South Freshwater

Updated September 8, 2020

AQUEDUCT (NEAR BAKERSFIELD) – The bite has been good for both striped bass and catfish, with the best of it occurring in the early mornings and late evenings if not overnight. The way the weather has been, that’s the most comfortable option anyway. Cut baits including sardines and anchovies are working for both, and Triple S Bait has been working for guys looking to specifically target catfish, since that’s where the better quality is. Cats to over 10 pounds are being caught, with the stripers mostly in the 2- to 4-pound range.

BARRETT RESERVOIR – It’s been a little bit of everything getting some play here: topwater, primarily with buzzbaits and walking baits, a decent reaction bite on blade baits and chatterbaits and the usual suspect soft plastics also getting bit. The lake remains shore fishing, kayaks and float tubes only with no boat rentals available due to COVID-19 protocols.

BIG BEAR LAKE – The trout fishing remains slow going for most anglers getting out, with most catches being early and late on the troll with spoons or plugs. Drifting dough baits or ‘crawlers is also getting a rainbow here and there but overall trout numbers have been down and few anglers are having a ton of success from the banks at the moment either other than just one here, one there. Anglers opting to target bass instead are finding a fair share of biters on mostly drop-shots, shaky heads and Senkos along with the occasional crankbait fish early.

BUENA VISTA LAKES – Small catfish, bluegill and crappie have been on a fair but consistent bite. Worms appropriately sized for each are your best bet. Some bass are biting tight to shoreline cover where flipping and pitching will get them along with the occasional Texas rigged just outside of tule lines and even topwater early and late.

CACHUMA LAKE – The bass bite is pretty steady overall with some good shots at topwater fish early and late along with underspins, crankbaits and chatterbaits finding some biters during the same windows. Otherwise it’s been working drop-shot plastics or Ned worms out deeper in 22 to 30 feet during the meat of the day, along with wacky-rigged Senkos. Numbers have been good. Some smallies are also taking Ned rigs, drop-shot Robos and small swimbaits slow rolled along the bottom. Anglers targeting crappie are still putting together some good days with 20 to 30 slabs a day within reach — white and chartreuse 1/8-ounce minijigs have been tough to beat. Catfish are active and chewing well enough, primarily on garlic ‘crawlers and mackerel chunks. Bluegill are showing decently as well as a fourth option on live worms and small spinners or minijigs.

CAHUILLA LAKE – Slow fishing continues, in fact, it’s even slower now that this intense heat is keeping anglers away. Nightcrawlers are an angler’s best bet as they are the top local bait for catfish, but everything in there eats them.

CASITAS LAKE – Continued fair and steady summer bass numbers and the quality has been good with more than a fair share of 3- to 5-pound fish showing. There’s been a good topwater bite in the mornings over brush lines before the bass slink out to deeper water, where they are still biting fairly well in 20 to 30 feet on a mix of drop-shot and shaky head plastics, Senkos, Ikas and Ned worms throughout the day — there have been some fish up shallow early, however. Holdover trout are still available way down deep, mostly in 40 to 50 feet near the dam, on Needlefish set up on downriggers, and bluegill and redear continue to be readily available at various spots and docks around the lake on mealworms, redworms and small to medium nightcrawlers.

CASTAIC LAKE – The bass bite has been good overall since the lake reopened Aug. 30 after a nearly 3-week closure due to nearby fires. There’s some good topwater opportunity early with spots of boiling largemouth, along with a decent reaction bite on hard and soft jerkbaits in shad colors. The reaction bite is generally petering out by around 10 a.m. or so, so get there early. Once the sun pops out, switch to Senkos or finesse plastics and go deeper. Striper fishing is just fair but anglers are starting to see more boils early and late in the day. Center Point up to Kong Island has been a good stretch to look. Anglers fly-coring or trolling spoons or deep-divers are also getting a few fish to 7 pounds. Best bet for catfish is soaking sardines and anchovies, while bluegill are eating waxworms and mealworms.

CUYAMACA LAKE – The trout fishing continues to be slow going, especially so the last two or three weeks with day temps touching triple digits. Just an occasional rainbow is making an appearance, mostly coming from out in deeper water first thing in the morning. Standard dough baits and nightcrawlers soaked down deep have been best for a fish or two. However, warm-water species have been showing pretty well, mostly panfish coming on live worms and jigs fished on submerged vegetation. There have also been some smaller catfish taking cut baits for those targeting the whiskerfish. Some quality bass are showing up here and there on a variety of baits with a few topwater fish being reported early and late.

