JIM MATTHEWS’ PICKS OF THE WEEK
1. The ocean is finally coming alive and the white seabass bite all along the coast is the best it has been in modern times and the limit goes from one to three fishing this weekend. The seabass are really focused on the freshly-hatched squid. Find the squid and the seabass are there with toads from 30 to 60 pounds caught in good numbers this past week. The action has been particularly good in the Channel Islands region, but the seabass are showing from San Diego to Point Conception, so pick a landing and go.
2. Weekly plants of catfish and warm but mild weather have kept the Hesperia Lake catfish bite in the No. 2 spot again 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 22 pounds were reported this past week and one-hour limits were common. 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 starting to build, but the tilapia action at the Salton Sea is simply off the charts right now with ice-chests full of tilapia up to 1 1/2 pounds or better showing for everyone tossing nightcrawler pieces. The hot spots have been the State Park headquarters jetty and the free fishing jetty at the refurbished Salton Sea Yacht Club. For an update on the action, call the Visitor Center (open Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) at 760-393-3810.
FRESHWATER HOT SPOTS
TROUT: The upper Kern River has been excellent above Lake Isabella and it’s a top pick. 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 rainbows to nine pounds again this week. 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 good in the main body of the lake and deep-water shorelines along the north shore. Jenks Lake and Gregory are getting DFG fish now. Lake Hemet and Lake Cuyamaca have also been excellent.
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. Add Isabella to the mix this week, too.
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 surprisingly good. The Willow Beach bite is fair. 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 three 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 is dismal. That leaves Piru and Isabella, both which have 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 slow, but some pigs to three pounds have been caught on live shad. Silverwood, like most places, continues to slow. 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. Mornings have been best with fish to two pounds. 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 Lakes, Irvine lake, and Corona Lake are the top bets for planted fish (all are planting regularly), and Elsinore is really good to excellent for wild fish to 10 pounds or more.
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