Meeks, Short win champions tourney

Perceived 12-pound bass played a role in the outcome of the two-day 101 Bass Tournament of Champions. Deceit, of course, is part and parcel to fishing, especially bass tournaments.

And so it was Sunday at Santa Margarita Lake.

The role players were Damon Meeks and Bobby Doss, opponents on different teams. Meeks assured his partner, Jay Short, that a 12-pound bass would be part of their Sunday take. Doss told teammate John White that John’s big fish “definitely was a 12-pounder.” And he freely conveyed that message to any opposing team within earshot. The paths of the two players never crossed Sunday.

Essentially, the TOC was two separate tournaments. Doing well at Nacimiento Lake on Saturday and at Santa Margarita Lake on Sunday was imperative. Bag weights only mattered in determining the points awarded at each lake. Weights didn’t carry over. The rule was key since the fish are small at Nacimiento Lake and much larger at Margarita. First place carried a 100-point value. The awards were in descending amount for the 27 teams entered. 

“Damon actually put my big fish in the live well so I didn’t feel the weight,” Jay Short said. A Zara Spook cast in six feet of water had delivered his second fish. “I figured it wasn’t a 12-pounder and as the day wore on, Damon eventually scaled it down to eight to 10 pounds.”

Fast forward to the boat occupied by White and Doss. 

“We were fishing in the Salinas River in six feet of water a little before 8 o’clock,” White said. “A fighter bit on my swimbait. An inordinate amount of wiggle took place with my two fingers in its mouth. But, the transfer was made.”  

For White and Doss, Sunday played out just like Saturday at Nacimiento Lake. 

“We were done by 9 o’clock,” White said. “At Margarita we only had two bites and my partner lost his fish. We found a school at Nacie. Usually, that means 70 percent are white bass and they don’t count in tournaments. There were only two whites in the school but we were done after 45 minutes.”

After Saturday, White and Doss were in fourth place with an 8.32-pound limit that paid 97 points. Meeks and Short were in third place with an 8.68-pound limit worth 98 points.

Mitch and Mike Wasley snatched the TOC lead at Nacimiento Lake with a 10.58-pound weight worth 100 points. Byron Hallett and George Stamper were second with a 9.70- pound bag for 99 points. 

Jim Slusher, owner of Jim’s Pro Bass Tackle, who envisioned the first-year 101 Bass series, had designs on winning Big Fish of the Year. His partner, Erik Zillig, had weighed a 9.09 bass March 31 at Lopez.

When White and Doss brought their one fish to the scales Sunday it read not 12, but a solid 9.70 to jump ahead of Zillig’s catch — temporarily.

Meeks and Short was the final team to weigh-in. Their big fish was a 10.23-pounder enabling them to claim Big Fish of the Year. It paid $400 for TOC big fish and $300 for the heavyweight of the year.

Wiped out was $700 for White and Doss.

Short labeled the TOC “by far my best tournament ever and my biggest bass payday —$5,050 plus a Lowrance HDS 8 fish finder, a  $1,800 value.”

Meeks and Short had a 25.44-pound limit weight at Margarita to earn 100 points, a grand total of 198 points and an 8.71-pound margin of victory over Austin and Larry Bonjour, who placed third overall.  

Cash awarded totaled  $12,000 while merchandise dispensed was valued at $5,837.

Top 10 101 Bass TOC, Day 1 Wt., Day 2 Weight, Total Weight, Points, Winnings

1. Damon Meeks, Atascadero, Jay Short, Templeton 8.68 lbs., 25.44 lbs., 34.12 lbs., 198 pts. $5,050; 2. Byron Hallett, Templeton, George Stamper, Paso Robles,  9.70 lbs., 10.27 lbs., 19.97 lbs., 194 pts., $2,430; 3. Austin & Larry Bonjour, Atascadero, 6.95 lbs., 16.73 lb., 23.68 lbs., 193 pts., $1,620; 4. John White, San Luis Obispo, Bobby Doss, Santa Maria, 8.32 lbs., 9.70 lbs., 18.02 lbs., 190 pts., $400; 5. Jared Lintner, Arroyo Grande, Nick Salvucci, San Miguel, 6.31 lbs., 15.04 lbs., 21.35 lbs., 188 pts., $700; 6. Chris & Dan Rains, Salinas, 6.29 lbs., 11.80 lbs., 18.09 lbs., 186 pts. $200; 7. Jim Slusher, Atascadero, Erik Zillig, Paso Robles, 6.37 lbs., 9.90 lbs., 16.27 lbs., 185 pts., $500; 8 Mitch & Mike Wasley,  Paso Rbles, 10.58 lbs., 3.61 lbs. 14.19 lbs., 182 pts., $800; 9. Carlos Vasquez, Jose Canchola, Soledad, 6.91 lbs., 6.53 lbs., 13.44 lbs. 182 pts., 2 Dobyns rods; 10.Roger Haas, Morro Bay, Kevin Rayner, Templeton, 6.04 lbs., 11.22 lbs., 17.26 lbs. 182 pts., Shimano Stradic reel.

Day 1 at Nacimiento Top 10, Weight

1.Wasley & Wasley, 10.58 lbs.; 2. Hallett & Stamper, 9.70 lbs.; 3. Meeks & Short, 8.68 lbs.; 4. White & Doss, 8.32 lbs.; 5. Ken & Kenna Sauret, Paso Robles, 8.04 lbs.; 6. Frank Fernandes & Brandon Reynolds, Santa Maria, 6.98 lbs.; 7. Bonjour & Bonjour, 6.95 lbs.; 8. Vasquez & Canchola, 6.91 lbs.; 9. Scott Garman, Morro Bay, Corey Woodman, Cayucos, 6.51 lbs.; 10. Slusher & Zillig, 6.37 lbs.

