By TERRENCE BERG
PICKS OF THE WEEK
1. While the bluefin tuna could probably stay in the top bite slot this week, there’s just too little fishing pressure to make that call. The half-day yellowtail bite for the San Diego Landings has remained excellent with five-fish limits reported some days. These are mostly the smaller three to six-pound fish, but the action is very good for the season. For an update on the action, check the reports and audio on 976-tuna.com.
2. The Lake Skinner striper bite has been pretty solid for the past three weeks for anglers fishing cut baits at or near the inlet, but for anglers have have been able to dip live shad early in the morning, the bite has been exceptional. While most of the fish two to five-pounder, there have been stripers to nearly 10 pounds reported in the past week. For an update on this bite, check with the marina staff at 951-926-8515.
3. The DFW has a bunch of brown trout that it will be stocking out on waters where they can be planted, and Silverwood Lake got a 2,000-pound plant of these fish this past Friday. For anglers who know how to fish for browns (skip PowerBait, and think small lures or drifted nightcrawlers), the action has been very good with a number of limits of fish to two pounds reported. Another DFW trout plant was slated for this week. More browns? For an update on this bite, check with the marina at 760-389-2299.
FRESHWATER HOT SPOTS
TROUT: Trout season is in full swing across Southern California urban lakes getting private plants. DFW fish started being stocked three weeks ago, and those plants continued this week. In the planted trout lakes, top picks for this week continue to be Lake Wohlford, Dixon, and Jennings in San Diego County, Apollo Park Lake in Lancaster, Santa Ana River Lakes in Orange County, and all the San Bernardino County park lakes (Glen Helen, Cucamonga-Guasti, Yucaipa, Prado, and Mojave Narrows) which get plants weekly now. Other waters good in San Diego County included Cuyamaca and Santee Lakes. A sleeper pick, better than many local urban waters, is the trout action in the Colorado River near Bullhead City. Limits of one-pound class fish have been pretty common. In the Sierra, the upper Owens winter catch-and-release bite has broken wide open on big fish running up out of Crowley. For anglers who like wild fish, this is the top pick, but you may need a snowmobile to access the river this week. Big Bear Lake also has a pretty darn good winter bite for bank anglers with several fish to four pounds reported again this week and lots of limits.
BLACK BASS: The action is finally slowing at many waters, but it is still fair to good other places. The best bites are now on drop-shot plastics during the middle part of most days. Top bets continue to be Lower Otay, Castaic, Pyramid, El Capitan, San Vicente, Diamond Valley, and Skinner. On the Colorado River, the bites have slowed but a few fish are showing in Havasu and Mohave along with the lower river backwaters. Smallmouth have also been fair in the lower Colorado River, but there is just no fishing pressure.
STRIPED BASS: The striper action was generally just fair this past week, with a couple of exceptions. Skinner is the top pick with a lot of small fish and a few bigger, especially if you dip life shad. Pyramid, Castaic, Silverwood, and Diamond Valley are slower than Skinner, but Pyramid and Castaic are still fair. Not as much surface action, but still a lot of fish on deeper swimbaits, trolled flies, umbrella rigs, jigging spoons, and — of course – the usual array of baits, especially lug and blood worms. The California aqueduct near Taft is still fair on frozen sardines and blood worms, and more keeper fish are starting to show. The Colorado River’s Lake Havasu and Lake Mohave are both fair. Lots of small stripers in the river between Davis Dam and Topoc Gorge. This stretch of the river is getting weekly trout plants and the big stripers are taking advantage of the feed.
PANFISH: The bluegill and redear bites are slow across the board now. Even Murray and Lower Otay which had continued to produce a few fish are pretty much shut down now. There was a three-pound class bluegill caught at Diamond Valley Lake this week, but it was caught trolling for stripers. A few big redear continue to show from Havasu in deep water on nightcrawlers, but few other reports.
CATFISH: Overall, the catfish bites have slowed way down across the region, but getting very little fishing pressure so the action is hard to gauge. Catfish anglers should focus on Skinner, El Capitan, San Vicente, the California aqueduct below Quail Lake, Quail Lake itself, Lower Otay, Pyramid, and Isabella. The lower Colorado River has also slowed way down as water levels drop, but there is very light fishing pressure.
The following waters are scheduled to be planted with rainbow trout from Department of Fish and Wildlife hatcheries this week (Jan. 7-13):
VENTURA: Casitas Lake, Rancho Simi Park Lake.
