Fishing Report: Limited bites don’t stop bass duo

“We definitely had to do something different after spending the first four hours of last week’s tournament without a bite.”

That was the report from Santa Maria’s Luis Fernandes about the situation he faced midway through the American Bass Pacific Region event at Santa Margarita Lake.

“There’s an abundance of shad in the water. Bass must be in hog heaven,” said the 33-year-old who won the competition despite he and partner Patrick Touey of Nipomo only having five bites all day.

An expensive piece of equipment made the difference.

“The lake’s water temperature had dropped from 68 degrees to 58 and throwing swimbaits definitely wasn’t working,” Fernandes said. “A while back I invested in a Lowrance StructureScan system. It sure came in handy in this event. We could see tiny depressions in structure both under the boat and on either side.

“About 11:30, we hit it big. On back-to-back casts, I caught a 7-pounder and a 6-pounder on jigs. Patrick contributed a 5-pounder and we finished with only five bites. But, my big fish turned out to be the big fish of the tournament (7.55 pounds).”

Their payday amounted to $3,165. That didn’t cover scanning equipment, which ranges from $4,000 to $6,000. But, it will be tested in future venues this season, including the new Outdoor Heritage series, which will be televised. It’s designed for top-notch western anglers.

Only five limits were recorded by the 22 tandems entered. Four outfits were blanked. Gene Gray of Atascadero and partner Jay Short from Templeton placed second with an 18.43-pound bag that paid $1,240.

You know things were tough when Bassmaster Elite pro Jared Lintner and teammate Nick Salvucci managed only three fish in placing sixth with a 9.56-pound weight.

On Saturday, 101 Bass begins its second season, also at Santa Margarita.

American Bass, Pacific Coast, Top 10, No. Fish, Weight, Winnings

1. Louis Fernandes, Santa Maria, Patrick Touey, Nipomo, 5. 21.90 pounds, $3,165; 2. Gene Gray, Atascadero, Jay Short, Templeton, 5, 18.43 pounds, $1,240; 3. Jason Letterman, Scott Mullins, Salinas, 5, 13.78 pounds, $540; 4. Darrin Bishop, Paso Robles, Dean Miller, Tulare, 5, 13.67 pounds, $200; 5. Graham Grove, Austin Bonjour, Atascadero, 5, 13.21 pounds; 6. Jared Lintner, Arroyo Grande, Nick Salvucci, San Miguel, 3, 9.56 pounds, $180; 7. Eric Zillig, Paso Robles, Damon Meeks, Atascadero, 4, 9.41 pounds, $294; 8. Jerry Waldrip, Richard Neal, Bakersfield, 4, 9.00pounds; 9. Joe Arias, Derrick Palomo, 2, 7.08 pounds; 10. Chris Purgason, Ken Whalen, Lompoc, 2, 6.45pounds, $126.

1st Big Fish, 7.55 pounds, Fernandes & Touey, $315; 2nd Big Fish, 4.68 pounds, Zillig & Meeks, $189; 3rd Big Fish, 4.55pounds, Purgason & Whalen, $126.            

Albacore outlook

It’s anybody’s guess what took place Wednesday out of Morro Bay. There were at least five boats in pursuit of the longfins. These skippers have a reputation of staying out for late bites. The boats were out of radio range and none had returned to port prior to column deadline. There was little wind on the tuna grounds Wednesday, but there’s a good chance that will not be the condition this weekend.

Whale Rock

Today is the final day of fishing the reservoir this season. Week No. 30 is a two-day week — Wednesday and today. The facility was open six days, through the observance of Veterans Day on Monday. Whale Rock has been open for fishing 145 days. 

The 21 anglers who tried their luck last week brought the total number of participants to 661. Ten trout were caught, upping the year’s total to 117 trout. 

