Fishing Report: Strong start to Best Bass season

What a start to the 2014 Best Bass tournament campaign, Coastal Region venue!

There was a tremendous turnout of 45 teams. And all but three of them brought five-fish limits to the scales. The nine-team payoff was another unusual happening, plus big fish honors were paid to five places.

It was an unusual day in January — too cold in the morning but pleasantly fishable the rest of the day.

Undoubtedly, the topper was a victory by an Atascadero duo who underestimated the weight of their catch.

Said champion Jeremy Gearhart: “We were pleased with our catch, but the scale we had in the boat only read seven plus pounds. We thought it was sufficient to place in the money, but we were more than a little surprised when the tournament director announced our bag weight (8.35 pounds).”

It was the second win for Gearhart and his partner, fellow Atascadero resident 

Jason Martin. Once again, Martin caught the event’s’ big fish, just as he did in their other Best Bass win in April when he weighed a 12.28-pound fish at Santa Margarita. Incidentally, that catch was the heaviest of the 2013 season, which embraced five regions and 30 tournaments.

Gearhart said his team caught just nine fish using Shaky Heads and drop-

shotting along rocky walls. Their total winnings were $2,100 with $396 of that total stemming from Martin’s 3.16-pound big fish.

Paso Robles’ Erik Zillig and his father, Martin, were the next highest entry from the Central Coast. By fishing swimbaits, crankbaits, Senkos and drop-shotting, they had a 7.94 limit good for third place and $770 in winnings, including $131 for the third biggest fish, 2.25 pounds.

Best Bass Coastal Region

Top 10, all 5-fish limits, Weight, Winnings

1. Jeremy Gearhart, Jason Martin, Atascadero, 8.35 pounds, $2,100; 2. Dylan Waldrop, Will Duncan, Hollister, 8.27 pounds, $1,144; 3. Erik Zillig, Paso Robles, Martin Zillig, Galt, 7.94 pounds, $770; 4. Scott Mullins, Salinas, Tim Mullins, Templeton, 7.71 pounds, $504; 5. Matt Messina, Eddie Davidson, Atascadero, 7.39 pounds, $504; 6. Mark Snow, Bakersfield, Harlin Gibson, Maricopa, 7.35 pounds, $170; 7. Grant Byers, Benji Hiler, Bakersfield, 7.24 pounds, $146; 8. Mike Foreman, Mike McDaniels, Bakersfield, 7.14 pounds, $139; 9. Danny Conatser, King City, Dan Dostal, Grover Beach, 7.03 pounds, $126; 10. Joshua Steinhauer, Exeter, Tray Williams, Arroyo Grande, 7.02 pounds.

1st Big Fish, 3.96 pounds, Gearhart & Martin, $396; 2nd Big Fish, 2.66 pounds, Waldrop & Duncan, $220; 3rd Big Fish, 2.25 pounds, Zillig & Zillig, $131; 4th Big Fish, 2.23 pounds,  Brian Beckham & Ty McCutcheon, Bakersfield, $89; 5th Big Fish,  2.19 pounds, Mullins & Mullins, $44.

Best Bass Open tournament

Nacimiento Lake will host an open tournament Saturday. All comers are welcome. The all-in entry fee is $200 per team. The event will launch at safe light with a 3 p.m. weigh-in. For more information, contact Chris Gilkison at (661) 703-7929.

Patriot Sportfishing

Only one crab and sanddab trip was offered last week. On Saturday, the wind limited fishing to one drift. Twenty-four passengers caught one sanddab and four croakers. Pulled crab pots yielded 86 dungeness crabs and two rock crabs.

The next crab and sanddab trips are scheduled for Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to

1 p.m. both days. Cost is $60.

A combination whale watching and nature trip will be offered Sunday from 9 to 11 a.m. Cost is $35 for adults and $25 for children12 and under.

For reservations, call 595-7200 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or go to www.patriotsportfishing.com.

Virg’s Landing

Whale watching trips are offered Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to noon. Cost is $39 for adults; $29 for children 12 and under.

For reservations, call 772-1222 or go online to www.virgs.com. 

Annual enchilada sale

Orders are being taken for the albacore enchilada fundraiser linked annually to the staging of the Super Bowl. Morro Bay’s Central Coast Women for Fisheries is the sponsoring organization.                                       

The cost per tray of four enchiladas is $10. Options are  corn tortillas with green sauce or flour tortillas with red sauce.

The albacore was caught during the 2013 season.

To order, call Jackie at 772-8281 or Sharon at 674-4854.

Enchiladas may be picked up between 1 and 5 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1 at the Morro Bay Community Center. The Super Bowl is Feb. 2.

The organization is a nonprofit, supporting sustainable seafood, local fishermen, marine education, healthy marine environment, local scholarships, the Fishermen’s Family Statue project and more.