Fishing Report: Local tuna outlook is getting better

Encouraged by the forecast for decent tuna fishing weather starting today and bouyed by some successful trips last week, Central Coast albacore aficionados are hopeful for more action the latter part of this week. The window could close abruptly as a rainstorm is brewing.

Virg’s Landing has scheduled two tuna trips — one had a departure set for 3 a.m. today and the other is planned to leave at 10 p.m. Saturday for an all-day Sunday trip.

Cost is $150 for the Princess trip today, while $250 is the tab for the longer angling journey Saturday night and Sunday on the Black Pearl.  

Last Friday, David Fort piloted his boat, You Lie, 30 miles offshore from Morro Bay. Also aboard were fellow Paso Robles resident Larry Patague and Greg Birkholz of Arroyo Grande. They caught 13 longfins. “The tuna were almost all of the 27-pound variety,” Birkholz said.

Another vessel with a trio on board, including Hugh McCaffrey of Templeton, found tuna first and radioed Fort and his boat mates. The six anglers waged daylong efforts to harvest similar tuna numbers.   

Port San Luis Boatyard

Forty albacore were caught last week, 11 on Wednesday and 29 on Friday. The catch also included 94 lingcod, 27 halibut, 28 barracuda and 23 white seabass. Seventy-three boats were launched.

Whopper of the Week honors went to Danny Biven of Grover Beach for his 40-pound white seabass caught Friday.

Annual fish fry

The Central Coast Women for Fisheries, a nonprofit organization, will hold its third-annual fish fry in conjunction with the Morro Bay Rotary Club on Oct. 27. From noon to 6 p.m., participants may take out or eat at St. Timothy’s Catholic Church in Morro Bay. A $10 per person donation is requested. The menu includes locally caught rockcod, rice pilaf and coleslaw. Beer, wine and homemade deserts will be available. 

For the past six years ,the women’s organization has annually awarded $20,000 in scholarships to descendants of Central Coast commercial fishermen.

Virg’s Landing

On last weekend’s overnight trip aboard the Princess, Ahn Won took Saturday’s jackpot honors with a 13-pound lingcod, and James Chang was Sunday’s winner with a 17-pounder. They are both from Los Angeles.

Other jackpot winners last week were: Julie Woodin, Bakersfield, 15-0 ling; Ryan Keck, Hanford, 13-0 ling; Tom Boyer, Vancouver, 12-0 ling; Dave Castillo, Delano, 10-0 ling; John Vanderwier, Lake Tahoe, and  Tom O’Loughlin, Alaska, both 8-0 red rockcod; Mark Pafford, Bakersfield, 7-0 ling;  Don Russell, Morro Bay, 6-0 cabezon; and Raul Gutierrez, Paso Robles, 4-0 red rockcod.

Last week’s catch by 228 anglers included 99 lingcod, 1,165 red rockcod and 1,124 assorted rockfish. 

For reservations and trip schedules, call 772-1222.

Rita G fishing again

John and Sharon Rowley are skippering the Rita G for weekend-only sportfishing trips. Ten anglers were aboard for a charter trip Saturday. Jesus Reynoso of Paso Robles  had the jackpot fish, a 10-pound lingcod. The catch included 35 assorted rockfish, 65 red rockcod and seven lingcod. 

Cost is $69 for the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. trips.  Call 674-4854 for reservations. Charter trips also may be booked. Trips depart from the Embarcadero Grill Restaurant in Morro Bay.

The Rita G was piloted by Michele Leary, the Rowleys’ daughter, who passed away May 30. She  founded the Kids at Sea program and operated her sportfishing business for three years. Michele was a third generation marine skipper. Her grandmother, Rita Gartrell, was a beloved skipper out of Virg’s for many years.  

Patriot Sportfishing

Topping last week’s jackpot list was a 15.75-pound lingcod caught by Kyle Hensley of Bakersfield. Other winners were  David Bringley, Santa Maria, 10.5-pound ling; Vanessa Logsdon, Chowchilla, and Dean Witter, Santa Maria, both 8-0 ling; and Kyle Callister, Effrick, Ariz., 7-0 ling.

The catch last week by 120 patrons included 48 lingcod, 265 red rockcod, 256 assorted rockfish, 425 bolina, 13 barracuda, and six cabezon.

For reservations and trip schedules, call 595-7200.

San Antonio fishing derby

The second-annual Lake San Antonio Derby experienced increased participation.  Anglers who caught the biggest of four fish species reaped $1,700 in prize money, while catching tagged fish rewarded three other participants lodge stays valued at $1,250.