Two newcomers joined the list of successful fishermen. Bob Kelley caught 20- and 24-inch fish Nov. 7. His bait was PowerBait. His two trout were the longest caught in 2012. Steve Tower was the other newcomer. He caught a 16-inch trout Nov. 7 and a 12-inch and 16-inch fish Nov. 11. All three were caught using worms for bait. The other successful anglers last week were Joe Cooper with a 16-inch fish on PowerBait on Nov. 7, and Fred Holder with three 15-inch fish and a 17-inch Nov. 8. All bit on worms. Twenty-eight different anglers have caught fish this season.

Virg’s Landing

An albacore trip was scheduled to leave Wednesday night with fishing today. Another trip is planned for a Saturday night departure to fish Sunday. 

For reservations and trip schedules, call 772-1222.

The next overnight trip is scheduled to depart Nov. 24 and return Nov. 25. Passengers may bring home two limits of fish. Cost is $230. Ladies Day trips are planned from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays. Cost is $49 for women and $59 for men.

Jackpots were part of only three trips. Winners were Bruce Ely, West Los Angeles, 24-pound albacore, Adam Westburk, Pixley, 8-0 ling, and Jim Webb, Cambria, 7-0 ling.

Last week 109 passengers caught 26 albacore, 55 lingcod, 276 red rockcod, 441 assorted rockfish, two cabezon and one greenling.

Port San Luis Boatyard

No boats were dispatched Monday or Tuesday last week. Thirty private boats were launched.

Whopper of the Week honors went to Roscoe Richard of Grover Beach with a 12-pound, 3-ounce lingcod. Thirty-nine lingcod and four halibut were in the catch. Half rockcod limits were registered three days and three-quarter limits once.

Rita G

Visalia’s Jeff Churley took jackpot honors with a 12-pound lingcod on the only sportfishing trip aboard the Rita G last week. Thirteen anglers caught 13 lingcod, 70 red rockcod and 60 assorted rockfish. 

For reservations and trip schedules, call 674-4854.

Patriot Sportfishing

Combination rockcod and crab trips resumed Wednesday. The 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. trips will be offered Wednesdays and Fridays. Cost is $74. After the crew pulls crab pots holding dungeness crabs, the collection is distributed to adult paying passengers. Then the focus turns to rockcod and lingcod in particular. 

The fourth and final phase of Patriot’s eight-annual Lingcod Contest began Nov. 1 and continues through Dec. 16.

For reservations and trip schedules, call 595-7200.

Last week’s jackpot winners were: Arnold Luisi, Arroyo Grande, Alicia Poser, Bakersfield, and Jess Spencer, Grover Beach, all with 10-0 lings; Daniel Lawry, Arroyo Grande, 8-0 ling; Juan Avelino, Santa Maria, 7-0 ling and Sloan Benson, Pismo Beach, 5-0 ling.

Last week 113 passengers caught 39 lingcod, 312 red rockcod, 410 assorted rockfish, 240 bolina, nine cabezon, and four bocaccio.

Santa Margarita Lake

Shore fishermen are catching catfish up to 12 and 13 pounds, lake rangers report. Sardines and mackerel are the successful baits. The top two teams in Saturday’s American Bass Pacific Region tournament caught limits weighing 21.90 pounds and 18.43 pounds. Complete results are detailed at the top of the column. 

Lopez Lake

Morro Bay’s Jeremy Harkins reeled in a 15-pound catfish on a nightcrawler bait  Tuesday. He was fishing by the Ranger’s boat dock. A 6-pound bass was caught in tournament competition Saturday.

Cachuma Lake

Only fair results have come from the major Nov. 1 trout plant by Calaveras Trout Farm. Marina manager Ken Hemer says results should improve steadily as the lake cools. Anglers fishing PowerBait and inflated crawlers around Loop Trail and E Point had the most consistent catches. Those trolling for trout found things difficult. There was limited action at the mouth of Harvey’s and Cachuma Bays. Bass limits were possible last week but it required hard work usings jigs, Texas rigs, deep crankbaits and spinnerbaits.