LOS ANGELES: Castaic Lake, Reseda Park Lake.
SAN BERNARDINO: Silverwood Lake.
SAN DIEGO: Chollas Park Lake, Cuyamaca Lake, Lake Murray.
KERN: Brite Valley Reservoir, Kern River (sections 1 and 2), Lake Isabella.
The following waters are tentatively scheduled to be planted next week (Jan. 14-20):
TULARE: Del Lago Park Lake, Mooney Grove Park Pond.
FRESNO: Avocado Lake, Kings River (below Pine Flat Dam), Pine Flat Reservoir.
The following waters were planted last week (Dec. 31-Jan. 6):
LOS ANGELES: Alondra Park Lake, Belvedere Lake, Downey Wilderness Park Lake, El Dorado Park Lakes, Hansen Dam Lake, Legg Lakes, MacArthur Park Lake, Pyramid Lake, Santa Fe Reservoir.
SAN BERNARDINO: Silverwood Lake.
KERN: Hart Park Lake, Ming Lake, River Walk Park Lake, Truxtun Lake.
TULARE: Mooney Grove Park Pond.
For trout plants statewide, you can visit the DFW’s stocking page at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FishPlants/. This page is frequently updated after this news report is published so current week, next week’s, and even previous week’s plant information may change.
OCEAN FISHING REPORT
OFFSHORE BLUEFIN ACTION CONTINUES: The offshore bluefin tuna bite has continued right up until and into the storm that moved through early this week. Early Tuesday, the New Lo-An returned from its 1 1/2-day trip and the 22 anglers on board had limits (44) of bluefin from 40 to 60 pounds fishing late Monday. The Saturday-Sunday trip had 27 anglers and they landed 54 bluefin of the same grade. The Shogun out of Fisherman’s Landing also had a 1 1/2-day trip returning on Sunday and the 31 anglers on board landed 25 bluefin. This bite is far from over.
SAN DIEGO HALF-DAY YELLOWTAIL HOT: While no boats had been on as of Wednesday after the storm moved through, the bite for the San Diego half-day fleet on smaller-grade yellowtail had continued excellent right up until the storm.
On Monday, the Daily Double out of Point Loma Sportfishing had 13 anglers on its morning half-day and they landed 65 yellowtail. Sunday’s trip with 11 anglers returned with 51 yellowtail.
Also on Monday, the Dolphin out of Fisherman’s Landing had 75 anglers on its packed morning half-day, and they landed 146 yellowtail, one halibut, and one sculpin. The afternoon trip with 42 anglers returned with 61 yellowtail. On Sunday, the afternoon trip with 33 anglers came home with 121 yellowtail.
The New Seaforth out of Seaforth Sportfishing had 52 anglers on its Monday afternoon half-day, and they landed 199 yellowtail and one sand bass. The morning trip with 42 anglers returned with 201 yellowtail. On the Sunday afternoon trip, the 47 anglers returned home with 235 yellowtail (that’s full limits) and a sand bass.
MEXICAN ROCKFISH: A few San Diego landing boats will continue to make runs into Mexican waters where there is no rockfish closure. This past weekend, the Pacific Queen out of Fisherman’s Landing shot south for its 1 1/2-day trip that returned to dock on Sunday. The 30 anglers on board ended up with 120 bonito, 75 rockfish, 66 red snapper, and one yellowtail.
NEARSHORE UPDATE: With the rockfish season closure in affect, the local half- and three-quarter day boats along the Los Angeles and Orange County coastline are focusing on bass and sculpin, and the action has been surprisingly good — both before and after this week’s big storm moved through.
One of the only boats that ventured out Wednesday while things were still settling down was the Spitfire out of Marina del Rey Sportfishing. With just 10 anglers on its three-quarter day trip, they caught 20 keeper sand bass, 12 sculpin, 10 perch, and five keeper calico bass. Before the storm, the New Del Mar ran a half-day trip on Sunday afternoon, and the 51 anglers landed 255 sculpin, 83 perch, 12 sand bass, four calico bass, and one triggerfish.
At Davey’s Locker, the Western Pride was out on Monday with 17 anglers and they landed 170 perch, 85 sculpin, 10 sand dabs, and two sand bass.
NORTHERN LANDINGS: The landings from the Ventura and Santa Barbara region and the landings in the Morro Bay and Avila Beach region are pretty much closed down during the closed rockfish season.