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October 28, 2003

Trout: They're in the spotlight this week at Corona Lake, Santa Ana River Lakes and Irvine Lake, all of which have opened after heavy plants of mostly rainbows but also browns, brookies, cutthroats and -- at the first two -- a small number of designer "Lightning Trout" from Mt. Lassen Trout Farms. The good news for anglers is that some of the stocked trout weigh as much as 15 pounds. The bad news: The heat wave has left them, by and large, in deep water and somewhat sluggish. Early arrival is key. Local sleepers: Angler's Lake in Hemet and Hesperia Lake. Branching out, Big Bear Lake, Green Valley Lake and Gregory Lake are fair for those seeking mostly smaller trout (Dave Hurley, Big Bear, caught a 5-8 on Crave Nitro). The top spots for traveling Southland anglers are from Big Pine to Bridgeport in the Eastern Sierra, where lively rainbows and browns continue to attack bait, lures and flies. Barbara Davison, Huntington Beach, landed a 5-pound brown at Upper Twin in Bridgeport. Upper and Lower Twin remain the popular choice for those seeking late-season browns. Of note: The general season in Inyo County closes Friday night. Mono County's season runs through Nov. 15.

Largemouth bass: Diamond Valley Lake remains a popular spot and is among the more productive fisheries at this slow time for bass. The fish are deep and being caught mostly by those drop-shotting plastic worms. The bigger fish have remained elusive. Silverwood, Perris, Casitas, Irvine and Laguna Niguel lakes are fair, and the latter produced a 7 1/2-pounder for Larry Bouldin, Huntington Beach. In the Bakersfield area, Lake Isabella is producing steady catches of bass to about 6 pounds, and nearby Success Lakes and Kaweah Lake are red-hot for smaller fish, as those using crankbaits early are releasing as many as 50 per day. In the San Diego area, San Vicente and Poway are the top locations, with fish to about 6 pounds.

Catfish: This is the predominant species of late summer and fall and impressive catches are being made. At Lake Casitas in Ventura County, Wayne Long of Altadena landed cats weighing 41, 15 and 12 pounds while using mackerel. Cachuma, Isabella, Skinner, San Vicente, Buena Vista and Hesperia lakes are still yielding lots of pan-sized and some bigger fish. At Skinner in Riverside County, Mitch Blanda, Crestline, had five cats totaling 41 pounds, including a 13-pounder. Santa Ana River Lakes and Corona Lake, despite their emphasis on trout, are producing catfish to 15 pounds. At Cachuma in Santa Barbara County, David Ellum, Simi Valley, landed cats weighing 19 and 9 pounds. At Piru in Ventura County, Eddi Dombrown, Redondo Beach, landed a 23-pounder.

Panfish: Isabella anglers are scoring as many as 100 crappie a day -- keeping their largest 25 for their limits -- using minnows and mini-jigs. Perris is fair for bluegill and Henshaw is good for crappie and bluegill.

Striped bass: Silverwood's striper bite is slowly improving and the typically fantastic fall surface bite might be close at hand. Meanwhile, smaller fish remain the most active and anchovies fished deep remain the best method. At Castaic in Los Angeles County, stripers are splitting time between the surface and 100 feet, busting shad (and top-water lures) on the surface and eating anchovies and sardines fished in deep water. Top striper was a 9.4-pounder by Hector Perez, San Fernando, on a sardine at 100 feet. Scott Smith, Valencia, caught a 9-pounder at the dam. At nearby Pyramid Lake, action remains steady for mostly smaller fish, which are boiling at the surface at times but for the most part staying deep and biting on anchovies. Lake Skinner in Riverside County produced a 13-pounder for Daniel Bornkamp, Riverside.


Yellowfin: Off Santa Cruz, the hot news that has anglers abuzz this week is that commercial squid boats in the Channel Islands, mostly south of Santa Cruz on the backside, have netted yellowfin tuna and giant squid in their sets. The tuna and squid are at the northern end of a 40-mile long plume of warm water (69 to 72 degrees) that has filtered up the coast. The question simply is whether or not any sportboats will try to find these fish for local anglers.

Yellowtail: The yellowtail that have been massing off Oceanside and San Diego the past couple of weeks deserted the near-shore kelp with a change in water conditions, but these 3-0- to 8-0-class fish are being taken in excellent numbers at the Nine Mile Bank just off the Coronado Islands. The half-day boats from Seaforth Landing are getting a shot of these yellows along with a lot of skipjack and bonito. These are fun, full-sack trips. The three-quarter day boats are seeing limit-style yellowtail fishing. The Mission Bell on Tuesday had 36 anglers with 147 yellowtail, one yellowfin tuna, and a lot of skippies.

Albacore: There are still some residual pockets of albacore off San Diego for the 1 1/2-day fleet, but so few boats are bothering, the action has been inconsistent. Fish are mostly south of the Cortez on the Worm Bank. But because of the distance, the bite is very weather sensitive. Because so few boats are going out, it's hard to keep track of the fish too.

Halibut: Fall halibut action is picking up in the Santa Monica Bay with better counts each week. The New Del Mar had six halibut on Tuesday on its two half-day runs. This is mixed in with limits or near-limits of sculpin and a few calico and sand bass.

Calico bass: With the clearing water at Catalina Island, the calico bass bite has been very good and the bonito have also moved around the island in big numbers.

Rockfish: Bite all along the coast, from Santa Barbara to San Diego, has been good to excellent. Many one-half to full-day boats are getting limits on the cod and sculpin.

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