Darrin Bishop of Paso Robles caught an 11.11-pound striped bass that paid a $420 dividend.  Jerry Rouse earned $530 for the biggest largemouth bass — 3.52 pounds. Claiming smallmouth honors with a 2.73-pounder paid Brian Baugh $500. The biggest catfish, 6.08 pounds, caught by Rich Lingor, paid $250.

The tagged fish caught by Matt and Brittany Pigeon of Santa Margarita rewarded the couple a two-night lodge stay valued at $500. Geno Lazzerini was rewarded a three-night lodge stay, a $750 value, for his tagged fish catch.

Multiple gift baskets containing San Antonio gear were raffle prizes.

Best Bass TOC

Although 16 teams from the Coastal Region qualified for last weekend’s Best Bass two-day Tournament of Champions at Clear Lake, just seven teams participated. None finished in the money. Best Bass, a first-year organization, is  designed to attract fishermen who had earned less than $6,000 in competition.

Venues for Coastal events were at Nacimiento and Santa Margarita lakes and Lake San Antonio.

One hundred fifty-three teams participated and $44,390 in prize money was distributed — $20,000 went  to winners Adam Belmont and Stephen Magill from the Central Region. Their 51.66-pound, two-day bag weight gave them a 9.20-pound victory margin.

Five of the top 10 finishers were from the Mother Lode Region and two each were from the Northern and the Delta/ Wine Regions.

A Hollister team — Jason Ballew and Ken Allerton — the Coastal Anglers of the Year, was the highest finishers from the region. They were 16th with a 31.41-pound bag. 

Other Coastal teams entered and their placings were: 22. John Flynn, Scott Lamberton, Solvang; 62. Danny Conatser, King City, Dan Dostal, Grover Beach; 86. Tom Garner, Bakersfield, Kevin Vaughan, King City; 112. Jim Spillers, Johnny McNally, Bakersfield; 120. John Beckett, Bill Cook, Bakersfield; tied for 125th Mark Selbach, Ron Nagel, Bakersfield, Martin Zillig, Cambria, Erik Zillig, Paso Robles, and Brian Kennemer, Ray Huff, Bakersfield.

American Bass TOC

This weekend at Clear Lake, 26 teams from the Pacific Region and nine from the Central Coast Region have qualified for the American Bass Tournament of Champions. A number of Central Coast residents have competed numerous times on California’s largest natural lake and figure to be top contenders. 

This grouping includes Bassmaster Elite pro Jared Lintner, Arroyo Grande, and partner Nick Salvucci of Paso Robles; Ken Sauret and Jim Slusher of Paso Robles; Gene Gray of Atascadero and Jay Short of Templeton; John White of San Luis Obispo and Steve Bereda of Santa Margarita; Bobby Doss of Santa Maria, Todd Reccord of Paso Robles and Santa Maria’s Louis Fernandes and teammate Patrick Touey of Nipomo.

Whale Rock

In the not-so-distant past, anglers drew a blank weeks on end at the reservoir. But in 2011 and this year, anglers have caught fish regularly. In fact, the 13 anglers who tried their luck last week came away empty for the first time in 25 weeks (124 days). Last week’s turnout upped the total number of fisherman who have fished Whale Rock in 2012 to 600. The season’s fish count remains at 103. Anglers can fish Whale Rock Wednesdays through Sundays.

Nacimiento Lake

On Sunday, Heritage resident Dean Shupp Jr. and his two children used Pop- Rs on the surface to catch a nice bag of spotted bass. Dean Shupp Sr. trolled Shad Raps by the dam for three trout, one steelhead, one crappie and one bluegill. On Monday,  Dave Rymal, fishing  from his pontoon boat at the entrance of Dip Creek, caught 11 spotted bass, one white bass and one crappie. He trolled Shad Raps and jigged Real Image lures.

Lopez Lake

Marina Manager Aaron Boyd said Oceano’s Carl Thomas caught 20 readear Tuesday using crappie jigs by the dam. Los Angeles’ Ricky Blount, fishing from the F Dock on Saturday, caught 20 redear by the dam on crappie jigs.

Santa Margarita Lake

The marina’s Sandra Lopez notes “anglers must work hard to catch bass and there is no consistent way to bag panfish.”   

Cachuma Lake

Marina Manager Ken Hemer says the first 4,000-pound trout stocking from Calaveras Trout Farm will take place Nov. 1. Deep-running crankbaits, spoons and jigs are working for an improved largemouth bite. Most catfish being caught are two pounds or less.