JIM MATTHEWS’ PICKS OF THE WEEK
1. It looks like the high winds of last week are dying down and the upper Kern River above Lake Isabella is excellent for trout -- trout to a whopping six pounds. The river is fishing better than it has in a long time. Flows are very low for this time of year and the fish are stacked up in the pools and showing for both fly, bait, and lure anglers. Two places to get updates. For bait and lure anglers, call Bob’s Bait in Bakersfield at 661-833-8657. For flyfishing news, check with the Kern River Fly Shop at 760-376-2040.
2. Weekly plants of catfish and balmy weather have the Hesperia Lake catfish bite moving into the No. 2 spot this week. The best action is early in the morning or late in the afternoon, but a lot of nice stringers of catfish with fish to 16-8 were reported this past week. The bite has been good on any cut bait doused with Love Sauce. You don’t need a state fishing license here, either. For an update on this bite call the tackle shop at 800-521-6332 or 760-244-5951.
3. The heat is on and the striper bite is taking off on the Colorado River from the upper end of Lake Havasu all the way up into the Bullhead City-Laughlin region. The stripers are up in the moving water for the spawn, and anglers are seeing a lot of better quality fish from four to 10 pounds in this bite. Most of the fish are showing on drifted anchovies in the bigger pools, but some anglers are getting fish on shad-like cranks, swim baits, and even topwater lures. For an update on this action, check with Riviera Marina at 928-763-8550 in the Bullhead area. Phil’s Western Trader at 928-768-4954 in the Needles-Topoc region, or Bass Tackle Master at 928-854-2277 on Lake Havasu.
FRESHWATER HOT SPOTS
TROUT: The trout bite throughout the Eastern Sierra region remains excellent and access to more high elevation waters have opened up this past week. Top picks in a region filled with good fishing would be Bridgeport Reservoir, Crowley Lake, the entire June Lake loop, and the Twin Lakes at Bridgeport. The entire Bishop Creek drainage is also a very good bet, especially South Lake with another plant of huge Alper’s fish and rainbows to nine pounds were reported. In urban Southern California plants have ended most places and the bites have gone in the tank quickly. Top bet is Jess Ranch in Hesperia (which is continuing to get weekly plants). In the local mountains, Big Bear Lake remains very good along the north shore and in most bays, and Jenks Lake and Gregory are getting DFG fish now. Lake Hemet and Lake Cuyamaca have also been excellent, and Cuyamaca got a double plant last week for the holiday, including trophy fish.
BLACK BASS: The bass action remains good most places on plastics, reaction baits, and swim baits. Good surface action is also starting most places. Top bets include Diamond Valley, Skinner, Casitas, Perris, and the whole lower Colorado River. Cachuma and Santa Margarita, and even the higher elevation waters like Piru, Pyramid, and Silverwood are also good.
STRIPED BASS: On the Colorado River, the striper bite from the upper end of Havasu all the way upriver to Bullhead City is starting to turn on as fish from four to 10 pounds run upriver to spawn. The bite has been surprisly good. The Willow Beach bite cooled a little but should come back on during the full moon. Closer to home, the California aqueduct near Taft slowed to just fair, and the top bet for a quality fish is Lake Silverwood and the best bet for volume catches of two to five-pound fish is either Diamond Valley, Skinner, or Pyramid -- in about that order. Elsewhere, the striper bites all are very spotty right now. The wiper bite at Lake Elsinore took off two weeks ago and while winds slowed this bite late last week, it’s still something to watch for fish to 10 pounds or better.
PANFISH: Henshaw’s crappie bite stalled, and the crappie bite at Elsinore also sputtered a little. That leaves Piru and Isabella, both which have pretty fair bites for anglers who know how to fish deeper water. Crappie bites at Sutherland, Otay, and Hodges are worth watching but all slowed. Casitas has been just fair, but some pigs to three pounds have been caught on live shad. Silverwood remained just fair with some bluegill joining the crappie. The Salton Sea tilapia bite has been excellent with the full ice-chest mode the rule much of the past week when winds didn’t kill the bite. The bluegill and redear bites really exploded in a lot of places. Top bets for nice stringers are Lake Perris, Lake Skinner, Diamond Valley Lake, Otay, and Hodges. The bite on the all four of the Central Coast lakes -- Lopez, Santa Margarita, Nacimiento, and San Antonio -- are good, in about that order.
CATFISH: The flathead catfish bite on the Colorado River is very good. Lots of eight to 15-pound fish and cats to 30 pounds are being reported each week now in the lower river from Havasu south. The channel cats are also on a pretty good bite. Outside of the river, Hesperia Lake, Santa Ana River Lake, and Corona Lake are the top bets for planted fish (all three are planting weekly), and Elsinore is really good to excellent for wild fish to 10 pounds or more.
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