MATTHEWS’ PICKS OF THE WEEK
1. Bluegill! Diamond Valley Lake gets into the top picks regularly for its bass action -- and it could be in this spot for that now, too -- but it’s the wide open bluegill bite that has earned it a spot in the picks again this week. The fish are showing in a lot of locations around the lake on small jigs and baits fishing in six to 20 feet of water. Bluegill topping a pound have been caught each week. For an update on this bite and tips where to go, check with the marina at 951-926-7201 or Last Chance Bait and Tackle in Hemet at 951-658-7410.
2. Quality stripers! The striped bass action has remained good at San Antonio Lake on the Central Coast with the fish boiling on shad. The action has been best in the evenings, but the boils can come up any time and can be tapped with spoons, swimbaits, or surface plugs hurled into the boils. The best part is that these are quality stripers from six to 12 pounds with fish over 20-pound each of the past two weeks. For an update on this bite, call the marina at 805-472-2818 or Jim’s Pro Bass Tackle at 805-237-0549.
3. Tilapia! This is getting redundant, but the Salton Sea tilapia action remains simply spectacular. Air temperatures have peaked well over 100 degrees every day this past week, but the action on the tilapia remains as hot as the weather with most anglers keeping from 20 to 50 3/4-pound or bigger tilapia. The state park headquarters’ jetty and the jetty at the Salton Sea Visitor Center (at the old Salton Sea Yacht Club) are still the hot spots and nightcrawlers pieces are still the best bait to fish. For an update on the bite, call the ranger station 760-393-3052.
FRESHWATER HOT SPOTS
TROUT: The best action in Southern California has been at Big Bear Lake with limits of holdover rainbows to three pounds or better pretty common for trollers and shore anglers in Trout Alley. Gregory and Green Valley Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains are both being planted this week and should be good. Jenks Lake is fair to good, and Lake Hemet is also pretty good. There are also a few holdover fish being landed by deep trollers at Silverwood, Cachuma, and Casitas – in about that order. The bite also remains very good at Cuyamaca. Trout action in the Sierra Nevada remains fair to good overall, with the June Lake loop (especially Silver), Virgina Lakes, and Bridgeport Reservoir all top bets. Other good bets include Twin Lakes (Bridgeport), South Lake and the South Fork of Bishop Creek. For fly anglers, Hot Creek is probably the best bet in spite of high flows and Bishop Creek has been good (big carpenter ant “hatch”).
BLACK BASS: Not much change here. It’s surface bite season. While the overall bass action could probably only be rated fair all across Southern California, almost all lakes have some topwater (think frogs) and reaction bait (cranks, jerkbaits, and spinnerbaits) action early and late in the day (and early is better with the heat). During the day, the fish generally sound to deeper structure where they can be caught on dark plastics. Top bet is still Diamond Valley, but the bites are decent at Sutherland, Otay, El Capitan, Skinner, Perris, Silverwood, Casitas, Castaic, Piru, and Cachuma. On the Central Coast, Santa Margarita, Nacimiento, San Antonio, and Lopez are all still pretty fair for bass. On the Colorado River, the Topoc Gorge smallmouth bite has been good, but except for the narrow window of early morning Havasu and the lower river has been tougher.
STRIPED BASS: There is an excellent striper bite at the California aqueduct near Taft with most anglers getting two-fish limits of fish from four to five pounds, with some to 12 pounds or better. The Colorado River, there have been a lot of quality fish to 20 pounds at Willow Beach, while Havasu and Topoc Gorge are producing one to four-pound fish in a fair bite. The striper bite at the local SoCal lakes had been inconsistent, but Pyramid and Skinner looking to have finally turned on semi-permanent for the summer with excellent action much of the past week. Castaic finally looked to be turning around, too, with some good catches over the 4th. Silverwood has been fair, but Diamond Valley remains pretty tough. And finally, the San Antonio Lake striper bite has remained hot with a lot of quality fish from five to eight pounds in a wide open topwater bite for the second week in a row.
PANFISH: The No. 1 panfish bite in the region could still be considered the exceptional tilapia action at the Salton Sea, but there’s a super bluegill and redear bite at Diamond Valley Lake. The redear bite is also still very good in Havasu and Topoc Gorge area on the Colorado River. The bluegill and redear bites are also still good at Perris, Casitas, and most other waters with these fish. A top bluegill spot has been Lower Otay. Piru and Castaic are good. The crappie bites slowed most place but there is still fair to good action at Irvine and Cachuma, which was producing more fish again this week. Also some crappie at Santa Margarita and Wohlford.
CATFISH: The Colorado River in good for catfish with flatheads and channels showing in good numbers. There are high flows on the lower river, but the action has been good on flatheads to 35 pounds and channels to eight pounds again this week. Southern California lakes are also all starting to turn on with more and more cats showing, and stocking programs are in full swing now at most places that plant. The hands-down top spot has been Elsinore, but Hesperia Lake is getting big plants of cats each week now, and Corona Lake and Santa Ana River Lakes are being planted with cats each and weekly trophy catfish plants start this week. Other good catfish bets are Irvine, Skinner, Silverwood, and Pyramid. All the San Bernardino County Parks are also being planted weekly.
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