MATTHEWS’ PICKS OF THE WEEK
1. While another storm front late this week could slow these bites, it is again the week of the crappie. Top pick for slabs is Lake Isabella which has been excellent this past week on fish to two pounds, mostly on live minnows in Kissack Cove. There have been more than a few 25-fish limits reported this past week. The weather could slow this deal, so call Bob’s Bait for an update at 661-833-8657.
2. The second place crappie pick has been Lake Henshaw, which has been simply wide open for anglers fishing the small jigs tipped with meal worms. Most of these fish have been from 3/4-pound to 1 1/2 pounds with some in the two-pound class. But this could also lull with the weather. Call the Henshaw store at 760-782-3501 for the latest here.
3. This crappie pick was a toss-up between Lake Elsinore or Lake Piru because both were a little less consistent than the Isabella and Henshaw bites this past week. Both are worth fishing, so it’s probably a matter of which water is closer to you. For an update on the Elsinore action call William’s Bait, Tackle, and Boat Rental at 951-642-0640, and for the latest on Piru, call the concession office at 805-521-1500, x208, or the gatehouse at x500.
FRESHWATER HOT SPOTS
TROUT: The Sierra trout season opener is this weekend, and a mild winter has most of the region’s waters ice-free. The forecast is for excellent action at Crowley Lake, Convict, the entire June Lake loop (all ice free), and the Twin Lakes at Bridgeport and Bridgeport Reservoir. The Bishop Creek drainage should also be good after heavy DFG plants in the stream, and Sabrina has open water. The planted trout season for the urban lakes is winding down. Plants have ended many places. Top bets are western Riverside County’s Corona Lake, the Orange County’s Santa Ana River Lakes and Irvine Lake, and the High Desert waters of Hesperia Lake and Jess Ranch, all with weekly plants continuing at least this week. In San Diego County, Jennings, Cuyamaca, Morena, are pretty fair bets. Check the water-by-water reports for details. Big Bear Lake remains very good bite along the north shore and in most bays, and the marinas are all now open.
BLACK BASS: The bass action remains good most places with the fish still in the shallows, but the spawn is winding down many places. The bite is hot on plastics, reaction baits, and swim baits. Top best include Perris (which cranked out a lake record 18.8-pounder), Diamond Valley, Skinner (a 14-plus lake record), Casitas, and the whole lower Colorado River. Cachuma and Santa Margarita, and even the higher elevation waters like Piru and Pyramid are also very good. For anglers who want a big bass, check the DFG trout plants and hit those places planted this week with your big swimbaits.
STRIPED BASS: The top pick is again the California aqueduct near Taft. This bite broke wide open over a month ago and while it slowed a little this past week, it’s still very good and the best bet. Lake Silverwood has been surprisingly good, and the bait bite at Diamond Valley improved this past week, and there was a new lake record 34.77-pounder. Elsewhere, the striper bites all are very spotty right now. There are still fish showing at all the usual places -- Castaic and Skinner -- but the bite is mostly tough. Pyramid has been improving and could break open with warmer weather. Best bite has been for trollers. On the Colorado River, the Willow Beach bite is still an option, but not a lot of big fish again this past week. Mojave and Havasu are both starting to turn on as the fish start to move around and move upriver for spawning.
PANFISH: Crappie bites have broken wide open a lot of places this past week. Top picks are Isabella, Henshaw, Elsinore, Piru, and Cachuma, Otay, Hodges, and Sutherland could all pop if the late-week storm doesn’t shut things down again. Nacimiento and Santa Margarita are also worth watching. Silverwood also continues to produce crappie, but it has slowed to just fair. The Salton Sea tilapia bite has been excellent with the full ice-chest mode the rule much of the past week. The bluegill and redear bites are starting to take off a lot of places, too. The bite of note is the one at Lake Perris and Diamond Valley Lake could be a sleeper pick this week.
CATFISH: The flathead catfish bite on the Colorado River seems to be getting better by the day. More and more 12 to 30-pound fishing are being landed each week in the lower river from Havasu south. The channel cats are also on a pretty good bite. Outside of the river, most of the action has been very spotty, but a few big cats are starting to show throughout the region. This week’s sleeper pick would again be Hesperia Lake, which got a big catfish plant three weeks ago and started on a weekly planting schedule this week.
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