For 23 years, the Cardenas of Visalia have had reason to celebrate on Oct. 9.
But, now a new reason will also fund future saltwater fishing outings for the couple out of Patriot Sportfishing.
Freddie Cardenas debated whether to trek to the coast to fish or stay home and celebrate the 23rd birthday of son Seth.
Wives have a way of prevailing as Joanne Cardenas did that day. Her husband made the trip and was joined aboard the Sea Angler out of Patriot Sportfishing by his cousin, Derek Navarrett of Atascadero.
Freddie had never caught a lingcod bigger than 11 or 12 pounds in the past four years on outings out of Patriot.
“I’ve been fishing out of the landing seven or eight times a year,” he said. “Never did I envision catching a fish the size of the one I landed last Oct. 9.”
He was flabbergasted by the fish that attacked his brown swimbait at a depth he estimated to be 80 to 90 feet at Pt. Sal.
The lingcod he brought up catapulted him into the lead in the 10th-annual Patriot Sportfishing’s Lingcod Contest. His fish weighed 27 pounds, 12 ounces and supplanted the catch of San Luis Obispo’s Dan Barrios (25 pounds, 10 ounces) as the big fish of the tournament.
Navarrett shared in the excitement, taking numerous pictures before the fish was released.
Then there was an 83-day waiting period until the Dec. 31 end of competition.
“I kept track of what was happening by monitoring Patriot’s website,” Freddie Cardenas said. “My wife and I came to the coast and fished out of Patriot on Dec. 28. We still had to wait four days.”
Added Joanne Cardenas: “I caught about a 10-pound lingcod but my husband had a bigger one.”
Freddie Cardenas said winning the September-October segment of the contest was worth a $300 certificate. That day’s jackpot paid $190 and he earned a free trip for releasing the ling.
As the overall winner, Cardenas received a $1,000 certificate, which will mean more paid Patriot saltwater trips with his wife in 2015.
The contest record of 29 pounds, 7 ounces was set in 2013 by Shane McGraw of San Luis Obispo. That fish was first hooked by his 8-year-old son, Max, who needed dad’s help.
November-December 2014 segment Lingcod Contest winners were: 1. Jarod Pack, Oceano, 20-0 pounds, $300; 2. Joe Torres, Arroyo Grande, 19-5, $200; 3. Bruce Neff, Grover Beach, 19-0, $100.
The emphasis is on the joy of fishing every Jan. 1 and 32 teams did just than in a competition at Nacimiento Lake last week.
Providing details of the event is secondary at best.
Three teams finished with the identical weight of 8 pounds, 4 ounces.
Among them were Damon Meeks, Atascadero, who, fishing with his father-in-law Lance Clairmont, Paso Robles, earned $400. Damon’s 2-pound, 8-ounce spot shared second place big-fish honors.
Jason and Cara (no last name provided) of Salinas also had an 8-4 total weight and a 2-8 big fish for $400.
Sam James of Salinas, and Jerry (no last name) also had an 8-4 weight, good for $320 and second place.
Sharing third place with 8-pounds bags were Tom White of King City and James (no last name), and Rod Kirby of San Miguel, and an unnamed partner, that paid $240.
Obviously, details were of little concern.
Season passes for 2015 rockcod fishing are on sale for $1,000.
The lingcod total for 2014 was 5,668 fish, the biggest count for the species in many years.
The first crab and sanddab trip will be Jan. 17.
The Patriot is headed for the Monterey boatyard for its annual painting and refurbishing. For winter office hours, call 595-7200.
Jackpot winners the final three days of the 2014 rockcod season that closed Dec. 31 were: Jesse Spencer, Grover Beach, 19-pound lingcod; Belinda Cabacungan, Guadalupe, 14-0 ling, Will Pierce, Fresno, 13-1 ling, and Manny Lopez, Santa Maria, 12-0 ling.
The 180 anglers caught: 161 lingcod, 239 red rockcod, 571 assorted rockfish, 458 bolina, and 49 cabezon.
Whale watching trips are being offered from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Cost is $39 for adults and $29 for children ages 15 and under. Children must weight at least 45 pounds.
For reservations, go to www.virgs.com or call 772-1222.
The final three days of the rockcod season attracted 196 anglers. They caught: 250 lingcod, 656 red rockcod, 1,125 assorted rockfish, 11 cabezon and one sheephead.
Jackpot winners were: Clayton Jacobson, Fresno, 26-0 ling, Jack White, Fresno, 17-0 ling, David Ruiz, Goleta, 14-6 ling, Chris Wood, Lompoc, 14-0 ling, Alphonso Contreras, Guadalupe, 12-0 ling, Tracy Walker, Reno, 10-2 ling, and Chuck Hutchison, Atascadero, 7-0 ling.
Morro Bay Landing
Whale watching trips are offered Saturdays and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 4:30 p.m. Cost is $40 for adults, $35 for seniors and $25 for children 12 and under.
For reservations, go to www.morrobaylanding.com or call 771-5500.
The Patriot branch out of Morro Bay had two trips the final days of the 2014 rockcod season.
The catch by 53 passengers included: 19 lingcod, 55 red rockcod, and 445 assorted rockfish. John Strawn of Paso Robles was a jackpot winner with an 8-pound ling.
Information on the other winner was packed away with 2014 season records.
Port San Luis Boatyard
The 2014 rockcod fishing season concluded with nasty weather on New Year’s Eve. Four boats were dispatched, but the weather prompted the anglers to abandon any attempts to fish. Full limits including 37 lings were caught from 22 launched boats Dec. 29.
The next day, anglers on four boats had only half limits including four lings. Boatyard employee Ryan Codorniz noted 2015 activity on the ocean is focused on halibut, white seabass and crabbing.