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 (22 weeks in a row of DFW fish). Lake Skinner also jumped into the top bets for trout after three plants since Feb. 17 and another slated for next week. All of the San Bernardino County parks — Glen Helen, Prado, Cucamonga-Guasti, Yucaipa, and Mojave Narrows — are getting weekly 1,000-pound plants. 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 move heavily into the spawn with fish moving into the shallows and fanning out nests in many of the lower elevation waters. Top bets, about in order of action, are El Capitan, Skinner, Castaic, Diamond Valley, Casitas, Piru, Perris, and Lower Otay. On the Colorado River, the bites have also started to come around, especially from Lake Havasu south, but there is such light fishing pressure it’s hard to tell.
STRIPED BASS: The striper action has been fair and improving. Skinner, Silverwood, Pyramid, and Diamond Valley all have stayed slow to fair this past week, but Skinner produced more fish to 23 pounds following its resumption of trout plants two weeks ago, and Pyramid has also been producing double digit fish after DFW plants (and went in last 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 and the weather and moon phase may have cobbled them up a bit. There have also been on-and-off bites at Isabella (on again this past week), Lower Otay, El Capitan, and to Silverwood. Hodges remains a sleeper crappie pick since it reopened but was off this week. There has been a terrific, surprising bluegill bite at Lake Isabella with some real slabs over a pound (along with a much improve crappie bite). Diamond Valley Lake is getting little panfish pressure, but there continue to be some toad redear topping two pounds caught. 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.
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 remains a pretty fair bet.