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 (21 weeks in a row of DFW fish). Lake Skinner also jumped into the top bets for trout after three plants since Feb. 17. 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 “steelhead” above Crowley Lake in the Sierra for fly anglers.
BLACK BASS: The bass are starting to break out of their winter patterns at most of the lower-elevation, warmer waters throughout the southern half of the state. The fish are poking into the sun-warmed shallows and fish are being caught in as little as four feet of water some places. Top bets, about in order of action, are El Capitan, Skinner, Castaic, Diamond Valley, Casitas, Piru, Perris and Lower Otay (which produced an 11-plus this past week). On the Colorado River, the bites have also started to come around, especially from Lake Havasu south.
STRIPED BASS: The striper action has been fair. The top bite has been the California aqueduct near Taft. Skinner, Silverwood, Pyramid and Diamond Valley all have stayed slow to fair this past week, but Skinner produced several fish to 23 pounds following its resumption of trout plants, and Pyramid has also been producing double digit fish after DFW plants (and one goes in this week). On the Colorado River, almost all the bites have gone or remain very slow, but a few more fish were reported from the Bullhead stretch of the river this week and the Havasu fish are showing signs of life.
PANFISH: The biggest news remains the crappie bite on quality fish at Casitas Lake, and the hot new bite at Lake Elsinore. These are both finesse bites on small jigs. There have also been on-and-off bites at Isabella (off again this past week), Lower Otay, El Capitan (way off), and to a lesser extent at Silverwood (also off). Hodges remains a sleeper crappie pick since it reopened two weeks ago. Lake Skinner has been cranking out a few big bluegill to two pounds each of the past three weeks, now, but it’s certainly not wide open. Perris and Casitas also showed off a few one-pound plus bluegill this past week, and Diamond Valley continues to produce the odd big redear.
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 over a month ago remains a pretty fair bet, and there continue to be a fair number of catfish from the California aqueduct near Taft.