Once again and finally the most exhilarating brand of saltwater fishing available in these environs has returned to the Central Coast.
That would be albacore fishing. It happened Saturday and Monday and then the wind came and shut things down. The outlook for this weekend is not very promising.
Harrell Kimball of Nipomo, a source saltwater anglers have relied on for the latest sea conditions, reports: “The winds look to continue over the weekend and the swell will be coming from two directions 3 to 4 feet from the south and 4 to 6 feet from the northwest.
“Albacore is the only type of fishing I look forward to after I’ve gotten some salmon for canning.”
Personally, as author of this column since 1985, I confess, albacore fishing is the most exciting and thrilling experience of my sporting life. It’s been 10 years since my last such experience out of Patriot Sportfishing and at age 85, that in all probability was my final tuna trip.
If you are a person who seeks excitement and memorable experiences and you haven’t tried albacore fishing, it’s something you don’t want to miss. This year local tuna fishing aficionados have had to haul their boats to Monterey to engage their passion. Until a few days ago there had not been any evidence of tuna swimming in waters off our coast.
Virg’s Landing and perhaps Patriot Sportfishing will be offering tuna trips soon, or maybe you can luck out hitching a ride on the private boat of a friend. Having your rod turned into a croquet hoop and hearing the ZZZZZ sound of your reel created by a hooked tuna and then cranking up a prize from 100 feet or more is something you will remember forever.
Often, albacore or longfins as they are known because of their long pectoral fin, have made an appearance locally by this time of year.San Luis Obispo’s Bob Hather was bound for The Donut on Sunday but didn’t have to go that far. His boat is berthed in Morro Bay. After motoring to Port San Luis to pick up scoops of 4- to 5-inch anchovies, he and his fishing party only had to travel 29 miles from PSL to end their search.
“We found birds diving on bait fish and albacore jumping,” Hather said. “The water was green and the water temp wasn’t ideal. We caught eight fish from the boils that lasted for 30 minutes. Our smallest fish went 18 pounds and the biggest was 25.”
Hather’s fishing party included Dr. Steve Goodman of San Luis Obispo, attorney Jeffrey Stulberg of Cayucos and Bob’s boat partner, John Roffoni of Shell Beach.
Four hours after the boiling stopped, the quartet caught a jig fish to finish their take at nine fish.
Arroyo Grande’s Greg Birkholz hit the albacore jackpot on two fronts last weekend. Aboard Woody Woodruff’s 24-foot boat along with Will Bateman on Friday, the trio found a wide open bite 35 to 40 miles out of Monterey. Birkholz and the duo from Templeton experienced a consistent bite from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm.
“We caught 33 fish,” Birkholz said. “Twenty were in the 15 to 20-pound range and we had some 25 and 30-pounders.”
Back in his home territory Sunday, he fished aboard David Fort’s boat from Paso Robles. Jerry Thompson of Arroyo Grande was in the party that ventured 40 miles out of Morro Bay.
“We never found blue water and the water temp was never over 59 1/2 degrees. The 10 fish we caught were in the 25 to 30-pound range,” Birkholz said. “Coming in the wind made it a rough, three-hour trip.”
At New York’s Oneida Lake last week, Jared Lintner had his best Bassmaster Elite finish of the season. He placed 13th, missing the second cut by 15 ounces. He finished with a three-day total of 41 pounds, seven ounces for 15 fish.
The Arroyo Grande seventh-year pro earned $50,000 by placing among the top 49 five times in eight events.
Lintner finished in 33rd place in the Angler of the Year standings with 450 points. The top 31 Elite anglers qualified for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic to be contested Feb. 22-24 at Oklahoma’s Grand Lake near Tulsa.
Through double qualification of some Elite anglers, both Lintner and 32nd-ranked Mike McClelland could possibly qualify for the Classic.
Port San Luis Boatyard
Ninety-nine boats were dispatched last week and full rockcod limits were registered five days and three-quarters to full limits two days. The best salmon fishing take in four months was recorded last week. Forty-eight were caught with 17 of them caught Saturday. Also in the harvest were 102 lingcod, six white seabass, five albacore and three halibut. There may have been bigger fish but the only one weighed was a 10-pound lingcod Sunday by Grover Beach’s John Lopez. It was the Whopper of the Week.
A 58-lingcod catch by 29 anglers aboard the Princess on Friday highlighted Virg’s activity. A 16-pound ling caught by Heath Johnson of Bakersfield took jackpot honors that day on the Princess.
Other jackpot winners included: Samuel Rodriguez, Fresno, Jeff Flowers, Porterville, and Eddie Barrienter, Hanford, all 14-0 lings; Johnny Pryer, Paso Robles, Ray Mayo, Los Osos, Jim Debacker, San Luis Obispo, and Kendra Ross, Bakersfield, 12-0 lings; Carl Lind, Madera, and Blake Hon, Eagleville, both 11-0 lings; and Alicia Myers, Cayucos, 5-0 red rockcod.
For trip schedules and reservations, call 772-1222.
Last week 289 passengers caught 143 lingcod, 1,141 red rockcod and 1,427 assorted rockfish.
Atascadero’s William Umphenour had last week’s big fish, a 13-pound lingcod. Other jackpot winners included: Drew Layous, San Luis Obispo, John Mulay, Atascadero, and Ryan Snider, Fresno, all 10-0 lings; David Bringley, Santa Maria, 9-0 ling; Matt Aguilar, Arroyo Grande, and Garrett Pierce, Bakersfield, both 8-0 lings; and Greg Woolworth, Grover Beach, 6 3-4-pound ling.
Last week’s 207 passengers caught 74 lings, 361 red rockcod, 788 asorted rockfish, 291 bolina and one kelp greenling.
For trip schedules and reservations, call 595-7200.
For the first time since May, only two trout were landed last week at the reservoir. It was the fourth time this season that just two trout were caught. Jace Zavala was one of the two successful anglers last week. He caught a 19-inch trout on grubs Saturday. The same day, a newcomer to the list of successful fishermen caught a 12-inch trout on a worm. The angler only gave his last name.
The reservoir has been open for 88 days this season and 93 trout have been caught.
Dave Rymal, reporting from Heritage Ranch, says that he and Mel Moore fished four hours beginning at 7 a.m. Monday and caught 90 white bass.
“We caught half of them on the surface in boils and the other half down 50 feet,” Rymal said. “We were using Pop-Rs and Zara Spooks and jigging Real Image jigs.”
Lopez, Santa Margarita lakes and Lake San Antonio
Bass fishing was on a day-to-day basis last week, but even on the slower days some limits were taken via reaction baits as well as bottom bumping techniques.
Shad were seen on or near the surface at the East end of the lake where topwater baits were working early. Catfish continued to taper off but a few larger fish were caught in Sweetwater Bay on cut mackerel. Crappie action was decent with fish up to two pounds. Small tubes and mini jigs tipped with meal worms produced the most action. Trout fishing almost ground to a halt. Only a few fish came from the dam area by drifting nightcrawlers.