pounds; 2. Matt Pigeon, Santa Margarita, 5, 18.68 pounds; 3. Casey Shepherd, Kyle James, Bradley, 6, 18.25 pounds; 4. Scott Garman, Morro Bay, Dan Barrios, San Luis Obispo, 6, 15.79 pounds; 5. Tip Martin, San Luis Obispo, Bill Lukeman, Santa Maria, 4, 13.95 pounds; 6. Reggie Peinado, Nipomo, Joey Baldacchino, 6, 13.77 pounds; 7. Ron & Derek Morrison, Lompoc, 6, 13.00 pounds; 8. Chris Jeanguenat, Kole Taylor, Santa Ynez, 4, 12.35 pounds; 9. Frank Fernandes, Santa Maria, 5, 11.68 pounds; 10. Brad & Jess Samaniego, Santa Maria, 5, 11.29 pounds.
1st Big Fish, 5.51 pounds, Salvucci & Salvucci; 2nd Big Fish, 4.86 pounds, Pigeon.
*Weights include a bonus of 0.2 pounds for each live fish.
The seventh event on the eight-event Bassmaster Elite Series gets under way at Green Bay, Wis., today. This tournament site wasn’t revealed until May 24 when it was immediately placed off-limits.
Last week, Jared Lintner from Arroyo Grande placed out of the money for only the second time in five Bassmaster Elite events this year. He finished 58th on the Mississippi River, La Crosse, Wis., with a two-day, 24-pound, 14-ounce weight.
Anglers have had three days to find schools of big bass on Green Bay and the Fox River. The event will be determined over a four-day period.
Lintner is 42nd in Angler of the-Year standings with 321 points.
The big fish of last week was a 12-pound lingcod caught by Lake Elsinore angler Dana Stoller aboard the Fiesta.
Other jackpot winners included: Mark Herron, Atascadero, Robert Zaragoza, Bakersfield, Israel Sanchez, Lompoc, all 10-0 lings; Sharon Saunders, Shandon, Freddy Gleason, Morro Bay, Jose Luis, Fresno, all 9-0 lings; Charlie Rose, Los Osos, Val Delignor, Newport Beach, both 8-0 lings; and Dennis Esquirez, Fresno, 8-0 cabezon.
The catch by 301 passengers last week included 60 lingcod, 602 red rockcod, 2,004 assorted rockfish, seven cabezon, two sheephead and one Petrale sole.
Patriot’s best catch was an 11-pound lingcod by J.P. Manny of Santa Maria on Wednesday.
Other jackpot winners were: Sara Kidd, Taft, Ron Keck, Cambria and Bob Simpson, Nipomo, all 10-pound lings; Luis Casillas, Canoga Park, 10-0 cabezon; Bob Davis, Bakersfield, and David Bringley, Santa Barbara, both 9-0 lings; Danny Bergstan, Tulare, 8-0 ling; Bruce Ruiz, Tulare, 7-0 ling; Scott Geer, Las Vegas, 7-0 red rockcod; Derrick Fry, Bakersfield, 6-0 ling; and John Johnson, Fresno, 5-0 red rockcod.
The first of four two-month-long lingcod contests ends Saturday. The current leader is Caesar Chang of Rowland Heights. He caught a 17-pound, 12-ounce lingcod June 17. In second place is Joe Cinelli of Grand Island, N.Y., with the catch of a 17-pound, 4-ounce lingcod May 13. In third place with a 16-pound, 8-ounce lingcod is John Mulay of Atascadero. His catch was made May 8. The prizes are $300, $200, and $100. The next two-month contest begins Sunday and runs through Aug. 31.
The catch by 353 passengers last week included 116 lingcod, 683 red rockcod, 1,254 assorted rockfish, 32 cabezon, four kelp greenling, three bocaccio, one rock sole and 140 Dungeness crab.
Port San Luis Boatyard
For the third time since the current saltwater fishing season opened May 1, a halibut took Whopper of the Week honors. This time it was a 15-pounder caught by Dave Aguayo of Oceano on June 21 that earned the free launch award.
Jeff Minkler burst upon the fishing scene with seven trout caught over three days last week.
On Friday, he reeled in a pair of 16-inch fish, plus a 17-incher and a 12-incher. The next day he bagged 17- and 15-inch fish. He capped the week Sunday with another 17-inch fish.
Twenty-seven anglers turned out for week No. 9, and 14 fish were caught, all on worms. Joe Reynolds caught the biggest fish this year, 19 inches, on Saturday. Jeff French caught four fish last week. They measured 16 inches, 17 inches, 15 inches and 17 inches on the 24th. James Taylor retrieved a 16-inch trout June 20.
The reservoir has been open 43 days, lured 225 fishermen and 40 fish have been caught. Whale Rock is open for fishing Wednesdays through Sundays including holidays.
The Las Tablas Arm of the lake is a “hot spot,” Heritage Ranch resident Dave Rymal said. Get there early. Martin Rowley caught 50 whites, casting topwater lures. He only kept 10 of the 1-pound-plus fish.
Virgil Ewing bagged a 3-pound spotted bass Tuesday. He and Jerry Wallace combined for 40 spots that averaged 1 1⁄2 pounds. On Friday, Greg Glass used a Wacky-rigged watermelon colored presentation for 3- and 4-pound spots.
Santa Margarita Lake
A swimbait cast by Tai Martin of San Luis Obispo on Sunday caught a 10-pound 10-ounce bass.
Arroyo Grande’s Jeff Horton reeled in a 5-pound largemouth Monday while fishing near the front gate with a Senko. On Tuesday, he caught a 12-pound catfish with cut mackerel while fishing near the Encinal Camp Grounds.
Lake San Antonio
Stripers should cause shad boils soon, marina managfer Casey Shepherd said.
Slowly floating anchovy down is picking up some stripers. Birds are feasting on shad around the marina. Topwater lures are tempting smallies in the evening.
Reaction baits, topwater and jigs are effective presentations for large and smallmouth bass all over the lake, marina manager Ken Hemer said. Needlefish and Rapalas work well early for trout by the dam and Johnson Bay. Mini jigs and meal worms are working for crappie in Santa Cruz and Cachuma Bays. Bow fishing for carp is best in the evening around Arrowhead Island and the Chalk Cliffs.