BY MIKE STEVENS
PERRIS – Boating is once again available at Lake Perris, and that includes float tubes, kayaks and stand-up paddle (SUP) boards but no jet skis or other personal watercraft. Lake staffers will allow up to 200 boats to launch (not counting kayaks, float tubes, SUPs, etc). The marina is still under construction, and there are no boat rentals available. So far, boat traffic has been light, so there’s no real need to get there well before the lake opens to make sure you get on the water.
Here are some more specifics directly from lake management: Due to COVID-19 the park is open for active recreation from 7:00 a.m to 7:00 p.m. (Boats off water at 6:00 p.m.) with restrictions in place to prevent group gatherings and encourage social distancing. Restrictions include no PWC launches, no beaching of vessels, no swimming from the shoreline, swim beach parking lots closed, no picnics, umbrellas, use of tables-playgrounds, coolers on beach. Parks.ca.gov/lakeperris for more information.
LAKE ISABELLA – Fishing is still excellent for crappie, and some anglers are also running into excellent trout fishing. WON contacts most familiar with the lake that have been getting out there quite a bit lately said they are targeting deeper water near the dam and getting almost all crappie on the troll around Red’s Marina. Trout were coming in on trolled Rapalas or bait. They said the key for both species was to scan the 70- to 80-foot depth range for fish hanging 15 to 25 feet down.Crappie will also take jigs and minnows around flooded sticks, but it seems like the bulk of them have moved out into deeper environs.
Catfish action has been fair but steady for weeks for anglers using shrimp, mackerel or dip baits. Bass fishing has been improving on reaction stuff, and angler pressure on those largemouth has been light.
HEMET – At Diamond Valley Lake, bass anglers have been able to grind out decent “best 5” largemouth hauls grinding it out in shallower water with jigs or plastics. Rick Grover of Anglers Marine has been hiting DVL and recently pieced together “7 keeper bites in 8 hours for 18.76 pounds.” He also got out there with MLF pro Brent Ehrler who piled up a 22-pound bag which included an 8.31-pound football largemouth.
Hemet-based guide Mike Southerland is still managing to flycore (trolling flies on leadcore line) his way to a couple striped bass here and there, but it sounds like he’s the only one really getting into them with any consistency. Fishing has been tough overall due to a heavy algae bloom, but clearly those who put in the time and effort can still get into decent fishing.
SUMMIT VALLEY – Silverwood Lake is still not open to cars or boats, but hike-in fishing is doable. No one is putting up big numbers, partially because angler traffic has been light as a result of all this, but some walk-in fishermen are connecting with some quality, namely striped bass that are coming up and eating big topwater stuff for those making a ton of casts and grinding it out.
HESPERIA – Big catfish are being caught with several over 7 pounds hitting the scale at Hesperia Lake, and the numbers have also been good since stocking started immediately after the lake reopened, and it will continue on an every-other-week-basis. Justin Broussard stuck a 7 pounder on cut mackerel along the North Shore that helped fill out a 25-pound stringer. Recently, the lake reached maximum capacity as far as how many anglers are allowed at a time during the COVID-19 situation. The lake is open for from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.,but the fish cleaning station will be closed so plan accordingly. Catfish season started with a 1,000-pound plant on May 7, and they will continue on a bi-weekly basis. Night fishing will begin in June. Pandemic-compliant rules are as follows: social distancing and face covers are required, and visitors can only congregate with members of their household. Only two customers are allowed in the store at a time, and fishing will be limited to 200 wristbands at any given time. Inlets (fingers) are closed, and restrooms will be limited to only those with soap and water for hand washing. For the full list of rules, visit HesperiaParks.com.
APPLE VALLEY – Jess Lakes Ranch is actually featuring a decent trout bite since reopening last week, and fishing actually seems better than it was prior to the shut down. Plastics including trout worms and minijigs are leading the charge, but bait dunkers are also getting into them. Estevan McDonald and Rachael Yacobucci of Hesperia both got limits of trout on a variety of Golden State Fishing minnows on a drop-shot rig. All were quality with one reaching 3.5 pounds. The best bite is between first thing in the morning and 10 a.m. Anglers need to have face covers and social distancing is being enforced. The bait shop is not open, but if you can get nightcrawlers if you have $5 on the dot.
WINCHESTER – At Lake Skinner, bass fishing has been “ridiculously good with plenty of topwater fish to be had” according to lake staffer, Preston Morris. Everything else is on the slow side, but there are some striped bass biting cut baits again after a long layoff. Boat rentals, marina and camp store are open. Boats need to be back in by 4 p.m., and visitors are limited to 500 per day. Shore anglers can fish from the Marina all the way to the day use parking area before Ramp 2.
BAKERSFIELD – Striped bass fishing in the Aqueduct remains dependable on both artificials and cut baits such as bloodworms, sardines and anchovies. Catfish are picking up the same stuff, and live minnows are also fooling the occasional lineside. Some largemouth are starting to inhale stickbaits thrown around green stuff or any obstructions.