It’s a good thing the actual tournament was dramatically different from practice.
Prior to Saturday’s season-opening ABA Pacific Coast Region bass tournament at Lopez Lake, neither Gene Gray nor partner Jay Short had any success in practice.
“We went to the lake separately for three weekends and nothing was working,” Gray groaned in our phone interview.
“We feel very fortunate to win the tournament. Crankbaits and swimbaits fished both deep and shallow worked for us. We had a limit three hours into the competition, but it wasn’t until about 1 o’clock that we caught the difference-maker. It was a 4.98-pound largemouth. We caught it on a crankbait.”
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The Gray-Short team had not tasted victory in a tournament that counted since winning back-to-back competitions in 2011 at Lopez and San Antonio.
San Luis Obispo’s Mark Hinson had the big fish, 9.14 pounds, but he failed to catch a limit. He placed second 3.38 pounds behind the winners.
ABA Number of Top 10, Number of Fish, Weight, Winnings
1. Gene Gray, Atascadero, Jay Short, Templeton, 5, 21.67 pounds, $3,187; 2. Mark Hinson, San Luis Obispo, 4, 18.29 pounds, $1,609; 3. Louis Fernandes, Santa Maria, Patrick Touey, Nipomo, 5, 14.51 pounds, $541; 4. Jerry Waldrip, Richard Neal, Bakersfield, 5, 12.72 pounds, $225; 5. Jared Lintner, Arroyo Grande, Nick Salvucci, Atascadero, 5, 12.03 pounds, $200; 6. Aaron Quarles, Nipomo, Steven Goodman, San Luis Obispo, 5, 12.00 pounds, $138; 7. Mike Maddux, Matt Quaresma, 5, 11.57 pounds; 8. Bobby Doss, Santa Maria, Todd Reccord, Paso Robles, 5, 10.96 pounds; 9. Patrick Motley, Mark Del Papa, Arroyo Grande, 4, 10.54 pounds; 10. Darrin Bishop, Paso Robles, Dean Miller, Tulare, 5, 10.51 pounds.
1st Big Fish, 9.14 pounds, Hinson; 2nd Big Fish, 4.98 pounds, Gray & Short; 3rd Big Fish, 4.20 pounds, Quarles & Goodman.
Arroyo Grande’s Greg Birkholz celebrated Veterans Day accomplishing something he had not done in 30 years. Fishing several miles out of Morro Bay with Gary Moore of Los Osos, he caught a 20-pound sheephead. He was fishing in 70 feet of water and used live squid for bait. According to the book Field Guide To Pacific Coast Fishes, sheephead are “uncommon north of Pt. Conception.”
“I caught one some 30 years ago fishing out of Los Angeles,” Birkholz said.
Combination rockcod and crab trips (6 a.m. to 2 p.m.) are being offered Wednesdays and Fridays for $74.
The first such trip of the new season Friday saw 42 dungeness and two rock crab in the catch. The crew pulls a string of 10 crab pots to begin these ventures, and the catch is distributed to adult patrons on board. Only nine anglers were aboard Friday. The fish harvest included six lingcods, 25 red rockcod and 65 assorted rockfish. Arroyo Grande’s Maurice Tenborg won the jackpot with a 10-pound lingcod.
For trip schedules and reservations call 595-7200 or go to www.patriotsportfishing.com.
Other jackpot winners were: Louis McCombs, Taft, 19-0 ling, Jeff Stubbs, Lemoore, 11-0 cabezon, Jack Storm, Atascadero, Dave Kears, Visalia, and Bernardo Salcedo, Bakersfield, all 10-0 lings, Kaden Healy, Belmont, 8-0 ling, Donny James, Porterville, 4-0 vermillion, and Nelson Herring, Long Beach, 4-0 red rockcod.
Featured trips are shallow-water, light-tackle trips Thursdays, and 10-hour (6 a.m. to 4 p.m.) trips Fridays and Sundays. Jackpot winners on Fridays receive a voucher for a free trip for two. Reservations are being taken for the two-day trips Dec. 7-8 and Dec. 28- 29. Cost is $235. The Nov. 24-25 two-day trip is completely booked.
For reservations and more information call 772-1222 or go to www.virgs.com.
Last week’s jackpot winners included: Andrew Veide, Kingsburg, Luke Coffee, Porterville and Jose Quintana, Avenal, all 12-0 lingcod, Raleigh Pacheco, Fresno, 7-0 red rockcod and Gary Higgins Coarsegold, 5-0 lingcod.
Morro Bay Landing
Scheduled this week are shallow-water fishing trips Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7 to 3 for $69 fares. Call 771-5500 or go to www.morrobaylanding.com for more information and reservations.
On two trips last week, 51 anglers caught 31 lingcod, 31 red rockcod, 446 assorted rockfish and two cabezon. The only jackpot winner reported was Ray Shoemaker of Santa Maria with a 20-pound lingcod.
Port San Luis Boatyard
This year, anglers aboard private boats embarking out of the Sports Launch have caught 100 or more lingcod 15 times. The 123 lings counted last week when 89 boats were dispatched ranks as the 11th-best week of the year. Rockcod limits were registered six days last week. The exception was Nov. 4 when three-quarter limits were posted. The catch also included three halibut. No fish were weighed, so there was no Whopper of the Week.
Jeremy Harkins caught five trout on PowerBait on Nov. 8 to bring his catch total for the season to 39 fish. Seven of his total catch were caught on worms, the rest with PowerBait. Heading into the final two days of the trout fishing season, he holds a six-fish advantage on his nearest competitor, Jeff Minkler. The season ends at the conclusion of fishing Friday.
Danny Brebs caught the only other trout harvested last week, a 14-inch fish Saturday. His trout total for the season is nine fish, all on PowerBait.
Twenty-two anglers turned out last week. During the 145-day season spread over 29 weeks, there have been 922 participants.
The first 4,000-pound plant of triploid (sterile) trout last week from the Calaveras Trout Farm is the reason for limit-style trout fishing. Trout to six pounds were taken on PowerBait and all types of lures. The fish have spread out, enabling trollers paying out two colors of leadcore line to catch limits of rainbows all over the lake. Catfish are still biting in the backs of coves on mackerel, shrimp and dough baits. Bass fishing remains tough.
Santa Margarita Lake
“The people who are coming to the lake are catching fish,” marina manager Don Lopez said. “For the second week in a row Tom Thumb (Santa Margarita) reeled in catfish. Fishing in front of the store on Sunday, he caught four channel catfish. This morning (Wednesday) using binoculars, I’ve watched two bass fisherman across the lake catch four fish.”
James Childress of Los Angeles, fishing at Cottonwood Point, caught a 15 1⁄8-pound catfish Nov. 6 using mackerel as bait. Reported the marina’s Bernadette La Barr :“Bass up to six pounds are being landed at Strawberry Flat and at the end of the Lopez Arm.”
Heritage Ranch reporter Dave Rymal reports: “Martin Rowley drop-shotted for five spotted bass, and Gil and Helen Johnson drop-shotted mini flukes for limits of 13 and 14-inch spots. The action was in the Las Tablas area on Veterans Day.”