Outdoors

Central Coast Fishing: Sports Launch in Avila Beach to host halibut derby

Bakersfield resident Jose Cortez (right) shows off his haul from a full-day Virg’s Landing charter on Saturday, along with skipper Sergio Bermudez, caught above San Simeon. Cortez hooked a 5-pound lingcod, which was then swallowed by a 20.8-pound ling. Also on Cortez’s rig was a 5-pound red rockcod.
Bakersfield resident Jose Cortez (right) shows off his haul from a full-day Virg’s Landing charter on Saturday, along with skipper Sergio Bermudez, caught above San Simeon. Cortez hooked a 5-pound lingcod, which was then swallowed by a 20.8-pound ling. Also on Cortez’s rig was a 5-pound red rockcod. Courtesy of Virg’s Landing

It’s Port San Luis Halibut Tournament time on the Central Coast this weekend with title contenders embarking out of the Sports Launch in Avila Beach on Saturday and Sunday.

A year ago, it was a last minute entry, David Aguayo of Oceano, who waltzed off as the overall winner with a 31-2 halibut.

He’ll forever be gratefull to Del Kyle who convinced him to enter.

Derby officials expect Aguayo will be back to defend his title.

Jerry Sato, son of the original owner of what is now Patriot Sportfishing, Skip Sato, entered along with Barbara Carter of Santa Maria. They are professional anglers, but this is a different style of fishing --- rod and reel.

The co-owners of the Sports Launch business, Brent Lintner and Del Kyle, breathed new life into the event that had been dormant for five years after a 16-year run.

The marina will open at 4 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

All occupants of tournament boats must be registered derby participants. The entry fee is $100 per person and includes a ticket to the post tournament barbecue by Jimmy Lewis. It will follow the Sunday afternoon weigh-in.

Tammy Schuyler, who once again is playing a key role in directing the event, anticipates the barbecue will be in progress by 3:30 p.m.

She was part of the leadership of derbies past along with Kyle. Currently she lives in Grants Pass, Oregon, where she moved to care for her grandparents.

Some of the place winners in prior derbies are expected to participate, along with Nipomo resident Patrick Starr, who recently hoisted 46- and 31-pound halibut aboard his cousin’s boat.

Contestants must return to the marina by 4 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

It is mandatory that all participants check in at derby headquarters both mornings prior to fishing.

Atascadero resident excels at Nacimiento tournament

Atascadero’s Damon Meeks had what he termed “one of my best tournaments ever at Lake Nacimiento.”

That’s quite a statement by a bass fisherman who has had a spectacular history in tournament fishing.

“Using topwater baits before dark I caught 40 or 50 fish quickly,” he said. “I only culled once after dark. Then I got into a school of two and three pounders, and I was able to cull two fish.”

Meeks, who caught 30 fish before dark and 20 after, brought a 12.47-pound limit to the scales in winning the Ambusher contest last Saturday night.

Runner-up Burt Lund of Atascadero captured “big fish” honors with the catch of the “biggest spotted bass I’ve ever landed in 20 or 30 years of fishing Nacimiento.”

It weighed 4.07 pounds.

And for the second month in a row, he placed second.

SLO County Bass Ambushers top 10 (number of fish, weight, Winnings) — 1. Damon Meeks, Atascadero, 5, 12.47 pounds, $257; 2. Burt Lund, Atascadero, 5, 9.96, $156; 3. Erik Zillig, Paso Robles, 5, 9.93, $103; 4. Jesse Wilson, Atascadero, 5, 9.60; 5. Mike Garza, Salinas, 5, 8.94; 6. Tom White, King City, 5, 8.36; 7. Jeff McAdams, Hollister, 5, 8.01; 8. Ron Christian, Santa Maria, 4, 6.37; 9. Jerry May, Paso Robles, 3, 5.44; 10. Jim Keeney, Paso Robles, 4, 4.99.

First Big Fish: 4.07-pound spotted bass, Bert Lund, $95.

Port San Luis Boatyard

It was a bit too early for the derby, but Nipomo angler Patrick Starr earned Whopper of the Week honors with the catch of a 46-pound halibut on July 16. Actually, Starr caught two flatties. His secomd one weighed in at 31 pounds. Five halibut were caught last week.