Day 2 at Santa Margarita Top 10, Weight

1. Meeks & Short, 25.44 lbs.; 2. Bonjour & Bonjour, 16.73 lbs.; 3. Lintner & Salvucci, 15.04 lbs.; 4. Rains & Rains, 11.80 lbs.; 5. Haas & Rayner, 11.22 lbs.; 6. Hallett & Stamper, 10.27 lbs.; 7. Slusher & Zillig, 9.90 lbs; 8. White & Doss, 9.70 lbs.; 9. Ron Raymond, Bryan Vogt, Paso Robles, 7.41lbs.; 10. Dan Barrios, San Luis Obispo, Sal Rocha, Grover Beach, 6.93 lbs.                                                               

Albacore and salmon outlook

Windy conditions forecast for the weekend probably will discourage a lot of private boaters from prospecting for albacore. In lieu of tuna, perhaps a crack at salmon fishing will do. Harold Lovett’s 2:30 p.m. Wednesday  report  from the Sports Launch was:  “Five salmon were caught Monday, 15 on Tuesday and 26 on Wednesday. Eight boats were still on the water. Salmon averaged 10 pounds. The season ends Sunday.”

Port San Luis Boatyard

Thirty halibut, the most in 2012, were brought in last week by anglers aboard 84  launched boats.

However, it was a lingcod that earned Whopper of the Week honors. The Whopper was a 14-pound, 12-ounce lingcod caught by Grover Beach’s Sonny Fricia on Sept. 27.  Eighty-seven lingcod and 11 salmon were caught. Absent were both white seabass and albacore.

Virg’s Landing

Doug Ramsey of Fresno reeled in the big fish of the week, a 15-pound lingcod. Long-range trips (6 a.m. to 4 p.m.) are planned for Friday and Sunday. For reservations and complete trip schedules, call 772-1222.

Other jackpot winners last week included: Jennifer Bohling, Tulare, 14-0 ling; Larry Tuck, Shafter, 12-0 ling; Manny Lemos, Pismo Beach, and David Munoz, Tulare, both 11-0 lings; Tom Brown, Fresno, 10-0 ling; Brian Jacovich, Los Osos, 9-0 ling; Ryan Millikin, Las Vegas, 7-0 ling; and Jerry Challigoat, Columbus, Ohio, 7-0 copper rockfish.

Last week 259 anglers caught 86 lingcod, 1,027 red rockcod and 1,148 assorted rockfish.

Patriot Sportfishing

San Luis Obispo’s Roger York, Atascadero’s Mike Silva and Ventura’s Mark Compton shared big fish honors last week with 10-pound lingcods. York won a second jackpot with a 9-pound, 5-ounce lingcod.  Other jackpot winners were Don Weeks, Arroyo Grande, 8-0 cabezon; and Thomas Smith, Corcoran, 6-0 ling.

Last week, 127 patrons caught 65 lingcod including a 30-lingcod day Friday. Also in the catch were 298 red rockcod, 307 assorted rock fish, 13 cabezo and one bocaccio.

For trip schedules and reservations, call 595-7200.

Whale Rock

Last week’s only successful fisherman was Dennis Buckley who caught a 19-inch trout on Sept. 29. Buckley has harvested five trout. This was his first catch since Aug. 4.  All of his fish have been taken on PowerBait. One hundred trout have been caught this season. The reservoir has been open 23 weeks (114 days). The 21-angler turnout brought the 2012 total to 572.  The facility is open for fishing Wednesdays through Sundays.

No St. Jude benefit event

Ben Florentino, who hosted benefit tournaments the past two years at Lopez Lake, advises that there will not be one this year. Planning is in place for a 2013 tournament benefiting St. Jude’s Childrens Hospital. 

Nacimiento Lake

Fishing from his pontoon boat near the dam Monday, Dean Shupp Sr. caught two rainbow trout and a steelhead on crankbaits. Heritage resident Dave Rymal says: “fishing mornings from 6:30 to 10 is golden. After that it’s all over as heat drives the fish down.” On Monday Martin Rowley had 45 white bass. Two other men had 80 white bass. Real Image lures and Pop Rs were working. 

Lake San Antonio

The second-annual Fishing Derby is set for Oct. 13. Twenty-five tagged fish, each a prize winner, will be targeted. One of these fish will be worth $25,000 if caught on Derby Day. Participants can register at the South Shore Cafe until noon Oct. 13. The fee is $20 per person or $60 for a family (two parents and up to three children, 12 and younger). 

Children six and under fish for free. For more information, call 472-2313.

Ranger Casey Shepherd reports some anglers are catching good-sized bass in less than a foot of water in the San Antonio River using swimbaits and spinnerbaits. Although shad are thick, the striper bite has slowed. 

“I expect that to pick up soon,” Shepherd said. Main lake bass fishermen are hooking up using topwater lures early in the day. 

Lopez Lake

The report from the marina notes “some crappie up to 11⁄2 pounds are biting artificial minnows.”

Cachuma Lake

Catfish up to eight pounds were brought to the marina last week and continue to be the most catchable species. Mackerel is the bait of choice followed by nightcrawlers. Prime locations are Johnson and Cachuma Bays plus Clark Canyon. Fish have been occupying water three to 15 feet deep in channels.