Saturday’s cold weather wasn’t a deterrent to catching fish in a pair of bass tournaments contested at different Central Coast venues.
Longtime partners prevailed at Nacimiento Lake, while longtime friends, but first-time tournament mates, succeeded at Lopez Lake.
First up is the tale woven by Paso Robles mates in a Best Bass Open tournament starring Jim Keeney, 70, and Tom Ryan, 56. They’ve been tourney partners since 1999.
A largemouth Keeney caught on a drop-shot an hour before the tournament’s end was decisive.
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“The way it was shaking its head told me it was a big one,” Keeney said. “Tom netted it on his second try.”
The fish weighed 4.22 pounds. It not only anchored their 9.53-pound limit, but turned out to be the big fish of the competition by nearly two pounds.
“We caught most of our fish in the afternoon,” Keeney said, “all but the big one on jigs. We culled five times.”
Twenty-six of the 27 teams entered had five-fish limits. Atascadero’s Austin Bonjour and Graham Grove, the third-place team, had the second big fish, 2.34 pounds.
Best Bass Open
Top 10, all 5-fish limits, Weight, Winnings
1. Jim Keeney, Tom Ryan, Paso Robles, 9.53 pounds, $1,640; 2. Mike Clausen, Troy Tidwell, 8.27 pounds, $915; 3. Austin Bonjour, Graham Grove, Atascadero, 7.85 pounds, $655; 4. Dan Barrios, San Luis Obispo, Aaron Quarles, Nipomo, 7.74 pounds, $485; 5. Mark Snow, Bakersfield, Harlin Gibson, Maricopa,7.62 pounds. $235; 6. Clayton Eslicci, Jared Haygood, 7.24 pounds, 7. Louis Fernandes, Santa Maria, Mark Weiting, San Luis Obispo, 7.20 pounds; 8.Tom White, Mike Garza, 6.97 pounds; 9. Clayton Rogerson, Brandon Enox, 6.94 pounds; 10. Mike Mc Crossen, Greg Enns, Bakersfield, 6.93 pounds
1st Big Fish, 4.22 pounds, Keeney & Ryan; 2nd Big Fish, 2.34 pounds, Bonjour & Grove; 3rd Big Fish, 2.22 pounds, Jason Letterman & Scott Mullins, Salinas.
Tri Valley opener
In the season-opening Tri Valley competition at Lopez Jeff Hodges, 35, paired up with a friend from his teenage years, Mike Maddux. They grew up with a number of buddies fishing from the shores of Lopez.
Usually Hodges fishes Tri Valley events with fellow Tackle Warehouse
employee Bud Aquino, but he was not available.
Practice paid victorious dividends for Hodges and Maddux.
“We won the tournament at an area I found in practice the previous weekend,” Hodges said. “Our big fish (7.72 pounds) was caught by Mike on his third cast of the morning. He also landed a fish we estimated to be a 5-pounder. We knew that neither fish would be culled so we didn’t weigh them.
“Swimbaits, jigs and drop-shots caught all our fish. We had a blast doing it.”
They won the tourney by 2.56 pounds over Lompoc’s Meade Hedricks and Tom Vienola.
Fifteen of the 94 fish caught were smallmouths. The top 10 finishers had six-fish team limits.
The Salvucci brothers, Nick and Tony of Atascadero, placed third and had the second biggest fish, 6.67 pounds.
Top 10, all 6-fish team limits, Weight
1. Jeff Hodges, Grover Beach, Mike Maddux, Arroyo Grande, 25.23 pounds; 2. Meade Hedricks, Tom Vienola, Lompoc, 22.77 pounds; 3. Nick & Tony Salvucci, Atascadero, 20.09 pounds; 4. Greg & Mike Higgins, Santa Maria, 18.36 pounds; 5. Joey Reggio, Brian Nawrocki, San Luis Obispo, 17.79 pounds; 6. Mark Scribner, August Kinney, Pismo Beach, 17.74 pounds; 7. Patrick Touey, Nipomo, Jason Martin, Atascadero, 17.12 pounds; 8. Johnny Johnson, Santa Maria, Rob Marquez, Orcutt, 16.77 pounds; 9. Ken Whalen, Dana Chatterly, Lompoc, 16.22 pounds; 10. Joe Gardiner, Dale Litwiler, San Luis Obispo, 15.39 pounds.
1st Big Fish, 7.72 pounds, Hodges & Maddux’ 2nd Big Fish, 6.67 pounds, Salvucci & Salvucci.
Wrapping up Patriot’s Lingcod Challenge
The final two weeks of the ninth-annual Patriot Sportfishing’s Lingcod Contest proved to be a fortuitous period in the fourth two-month segment of the event.
That’s when the trio of prize winners, including the overall winner, caught their fish.
Grover Beach’s Kellen McBrien claimed third place in the November-December session with a 20-pound, 9-ounce ling caught Dec. 31. Her catch paid $100.
Lompoc’s Raymond Ochoa earned runner-up status with a 25-pound, 3-ounce lingcod he caught on a Dec. 22nd trip. It was worth a $200 check.
As reported earlier this month, the overall winner was San Luis Obispo’s Shane McGraw with a big assist from his 8-year-old son, Max. The youngster hooked the fish but was unable to crank it up from the depths. Dad finished the job.
The fish he brought to gaff (29 pounds, 7 ounces) turned out to be the heaviest fish ever caught in the history of the event. He earned $1,000 as the grand champion plus another $300 as the November-December winner.
The heaviest ling bagged during the month of November was a 20-pound, 7-ounce fish by Keith Bow of Pismo Beach on Nov. 12.
Arroyo Grande’s Casey Lintner held the lead for 62 days with a 28-pound, 5-ounce lingcod caught Oct. 27.
Combination sanddab and crab trips are scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Adult fares are $60 while tickets for children 12 and under are $50.
For reservations and more information, go to www.patriotsportfishing.com or call 595-7200.
Whale watching trips are planned on Sundays.
A combination halibut and sanddab trip is scheduled for Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $59.
For reservations and more information, call 772-1222 or go to www.virgs.com.
Whale watching is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday. Cost is $39 for adults, $29 for children 12 and under.
Orders are still being taken for the albacore enchilada fundraiser by Morro Bay’s Central Coast Women for Fisheries, a nonprofit organization.
Cost per tray of four enchiladas is $10. Options are corn tortillas with green sauce or flour tortillas with red sauce.
To order, call Jackie at 772-8281 or Sharon at 674-4854.
Orders may be picked up between 1 and 5 p.m. on Feb. 1 at the Morro Bay Community Center.
Santa Margarita Lake
The main launch ramp is still operational, Tom Kohl reported from the marina. He and Steve Clark fished the other day when Clark caught and released their only catch, a 21⁄2-pound bass. Catfish are being caught by the flats in the river. Bass fishermen say it’s difficult to catch more than one fish.
“Trout fishing was good last week,” marina manager Ken Hemer said. “Almost all boaters caught quality fish trolling the north shore using Rapalas, Kastmasters, and Yo-Zuri minnows. Other good areas included the rock walls between Cachuma and Santa Cruz Bays. Shore fishermen connected at E Point and the area to the right of the launch ramp. Inflated nightcrawlers and PowerBait were their ticket. The bass bite showed signs of life with swimbaits and jigs.”