CASTAIC — Without question, 2017 has been a very kind year for Castaic Lake bass anglers. With the lake level up near capacity for the first time in years, the last couple spawns having been apparently pretty phenomenally successful and the black bass having settled into their new digs quite comfortably, it's awfully tough to not be optimistic on the classic L.A. County watershed at the moment, where racking up anywhere from 20- to 50-fish days has gradually slipped into being the new normal on most occasions.
There's been some spots of topwater action going down in recent weeks, but the reaction bite on the whole seems to now be gathering some steam. While your more finesse Roboworms and Senkos still continue to primarily rule the roost at Castaic, some quality bass are taking their fair share of whacks at both jerkbaits and cranks to make for some fun fishing at the reservoir.
“The reaction bite is definitely picking up,” said Castaic regular John Petroski. “I just did a little 3-hour tour and nabbed a dozen fish. No bigs, but solid crankbait action in 8 to 20 feet. The drop-shot is still working good with Ice Picks and Roboworms, but the early-morning topwater and mid-morning crankbait bites have begun to take shape.”
Petroski also reported that there have been more guys at Castaic soaking live shad as the “shad bloom” has begun to kick in, and that the candy bait is obviously your best bet at an easy score.
Southern California bass guide Rusty Brown made a few pit stops of his own at Castaic last week and echoed Petroski’s report of the emerging reaction bite.
“We were getting 'em pretty good on smaller jerkbaits in silver and black and your smaller Shad Raps and X-Raps in shad patterns on outside edges,” Brown said. “I think we had 40 fish one day and 36 on the other, with a lot of 2 and 3 pounders and a few better ones going 4½ to 5 on those smaller crankbaits. The key seems to be working that 2- to 10-foot zone anywhere there's a little of that river rock.”
When the reaction thing isn't happening in earnest, 4- or 5-inch Senkos in green pumpkin or 6-inch margarita mutilator Roboworms on drop-shot or Texas-rig setups have been the ticket for racking up the counts. The top-producing areas as of late have been Hawk's Nest, Sharon's Rest and the area around Kong Island. While a lot of smallies had been making appearances in recent weeks, it was more of a largemouth deal this past week, Brown noted, with smallmouth making up just about 20 percent of the total catch.
The striped bass bite at Castaic also seems to be building toward a crescendo. There have been some solid-quality jailbirds picked off in recent weeks and that should only increase in frequency moving forward with the shad coming on in full force.
“The water temp is already around 73 to 76,” Petroski reported. “And with a blazing forecast ahead, I’m feeling that stripers will be coming to the front of the line as we roll into the last couple weeks of June.”
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