An angler who was a consistent jackpot winner a few years back when he was a saltwater fishing stalwart is morphing into a rising bass tournament talent.
He hasn’t as yet duplicated his saltwater proficiency. That will take some doing. When he was aboard a sportfishing boat out of Morro Bay or Port San Luis, he was a favorite to cop jackpot monies just about every trip.
Now he’s making his presence known in bass tournament competition with a win every once in a while and decent placings on other occasions.
That would be San Luis Obispo’s Dan Barrios, who paired with Nipomo’s Casey Langley on Saturday to win event No. 4 on the 101 Bass tournament agenda at Lake San Antonio.
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The victors were fishless until a 15-minute surge happened around 11 a.m., nearly four hours into the competition. They’d blanked in Harris Creek, but their fortunes brightened in the main lake as they caught a limit working a 60-yard stretch of water.
Langley cranked in smallmouth weighing 2 1⁄4 and 2 pounds and drop-shotted for a largemouth that tipped the scales at nearly 4 pounds.
Barrios, 53, employed one of Scott Garman’s Crunch Minnow swimbait prototypes for a 4.05-pound largemouth and added a bucketmouth in excess of 3 1⁄2 pounds on a Senko.
“We caught a lot of fish after that splurge but weren’t able to improve our bag weight,” Barrios said.
The team’s 14.97-pound bag was worth $2,725.
Garman, a Morro Bay lure innovator, expects to have his Crunch Minnow on the market by June. It’s being manufactured in China. Meanwhile, he’s working on perfecting his latest invention, a frog lure that is unlike anything currently available.
Barrios owns the world 30-pound test line class record for albacore. Fishing out of Morro Bay on Oct. 27, 2001, he caught an 81-pound albacore. The saltwater catch is listed in the International Game Fish Association 2013 edition of world fishing records.
On Saturday, a 4.20-pound smallmouth caught by Atascadero’s Gene Gray captured big fish honors.
“It was the biggest smallmouth I’ve ever caught in competition,” said Gray, who because he will be entered in two more March tournaments at Lake San Antonio, was reluctant to tell where he caught the smallie and at what depth. “Just say I made the catch around 9 o’clock on a reaction bait somewhere between shallow and deep water.”
Gray’s partner for the second straight season, Tony Pratt of Paso Robles, contributed a largemouth and smallmouth to the team’s runner-up weight of 14.19 pounds. The teammates used a balance beam in Gray’s boat before weigh-in. The smallie was a bit heavier than Pratt’s largemouth.
Gray’s smallmouth accounted for $450 of the team’s $2,100 winnings.
With only three events remaining on the seven-tournament schedule, 19-year-old Auston Bonjour of Atascadero owns a 16-point lead in the standings. Bonjour and partner Graham Grove, 21, have 404 points in the Anglers of the Year competition.
101 Bass Top 10 (All 5-fish Limits) Weight, Winnings
1. Dan Barrios, San Luis Obispo, Casey Langley, Nipomo, 14.97 pounds, $2,725; 2. Gene Gray, Atascadero, Tony Pratt, Paso Robles, 14.19 pounds, $2,100; 3. Austin Bonjour, Graham Grove, Atascadero, 12.97 pounds, $700; 4. Nick Salvucci, Templeton, 12.01 pounds, $300; 5. *Brad Shepherd, Clark Endres, Atascadero, 11.80 pounds, $225; 6. Carlos & Jacob Vasquez, Soledad, 11.80 pounds, $225; 7. Sam James, Jason Letterman, Salinas, 11.61 pounds; 8. Dean Miller, Darrel Masterson, Tulare, 11.59 pounds; 9. Steve Bereda, Santa Margarita, Nick Gregg, Atascadero, 11.17 pounds; 10. Byron Hallett, Templeton, George Stamper, Paso Robles, 11.14 pounds.
1st Big Fish, 4.20 pounds, Gray & Pratt, $450.
(*Bigger fish breaks ties)
Reservations are being taken for April salmon trips. Call 595-7200 for reservations.
The next crab and sanddab trip is scheduled for March 16 from 6 a.m. to noon. Cost is $60. The next scheduled whale watching and nature trip is March 17 from 10 a.m. to noon for $35.
Seventeen patrons aboard the Princess on Saturday returned with 375 sanddabs, 12 dungeness crabs and seven rock crabs. The next scheduled crab and sanddab trip is Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cost is $59 for adults and $39 for children 13 and under. Reservations are being taken for salmon trips starting April 6. Call 772-1222 for reservations.
Dave Rymal reports from Heritage Ranch that shore fishermen as well as boaters are catching only a few 12- and 13-inch bass. “It’s very slow,” he said.
Bass fishing is steadily improving as the water warms. Fish are being found from two to 20 feet of water. A variety of baits are working. The hot crappie bite tailed off last weekend. Trolled Rapalas CD 5’s and CD 7’s were the hot bait in The Narrrows. Shore fishermen are catching trout using nightcrawlers. Trollers scored using minnow imitations and spoons.