Erik Zillig has been sizzling in bass competition at Nacimiento Lake since April 11.
His partners have changed in Best Bass, Ambushers and 101 Bass events. But the route he’s taken and the pattern adhered to has remained the same.
“We’ve been in six tournaments on this lake in the last five weeks,” Zillig said. “Each time we had limits by noon, then culled those fish for heavier sack weights.” When weigh-in time came, Zillig and his partners have logged three wins, one second-, a third- and an eighth-place finish.
On Saturday, in one of the top tournament series contested on Central Coast waters, Zillig and Jim Slusher won the 101 Bass tournament. It was their third title in the four-year-old history of the series. Topwater offerings and Super Spooks produced the 8.62-pound win.
Zillig caught the tourney’s big fish — a 2.5-pound spotted bass on a swimbait.
Slusher, the architect of the 101 series and owner of Jim’s Pro Bass Tackle store, said: “All 15 teams entered had limits, and I believe all were spots.”
Veteran teams like the Bishops — Dean and Del — and Gene Gray and Graham Grove rank 1-2 in the Anglers of the Year standings, respectively. That will be determined in the May 30 finale at Nacimiento Lake.
There is room for youth in the 101 series also. Templeton’s Chase Austin, 24, and Jared Mackey, 32, placed second last week. Austin, who is in his second tournament season, said: “We had to wade through quite a few white bass en route to our 8.28-pound weight that counted.” (White bass do not count.)
Mackey, a tourney rookie, added: “We caught 10 whites for every spot.”
Austin’s response: “My new partner is learning quickly about tournament fishing.”
101 Bass Top 10 (All 5-Fish Limits)
1. Jim Slusher, Atascadero, Erik Zillig, Paso Robles, 8.62 pounds, 2. Chase Austin, Templeton, Jared Mackey, Paso Robles, 8.28 pounds, 3. John White, San Luis Obispo, Bobby Doss, Paso Robles, 7.99 pounds; 4. Darrin Bishop, Paso Robles, Del Bishop, Templeton, 7.82 pounds; 5. Gene Gray, Graham Grove, Atascadero, 7.81 pounds; 6. Damon Meeks, Atascadero, Jay Short, Templeton, 7.65 pounds; 7. Byron Hallett, Templeton, George Stamper, Paso Robles, 7.58 pounds; 8. Marc Hazuka, Chase Castaneda, Atascadero, 7.17 pounds; 9. Roger Haas, Morro Bay, Ken Sauret, Paso Robles, 7.13 pounds; 10. Steve Bereda, Santa Margarita, Jose Canchola, Soledad, 6.93 pounds.
1st Big Fish, 2.5 pounds, Slusher & Zillig.
Lintner in the money
Catching limits of fish three days in a row at Lake Havasu last week, Arroyo Grande’s Jared Lintner finished in the money for the second time this Bassmaster Elite Tournament season.
Midway through the 2015 campaign, his 10th, Lintner has earned 167 points and ranks 62nd in the Elite Angler of the Year standings.
He has an uphill journey to qualify for his sixth Bassmaster Classic. There is a hiatus until his next tournament, June 3-7 on Kentucky Lake, Paris, Tenn.
Lintner had 13-pound, 14-ounce, 16-pound, 4-ounce and 15-pound, 12-ounce five-fish limits for a total weight of 45 pounds, 2 ounces for 16th place in the field of 112.
He missed the second cut — top 12 finishers after the third day — by only 13 ounces. His finish paid $10,000 for the second time this season.
State fish record out of Virg’s Landing
A fish caught aboard the Rita G skippered by John Rowley on Oct. 12 has been recognized as a new state record.
Final verification from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife was received recently.
Greg Veach from Visalia caught a 7.28-pound olive rockfish, which eclipsed the previous mark by 11⁄2 pounds.
The fish was caught with a whole squid for bait on a trap rig. The catch was made in the Domes area above Point Estero. It was weighed on a certified scale.
Ted Knapp of Bakersfield qualified for the end-of-the-year John Rowley lingcod tourney with the catch of an 11-pound, 6-ounce ling last week.
Virg’s made 11 trips last week. The catch by 259 anglers included 103 lingcod, 668 red rockcod, 1,090 assorted rockfish, nine cabezon, one kelp greenling and one salmon.
The only other jackpot winner listed in the report was Elmer Solis of Bakersfield, who caught an 8-pound, 8-ounce cabezon.
Cambria’s Ron Keck had the biggest jackpot fish last week, a 12-pound, 5-ounce lingcod.
Other jackpot winners included Brant Robison, Bakersfield, 10-0 ling, Danny Garcia, Mendota, 8-5 ling, Mick Hogan, Visalia, 8-3 ling, Nick Arnold, Los Osos, 8-0 ling, Kiah Featherstone, San Luis Obispo, and Eric Bric, Lone Pine, both 7-0 lings. The catch by 299 anglers last week included 142 lingcod, 323 red rockcod, 247 coppers, 593 assorted rockfish, 22 bolina, 102 dungeness crab and three rock crab.
Mackerel have moved in
The mackerel have moved in closer to shore and are being caught from the South T Pier in Morro Bay. Anglers are using six-hook Sabiki Rigs, available for purchase at Morro Bay Landing.
Port San Luis Boatyard
Full rockcod limits were registered only Monday and Tuesday last week. Three-quarter limits were logged Friday through Sunday. No boats were dispatched Tuesday or Wednesday because of rough ocean conditions.
The catch included 44 lingcod and 15 salmon. No fish were weighed, so no Whopper of the Week.
Whale Rock Reservoir
Only one trout has been caught in the first three weeks of the trout season.
Jeremy Harkins retrieved a 16-inch rainbow with PowerBait on May 9.
A year ago he was the dominate angler, catching 41 trout, 27 on PowerBait and 14 on worms. The turnout last week was seven anglers, bringing the season’s total to 60.
Whale Rock is open for fishing Wednesdays through Sundays and legal holidays.
Supervising ranger Bob Yetter reports: “The lake received a 2,400-pound trout plant several weeks ago. The plant was from Fish and Wildlife. The trout average one pound apiece. Trollers are paying out four colors of braided line to catch the trout.”
Santa Margarita Lake
Marina manager Ken Hemer reports: “Several blue catfish were checked in at the marina. The largest weighed 14-pounds, 5 ounce. Cut mackerel and packaged dough baits are working. Bass are responding to reaction baits early, jigs and drop-shotting.”