Arroyo Grande’s A.J. Jennings made the best of one of those hard days to come by for a single father, namely, a coveted day on the ocean with two buddies.
He reeled in his personal heftiest white seabass last Thursday, and in the process laid claim to Whopper of the Week honors. The fete carries with it a free boat launch the next time out.
Jennings supplanted Santa Maria’s Pat Star, who owned the lead for the weekly big fish honor for less than 24 hours. On July 9, Star had landed a 44-pound white seabass.
I caught up with Jennings, a 44-year-old general contractor, for a phone interview Tuesday. Precious few aspects of the catch were revealed during our conversation.
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Quizzed as to the location of his catch, Jennings joked, “Tell readers I caught it from the pier.” Being evasive is common practice, especially for seabass fishermen.
Jennings and his buddies were fishing from A.J.’s 20-foot Wellcraft boat.
Jennings did confirm that he was fishing shallow and his catch was made using squid for bait. It’s the bait of choice for anglers targeting the species.
Jennings said his 45-pound, 3-ounce seabass “put up a good 10-minute fight before my buddies gaffed it.”
The catch was by far Jennings’ biggest.
“My previous seabass catches were barely a legal 28 inches long,” he said.
This week’s Whopper of the Week is the second-heaviest seabass caught so far this year by anglers who begin their quest by launching from the Port San Luis Sport Launch.
Orcutt’s Steve Reisbeck landed the biggest seabass of the season, 50 pounds, 3 ounces, on June 6.
Paso Robles angler Micah White was the 10th qualifier for the year-end John Rowley Lingcod Championship tournament. He had a 17-pound lingcod, the biggest last week.
Steve Shoffstall of Lake Isabella was a double jackpot winner aboard the Princess on last week’s two-day trip. He won with 15-pound and 14-pound, 5-ounce lingcod.
Twenty anglers brought back 80 lingcod, 360 red rockcod and 80 assorted rockfish.
The next two-day trip departs at 9 a.m. July 28 and returns at 6 p.m. July 29.
Cost is $235. Go to www.virgs.com or call 772-1222 for reservations.
Shallow water trips are scheduled Thursdays from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Fishing is in water 40 to 100 feet deep. Cost is $69.
Additional jackpot winners included: Sid Gallego, San Diego, 12-6 ling, Chris Johnson, Chino Hills, 12-0 ling, Jim Webb, Cambria, 11-14 ling, Brad Brumano, Paso Robles, 11-5 ling, Trey Bristo, Paso Robles, 10-5 ling, Armando Salazar, Lemoore, 9-0 ling, Kirk Hopkins, Pismo Beach, 7-7 ling and Tim Papas, Mission Vallejo, a 7-6 ling. Caught by 320 rockcod passengers last week were: 112 lingcod, 535 red rockcod, and 2,326 assorted rockfish.
Port San Luis Boatyard
The second-best white seabass and the fourth-best lingcod take of the season were logged last week. Sixty-six seabass were caught from July 7-13. The best seabass count of 2014 was registered from June 9-15 when 95 were landed.
Eighty-seven lingcod was the count from 152 launched boats. The best lingcod harvest this year was 157 between June 30 and July 6.
Grover Beach angler Andre Gorshkov had last week’s biggest lingcod — 16 pounds.
Other jackpot winners were: Dewayne Tassey, Sallisaw, Okla., Jim Layugan, Atascadero, Mason Varner, Claremont, and Ken Nakagawa, Lodi, all 12-0 lings, Daniel Webb, Bakersfield, 9-0 cabezon, Ann Burlington, Woodbridge, 8-0 ling, Jason Robertson, Nipomo, 7-0 ling, Aaron Quarles, Nipomo, Randy Olson, Pismo Beach, Pat Gagnon, Burbank, and David Corton Bakersfield, all 6-0 lings, and Steve Hart, Santa Margarita, 4-0 copper rockfish.
Last week’s catch by 419 anglers was 142 lingcod, 352 red rockcod, 20 cabezon, four bocaccio, two rock sole, one kelp greenling and 2,244 assorted rockfish.
There is space available on half-day trips from 7 a.m. to noon both Saturday and Sunday. Cost is $52. There are openings on Sunday’s long-range trip from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. That fare is $82.
For reservations and more information, go to www.patriotsportfishing.com or call 595-7200.
Morro Bay Landing
First-time angler Rosa Marks from Santa Maria began her new adventure by capturing jackpot honors with a significant catch — a 19-pound lingcod. It was the week’s biggest fish. She did it when there were 34 other anglers on board the San Pedro Special on Sunday. Also winning jackpots were: Charlie Trueblood, Bakersfield, 15-0 ling, Preston Golusky,
Riverside, 14-0 ling, Hallie Fernandez, Yuba City, 10-0 ling, Chris Goldsmith, Lompoc and Jim Chaney, Fresno, both 9-0 lings.
The catch by 153 anglers last week was 35 lingcod, 103 red rockcod, two cabezon and 818 assorted rockfish.
Friday’s and Sunday’s 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. trips are $59. Kids 12 and younger have a $40 fare on Friday. On Sunday’s, one child fishes free with a paid adult fare.
Humpback whales are still cavorting off Morro Bay, and the San Pedro Special will transport passengers to shows from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday. Cost is $40 for adults and $25 for children 12 and younger.
For reservations, go to www. morrobaylanding.com. or call 771-5500.
A newcomer, Alyssa Lynn Moore, joined in the fun last week. On Saturday, she caught 17- and 18-inch trout using salmon eggs for bait. Jeremy Harkins added one 18-inch fish to his total Friday. The trout caught with a nightcrawler was his 32nd of the year. An anonymous fisherman reeled in a 16-inch fish Friday with PowerBait.
Brandon Krips caught two fish Saturday. The 16- and 18-inch fish were attracted by PowerBait. Krips has caught nine trout thus far.
Week No. 12 brought out 27 anglers, bringing the season’s total to 331. Ninety-nine fish have been caught. The leading baits are PowerBait, 52 fish, and nightcrawlers, 30.
“Bass fishing picked up last week. Drop-shotting worked early in the day and plastics later on,” marina manager Ken Hemer said.
“Catfish are continuing to provide ample angling opportunities. Soaking cut mackerel or dough balls in the backs of most coves and cuts has been very productive.”