Central Coast Fishing: Popular Virg’s Landing captain couple retires to Oregon

A couple who have captained fishing boats out of Virg’s Landing in Morro Bay for more than three decades have retired to Waldport, Oregon.

Both John and Sharon Rowley have been favorite skippers out of Virg’s.

Actually, three generations from this family have piloted Virg’s boats. Sharon’s mother, Rita Gartrell, didn’t get her license until she was in her 50s.

For 13 years (1979-1992) Gartrell was a skipper requested by patrons who fished out of Virg’s.

John has served the fishing public for 33 years (1983-2016). The past two seasons, he has been in the wheelhouse of the Princess for the climax of Virg’s year-long lingcod contests.

Sharon has been a Virg’s captain for 22 years (1994-2016). In addition, she has carried on the Kids At Sea program launched by John and Sharon’s daughter, Michele Leary.

Sharon has been instrumental in the annual fundraiser for the Central Coast Women for Fisheries. The proceeds from the sale of albacore enchiladas prior to Super Bowl weekend provides college scholarships for Central Coast students. She plans to continue to be involved in this endeavor.

Leary passed away in 2004, eight years after getting her captain’s license.

The popular Kids At Sea program was Leary’s brainchild.

“This program will morph into a ‘Friends of Rollo’ series that will operate out of Virg’s in 2017,” Sharon said.

John and Sharon moved to Waldport in late July. They worked at Virg’s Landing right up until their move.

In an e-mail to this writer, Sharon wrote, “Since before our kids were born we have come up to Oregon once a year to camp, fish and crab off docks. John will continue to provide guidance in fixing boat-related problems. Now, however, he will do it via telephone.”

She expressed her intention of keeping up the annual Captain Michele Leary Memorial Scholarship for Morro Bay High School seniors. Last June was the third annual, and two students received $1,000 each.

“Currently, we have enough for one scholarship for June 2017,” she said.

Port San Luis Boatyard

Nipomo’s Patrick Starr became the first two-time winner of Whopper of the Week honors. Both times he cranked up a halibut. The flattie he harvested on Aug. 5 weighed 40.2 pounds. Three weeks ago, he earned the honor by catching a 46-pound halibut.

Ninety-six lingcod were checked in last week along with 11 halibut. Aug. 1 was the only day last week when full rockcod limits were recorded.

Half rockcod limits were logged three days, three quarter limits once and half to three quarter limits twice.

Virg’s Landing

The catch by 460 anglers on 17 trips last week was 4,223 fish, including 358 lingcod and 795 red rockfish. Through Aug. 6, anglers out of Virg’s have caught 4,412 lingcod.

Jackpot winners all with lingcod included: Laoer Noi, Visalia, 22.9; Shannon Jessica, San Luis Obispo, 22.7; Simon Puente, Fresno, 22.5; Calvin Walker, Bakersfield; 18.0, Tom Robertson, Hanford 16.3; Charles Springfield, Fresno, 15.5; Steve Mosley, Bakersfield, 15.0; Brandon Remington, Delano, 14.7; and Gabe Bressler, Tehachapi, 14.5.

Patriot Sportfishing

Alena Robbin from Fresno celebrated her birthday in style. Her 16.0 lingcod was the biggest jackpot fish of the week. (She didn’t reveal her age.)

Other jackpot winners were: Louis Jones, Tulare, 14.0; Ron Garcia, Humboldt, Ryan Hoffman, Templeton, Nathan Ramirez, Bakersfield, Sammy Sanchez, Lompoc, all 12.0 fish; Ron Keck, Cambria, 11.0; Carson Brockway, Big Creek, Jesse Peralez, Fresno, Manny Lopez, Santa Maria, Natalie Mirasol, Arcadia, all 10.0; Thomas Everest, Fullerton, and David Tidwell, Salinas, both 9.0.

Morro Bay Landing

Jackpot winners out of the landing last week were led by Ken Davis from Bakersfield with a 26.5-pound lingcod.

Other winners, all with lingcod were: Clint Thomas, Santa Margarita, 18.9; Tyler Barnhart, Bakersfield, 18.0; Kim Bustamonte, Tehachapi, 10.0; Dave Martinez, Tulare, 10.0; Nick Galvan, Fresno, 7.0; Jim Reese, Coalinga, 16.0; Billy Armstrong, Paso Robles, 11.0; Lisa Bueno, Bakersfield, 14.0; Greg Veach, Visalia, 15.0; Ron Keck, Cambria, 8.0; and Nick Brenns, San Simeon, 16.0.

Santa Margarita Lake

Marina manager Ken Hemer’s report reads: “Sarah Guglielmo scored her personal best largemouth bass, 7.5 pounds using a home made in-line spinner off a marina fishing dock. Bass have been good both early and late with top water presentations. At midday when the wind comes up a reaction bite kicks in. Crappie action has been good on hair jigs baited with nibbles when fished in stick ups. Both redear and bluegill have been showing up around weed edges. Red worms under a float has been the ticket. The best location for catfish has been shallow coves and flats when the baits of choice are cut mackerel and chicken liver.”

Whale Rock

No change here. Two anglers had the same fate as all previous anglers - no fish.

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Santa Margarita




Whale Rock