BY BLAKE WARREN
LONG BEACH – The 2021 Saltwater Bass Series regular season culminated this past weekend with the Series’ two-day Year-End Championship event based out of Long Beach, and great weather and good fishing greeted 30 of the best saltwater bass fishing teams in Southern California who were all eager to vie for the top spot.
Plenty of options were on the table for the teams as to where to run out of Long Beach in search of a big bag, and more lure choices were in play with water temps slowly inching upward. With Masters Division and Rookie/Family Division teams fishing against each other in the Year-End Championship,
it was sure to be a shootout, and the biting bass didn’t disappoint.
Ultimately it would be the Hookup Baits team of Chad Geirlich and Al Vasquez who claimed the crown, anchored by back-to-back hefty sacks of salty bass to edge out the runners-up by just over 2 pounds.
Day One saw a pair of bags eclipsing the 20-pound mark, with the Hookup Baits duo at the top with 22.36 pounds to set a high bar, while Richard Jeppesen and John Gharib nipped at the leaders’ heels with just over 21.5 followed by father-son Adam and Justin Larson in third with nearly 18.5 pounds — big bass for the day was a grumpy sand bass at 6.70 pounds for Jake Boaz and Matt Moyer.
The solid fishing continued on Day Two, when the weigh-ins would see the heaviest limit of the Championship with Matt Kobzeff and Rex McConnell’s impressive 25.56-pound sack, ultimately launching the duo up into fourth place for the two-day event. The top three on the leaderboard heading into the final day would stay exactly the same, as Geirlich and Vasquez toted 25.26 to the scales followed by Jeppesen and Gharib’s 23.84 and the Larsons’ 21.72 pounds. Jeppesen and Gharib also locked up the Championship’s big fish honors, edging out the Day One big with a 6.87 pounder.
Most of the event’s fish were caught on plastics fished deeper in the water column, with Big Hammer swimbaits seemingly doing much of the damage, whether fished on leadheads or Alabama rigs.
Afterwards the results were announced as teams gobbled up pulled pork sandwiches and the Anglers of the Year were named — it was Josh Marquard and Shannon Perkins taking AOY honors in the Masters Division and Tom and Cash Troop claiming AOY in the Rookie/Family Division. Tons of great product from the SBS’ great sponsors was raffled off as well, highlighted by the team of Ed Hesbol and Josh Damus taking home the Grand Raffle Prize Mercury 115hp, 4-stroke motor.
Up next for the Series is the July 10 Hardbait Only Open event. Check out the SBS website at saltwaterbassseries.com for all the info you’ll need for that event and others, and also keep your eyes peeled for the 2022 SBS schedule.
“Stay tuned for the next year’s schedule, it should be up very soon,” Mahieu said. “Thanks to all of our great sponsors, SBS staff and all the participating teams this year! We are pretty much post-Covid and things are turning back to ‘normal.’ Can’t wait for the 2022 season to get here.”