MATTHEWS’ PICKS OF THE WEEK
1. The ocean was hammered by winds this past week, but the forecast is for better weather and tides. In spite of the weather, the fishing has been excellent all along the coast for most species. It’s time to hit the salt. Top picks in the ocean are the Channel Islands white seabass, the calico and sand bass along with barracuda for the whole nearshore scene from San Diego to the Santa Monica Bay, and the overnight boats out of San Diego are just hammering the yellowtail on the kelp with a few Bluefin in the mix. The top ocean pick would be San Clemente Island where the bite has been excellent on huge yellowtail to 40 pounds, and the bite on quality calicos is also top notch.
2. For yet another week, Hesperia Lake remains in the No. 2 spot because of the excellent, limit-style fishing for catfish. The best action is early in the morning or late in the afternoon, but a lot of nice stringers of catfish with fish to nearly 20 pounds were reported this past week and one-hour limits were common again. 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 bluegill and redear bites are very good to excellent a lot of places right now, but Diamond Valley Lake has cranked out some pig ‘gills to two pounds this past week in a hot bite on the dam steps and in most coves with stickups. The action is on the usual array of baits, but small jigs tipped with meal worms or wax worms have been the hot set-up. The best bite has been early in the morning. For an update on this bite, call the marina at 951-926-7201 or Last Chance Bait and Tackle at 951-658-7410.
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 most high elevation waters have opened up almost a month ahead of normal. 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 four pounds 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 still good, but the average size fish has dropped into the one to two-pound class. But there are still quite a few six to 10 pounders showing. The bite has been surprisingly good. The Willow Beach bite is fair to good on bigger fish. 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, Castaic, 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 from shore, but they are being landed again in deeper water by boat anglers in good numbers. The crappie bite at Elsinore is dismal. Cachuma, Piru, and Isabella, are all pretty fair bets in deeper water for boat anglers, and a few fish are showing at Perris. Casitas has been slow, but some pigs to three pounds have been caught on live shad. The Salton Sea tilapia bite has been excellent with the full ice-chest mode the rule much of the past week. 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 Diamond Valley Lake, Lake Perris, Lake Skinner, 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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