Big Bear Lake: Fall trout bite in full swing

Plenty of limits coming out with lunker rainbows in the mix


BIG BEAR LAKE — Living up to its reputation as a fantastic October trout fishery, Big Bear Lake is indeed giving up the spoils in the current bite. The fishing’s been nothing short of splendid for those in the know and taking advantage since the calendar page flipped to October, with a good number of limits coming out of the lake along with trophy-caliber rainbows courtesy of both trollers and shoreline anglers, though boaters are getting the best of the current trout action.

SARA STAHL FROM Lemon Grove stuck this 5-pound rainbow while fishing with her 4-year-old son and Capt. Rabago.

“Thanks to lake temperatures dropping, the multiple fish plants and our most recent load being dumped for the WON/Big Bear Lake TroutfesT, the trout have been on a tear,” said Capt. Sean Rabago at Fish Big Bear Charter Service. “There’s a ton of them out there, and boy are they big!

“I like to start with a buffet of sorts right now,” he continued, “meaning fishing multiple colors and different-style lures. Stagger your depths until you find a consistent bite. Fishing Rapalas on top and trolling various Needlefish on leadcore at one to two colors are producing fish — fish them bright, fish them dark and fish them shiny. Never a bad idea to drift a ’crawler back there either. Now is time to get up here and take advantage of what Big Bear Lake has to offer this time of year with a few good weeks left for us on the troll.”

Rabago added that numerous stretches of water are producing well in the current bite, including from just west of the Observatory down to Juniper Point, out in front of Lagunita, from the West Ramp down to the S.S. Relief and the Zebra Room through Papoose Bay. “It’s easy to see a cluster of boats all in the same area and think, ‘That must be where the fish are biting,’ but that’s not always the case,” Rabago told WON. “The east end of the lake has been most rewarding lately, but sometimes it’s a good idea to leave the crowd behind and search for a spot that’s holding the big, hungry ones without any pressure, so don’t be afraid to head west, especially if the winds and weeds are up.”

IN-N-OUT TROUT — A District Manager for In-N-Out Burger in Nevada, Mike caught this nice Big Bear ‘bow on the troll while fishing with Capt. Rabago of Fish Big Bear Charter Service.

Boating season at Big Bear Lake is in its final stretch now, with most of its private marinas remaining open for business until mid-November (weather dependent) and the East Public Launch Ramp is expected to remain open through the end of next month, so now is definitely the prime time for anglers to get their last licks in on the troll with plenty of biting fish and solid trouting conditions.

Shoreline anglers are also putting together some nice stingers along the north shore and near the dam. Rainbow, salmon peach, green garlic and yellow garlic PowerBait on Carolina rigs with 2- to 3½-foot leaders have been doing the trick, along with slip-bobbered ’crawlers rigged for depths of 5 to 12 feet. Both the north and south shores on each side of the dam are giving up some solid rainbows in the early mornings on minijigs and dough baits. However, the biggest shore-caught rainbow was a 9.4 pounder caught on garlic PowerBait at Juniper Point by Luke Fortune.

Now is certainly a good time to make the trek up the hill for some great fall fishing at Big Bear.

DOUBLE-DIGIT DANDY for Capt. Rabago of Fish Big Bear Charter Service landed Oct. 17 on the troll. The big rainbow went an impressive 10.1 pounds to highlight a nice run on big trout at Big Bear Lake.

•   •   •   •   •

We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.