Central Coast Fishing: Santa Maria resident wins Port San Luis Halibut Derby with 35-pound catch

According to the vernacular of one Maxwell Smart, this writer nearly missed a key component of last weekend’s Port San Luis Halibut Derby “by that much.”

Tammy Schuyler’s Monday e-mail with derby results failed to arrive at my Oregon residence. An hour-long phone call followed. Saturday’s top-five finishers, as well as Sunday’s top four were documented.

Unbeknownst to me, there still was a missing item. That would be interviewing the overall winner of the restarted event. My compliment to Saturday’s first-place winner Bob Perry on his $906 winnings triggered a response leading to the details of his catch of a nearly 35-pound halibut.

“It almost didn’t happen,” the 39-year-old champion noted.

“I was fishing in 80 feet of water off the Coke Plant,” he added. “I hooked him on the bow and nearly lost it at the stern of Patrick Starr’s boat, Starrship. Our second retrieval attempt was successful.”

Saturday’s place winners were: 1. Bob Perry, Santa Maria 34.2 pounds, $906; 2. Jerry Sato, Arroyo Grande, 30.8 pounds, $566; 3. Scott Allison, Santa Maria, 24.6 pounds, $453; 4. Don Gheno, Santa Maria, 17.4 pounds, $226; 5. Craig Olivera, Santa Maria, 16.6 pounds, $113. Sunday’s place winners were: 1. Tommy Patton, Arroyo Grande, 33.2 pounds, $935; 2. Danny Gheno, Taft, 23.4 pounds, $595; 3. Ross Rickard, Grover Beach, 13.2 pounds, $482; 4. Jim Dana, Los Osos, 13.2 pounds,$255.

Nine halibut were caught on Saturday when 65 entrants fished in tough conditions. The seas were kinder on Sunday when 68 anglers competed, catching only four halibut.

Scramble for Tri Valley Bass club angler of the year

A down-to-the-wire scramble for Angler of the Year honors is in the cards for the Tri Valley Bass club next month in the eighth-and-final regular season competition.

Nick Salvucci and new teammate Graham Grove bested the runner-up team by nearly two pounds in the night tournament at Lake Nacimiento last Saturday. Before leaving for a fly fishing adventure in Montana on Tuesday, Grove said his best efforts were before darkness set in. “I made my contribution using an ‘umbrella rig,’” he said.

Salvucci, who usually teams up with Bassmaster Elite pro Jared Lintner, took over in the darkness. Efforts to contact Salvucci were not successful. The victors cobbled together a 12.41-pound limit including the event’s “big fish,” a 3.27-pound spotted bass.

A different tandem has won the last five tournaments after the father and son team from tne North County, Del and Darrin Bishop, won the first two then moved to the sidelines.

Tri Valley Top 10 (angler, number of fish, weight): 1. Nick Salvucci, Atascadero, Graham Grove, Arroyo Grande, 5, 12.41 pounds; 2. Brad and Chase Austin, Templeton, 5, 10.47; 3. Greg and Mike Higgins, Santa Margarita, 5, 9.58; 4. Joey Reggio, San Luis Obispo, Brian Nawrocki, Atascadero, 5, 9.48; 5. Bill and Pat Twomey, Lompoc, 5, 8.12; 6. Tip Martin, San Luis Obispo, Steve Vidmar, Santa Maria, 5, 7.52; 7. Steve Murray, Clayton Rogers, Bakersfield, 5, 7.45; 8. Michael Hyland, Jason Justice, Bakersfield, 5, 6.84; 9. Robert Gardiner, Dale Litwiler, Lompoc, 4, 6.84; 10. Chris and Kathy Purgason, Lompoc, 5, 6.60.

First Big Fish: 3.27 pounds, Salvucci and Grove; Second Big Flsh, 2.41 pounds, Higgins and Higgins.

Virg’s Landing

The year-end John Rowley week-17 qualifier was Santa Maria’s Cody Glynn with a 19.9-pound lingcod. Other jackpot winners last week were: Mike Nazar, Arroyo Grande, 15.0 ling; Tyler Mallard, Goleta, 14.9 ling; Phillip James, Paso Robles, 14.0 ling; Joshua McCallough, Nipomo, 13.0 ling.“We had nine fishing trips last week with 343 anglers who caught 3,251 fish including 121 lingcod and 627 red rockcod,” Bruce Harwood, Virg’s manager, said. “The landing’s lingcod harvest total through July 24 stood at 3,793.”

Patriot Sportfishing

Topping last week’s jackpot winners was Daly City angler Kevin Kwang with a 14-pound lingcod. With just one exception -- Atascadero’s Greg Aiello with a 3-pound red rockcod -- all the jackpot fish were lingcod. Winning lings included: Gabriel Gorges, Carlsbad, 13.0; Jon Cox, Santa Maria, and Kirk Mouser, Shafter, both 12.0; Steve Gieske, Paso Robles, Steve Pruet, Wasco, David Bringley, Santa Maria, and Daniel Jungwirth, Visalia, all 11.0; Duane Inglish, Pismo Beach, Armando Baez, Santa Maria, and Beau Priest, Bakersfield, all 10.0; Simeon McRan, Buellton, 8.0, Ron Keck, Cambria, and Michael Knowles, Taft, both 7 .0; and Donnie Saelee, Visalia, 6.0

A total of 477 passengers caught 122 lingcod, bringing the 2016 total to 2,469.

Morro Bay Landing

Hanford’s Ron Keck led the way last week with the catch of an 18.5-pound lingcod. As usual, you needed a lingcod to shoulder your way into the “big fish” competition.

Other jackpot winners between July 18-24 were: Nate Bower, Bakersfield, 17.0; Mike Soars, Visalia, 16.0; Ventura Garcia, Guadalupe, 14.0; Mike Smith, Bakersfield, 13.0; Dan Perry, Tulare, 12.0; Albert Camacho, Lemoore, and Bill Romley, Bakersfield, both 10.0; John Fox, Morro Bay, and David Gutierrez, Tulare, both 9.0; and Cameron Lyman, Wildmore, 7.0.

Last week’s lingcod harvest by 279 patrons was 155 fish.

Port San Luis Boatyard

The week was dominated by the Halibut Derby on the weekend when 30 boats were dispatched both Saturday and Sunday transporting tournament entrees. Otherwise, 94 boats were launched with 28 lingcod, 13 halibut and four white seabass counted. Half rockcod limits were recorded five days and half limits twice. No Whopper of the Week was recorded.

Santa Margarita Lake

Marina Manager Ken Hemer reports: “Top water offerings are producing bass catches both early and late in the day. At midday, the most successful approaches have been with Senkos, blades and traps with some reaction baits also working well. Two and three pounds have been the most prevalent weights, with an occasional five. Hair jigs and the addition of nibbles are the ticket when worked near submerged wood. The prime catfish locations are in shallow coves or rocky shorelines. Cut mackerel and packaged dough baits have been the best producers.”

Whale Rock

The story has been the same since the late April opening: Few anglers and no trout. Week No. 12 found two anglers going fishless.

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Whale Rock