Just 10 halibut have been counted so far this year.

Twice halibut catches have earned “Whopper” honors: For the week of May 9-15, a 21-pounder by Andrew Davis, and a 12-pounder by Dennis Hyde of Bakersfield the week of June 6-12.

Recreational sport fishing activity hit a 2016 high with the launching of 213 boats last week.

Best lingcod haul of the year (169 caught) was the week of May 30-June 5. Last week’s total was 117.

Virg’s Landing

As of Sunday, anglers out of Virg’s have caught 3,672 lingcod.

Recently, four customers have punched their ticket to the December fish-off in ocean waters to the north as qualifiers in the John Rowley fishing celebration of the 2016 season.

Pollock Pines resident Mark Messner grabbed the Week-13 spot with the smallest lingcod thus far, a 10-pounder.

San Jose’s Luis Sole claimed the Week-14 berth with an 18-pound ling, while Rick Firmalo from Visalia earned the Week-15 spot with an 18.7-pound ling.

Bakersfield’s Jose Cortez had quite an experience earning the Week-16 berth. He did it with a 20.8 ling that had swallowed a 5-pound ling. When he checked the end of his ganion, there was also a hooked 5-pound red rockcod (pictured).

Non-qualifying jackpot winners included Bum Barg, Newark, 13.9 ling; Roy Chavez, Fresno, 9.6 ling; and Frank Mashall, Orange Grove, 11.5 ling.

Virg’s offered 13 fishing trips last week transporting 345 customers who put 3,688 fish on the decks, including 308 lings.

Patriot Sportfishing

Some of the bigger lingcod caught this season out of Avila claimed jackpot honors last week. Leading the pack was Arroyo Grande’s Jesse Gillespie with an 18.9-pounder caught at Point Sal aboard the Avenger last Sunday.

Other winners with lings included: Bob Farler, Bakersfield, 16.0; Kevin Rhea, Visalia, 15.0; Janes Matthews, Fullerton, 14.0; Brian Peterson, Elk Grove, 12.0; James Garcia, Santa Maria, Oscar Cortez, Bakersfield, and Blake Bezerra, Phoenix, AZ, all 10.0; Alex Stevens, Bakersfield, 8.0; Conner Gist, Lindsay, 7.0; and Michael Martinez, Corcoran, 3.0 red rockcod.

Caught by 342 passengers were: 88 lingcod, 446 red rockcod, 71 copper rockfish, 35 bolina, 34 cabezon, two bocaccio, one rock sole and 710 assorted rockfish.

Morro Bay Landing

A pair of 15-pound lingcod topped the jackpot list last week. Steve Cummings of Visalia and Philip Peters from Bakersfield shared the honor. Others who reeled in the biggest fish on their trips included Zack Daniels, Santa Maria, and Steve Merlo, Bakersfield, both 13.0 lings, followed by Ben Butterfield and Earl Subejano, both of Visalia, and Dave Dennis, Fullerton, all 12.0 lings; Corey Hamblin, Grover Beach, 9.0 ling; Chris Sperber, San Luis Obispo, Melinda Soo Hoo, Covina, and Eddie Allvarez, Orosi, all 8.0 lings; and Sam Brieno, Hanford, 7.0 vermillion.

The catch by 297 customers included 166 lingcod, 555 red rockcod, 81 coppers, 20 bocaccio and three ocean white fish.

Santa Margarita Lake

Marina Manager Ken Hemer reports: “Herb and Iris Carter from Bakersfield combined to catch a blue catfish weighing near 15 pounds plus bass, redear and crappie. The Carters fished near the buoy line using worms under bobbers. Bass fishing remained steady. Anglers caught limits using frog imitations, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and drop shot.”

Whale Rock

The Week 11 story was the same as previous reports: Two anglers and no trout.

Lake Levels

Lake

Capacity

Current Level

Percent

Lopez

49,388

13,251.9

26.8

Nacimiento

377,900

112,888

29.87

Santa Margarita

23,842.9

2,697.5

11.3

Whale Rock

38,966.5

11,340.3

34.24

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