By: Jim Matthews
TROUT: Winter trout season is in full swing in Southern California with most lakes stocking weekly or alternating weeks. Top bets with weekly plants include Santa Ana River Lake, Laguna Niguel, Dixon Lake, Irvine Lake, Lake Poway, Corona Lake, Lake Jennings, and Lake Silverwood (17 weeks in a row of DFW fish). All of the San Bernardino County parks — Glen Helen, Prado, Cucamonga-Guasti, Yucaipa, and Mojave Narrows — are getting weekly 1,000-pound plants. Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains has been good with fish to six pounds in the past week. There is also an excellent bite on the upper Owens River above Crowley Lake in the Sierra for fly anglers.
BLACK BASS: The bass are mostly in a winter pattern with fish in deeper water now. Top bets, about in order of action, are El Capitan, Skinner, Castaic, Casitas, Piru, and Lower Otay. On the Colorado River, the bites have slowed dramatically and there is very little fishing pressure, but there is some smallmouth action in the lower river, especially around rip-rap.
STRIPED BASS: The striper action has been fair. The top bites have been at Skinner, Silverwood, and Pyramid, but the bites slowed even more at Castaic. Diamond Valley is still fair at best, but looked like it was improving this week with some good catches of fish to eight pounds. The California aqueduct near Taft remains a very good striper bet with a lot of fish to six pounds on cranks and rip baits. On the Colorado River, almost all the bites have gone in the tank, but a few more fish were reported from the Bullhead stretch of the river this week.
PANFISH: Finally some life showing on the panfish front. The biggest news is the crappie bite on quality fish at Casitas Lake (including a near-four-pound lake record). There is also a fledgling bite on crappie at Silverwood. Lake Skinner has been cranking out a few big bluegill to 1-8 each of the past two weeks, and there are still a few crappie showing at Lower Otay and El Capitan in what could be the beginning of a winter (or very early spring) bite.
CATFISH: The flathead catfish bite on the Colorado River remains in the tank, but the channel catfish bite in the Palo Verde lagoon has continued fair with almost no pressure. Blue and channel catfish continue to show very sporadically in most in SoCal reservoirs. The Lake Isabella winter catfish bite that broke open a month ago has slowed to just fair. Few other catfish reports in the past week.