DIAMOND VALLEY LAKE – It’s been crazy hot out there, but there is a decent multi-species bite going on if you can power thought it. Texas rigs and dropshots are picking up bass in the 2- to 5-pound range in 30 to 50 feet of water, and that depth zone found off the West Dam has been especially productive. Striped bass have activated with the existing trolled-fly bite still going strong, but there have also been decent numbers of Fluke fish caught in the mornings. Bluegill are biting in double-digit numbers per angler for those dropping worms on them in 20 to 30 feet of water off any of the dams.

DIXON LAKE – Some largemouth are being caught on smaller topwater stuff in open water, or on drop-shots along grass lines and along the tules between Catfish Cove and Jack Creek Cove. They’ll also eat fly-lined Senkos around the tules. Anglers tossing small worms off the Piers are getting into a fair bluegill bite.  The last catfish stock of the season was a 1,000-pound delivery on Aug. 14. Those fish are still being caught in Boat Dock Cove, around the Buoy Line and near the Piers, primarily on cut mackerel. They should remain a worthy bite right up to the kick off of trout season that usually lands in mid November.

EL CAPITAN RESERVOIR – There’s some decent topwater action to be had here on a mix of frogs, Whopper Ploppers, Spooks, Super Spooks and the occasional buzzbait, though the fish have mostly moved out of the far north end — the main lake is fishing better at the moment. Weightless and weedless soft jerkbaits are another solid option for working the top of the water column. There’s a decent shallow Senko bite it the trees and brush piles and also some steady fishing with Senkos and 6- and 7-inch drop-shot and Texas-rigged worms in 10 to 20 feet. A few quality biters are also taking green pumpkin jigs.

ELSINORE LAKE – As you’ve noticed, it got quite hot again, and that keeps anglers at home and fishing reports sporadic. There were some small bass and catfish caught on the North End of the lake and close to shore, but there needs to be a solid cool down to get some real intel out of the place.

GREGORY LAKE – The lake hasn’t been stocked in months, and fishing remains very slow.

HEMET LAKE – Catfish, bass and bluegill are the best targets right now. Standard mackerel or scented nightcrawlers are tops for cats, drop-shots and stickbaits for bass and pieces of nightcrawler under a bobber for the panfish. Trout haven’t been stocked in several months.

HENSHAW LAKE – Like most of Southern California, the heat wave has kept angler pressure very low, so, reports were very limited. Prior to the arrival of the pressure cooker, there was a fair catfish bite on nightcrawlers, mackerel, shrimp and Magic Bait. Crappie have been slow, and that should remain the case until well into fall if not spring 2021.

HESPERIA LAKE – Catfish were stocked on Aug. 27 and Sept. 3 (1,000 pounds each) and you can count on that level of weekly stocking until trout take over in late fall. The North Shore, Grassy Bank and Sandy Point are hot spots, and cats to 10 pounds are being caught along with plenty of limits. Garlic shrimp, garlic mackerel and nightcrawlers are all producing. One angler bagged 10 catfish for an 85-pound limit on shrimp at the Finger. A 10 pounder was caught on Hog Wild dipbait near Grassy Bank.

HODGES RESERVOIR – The bass bite remains pretty steady with a fair share of quality fish going 5 pounds or better showing. There’s been a pretty good reaction bite early and late with a mix of spinnerbaits, chatterbaits and squarebill cranks. Watermelon / black flake Senkos and purple and black drop-shot plastics continue to produce consistently down deeper, as the fish have gone down the water column a bit with the recent heat wave, according to staffers. The Narrows and the area near the new aeration system in the Del Dios Arm have been most productive. Some quality catfish continue to be taken on mackerel toward the Narrows and near the pumpstation, while nightcrawlers are accounting for steady bluegill numbers around the docks and tules. Lots of carp to target for bow fishermen at the end of the Narrows toward the freeway. Tilapia are biting pretty well on ‘crawlers in the Del Dios Arm.

IRVINE LAKE – No report available.

ISABELLA LAKE – An 11-pound largemouth was caught on a spinnerbait in the pea-soup water. Yea, the algae is still an issue, but there are fish to be caught. Blades and smaller swimbaits have been getting some decent numbers of anglers that put the time in. Crappie have slowed but some are still being caught in deeper areas off Rocky Point and Camp 9. Shad, clams, sardines and shrimp are all working for catfish, and that bite is best overnight.

JENNINGS LAKE – Catfish are still biting fairly well on a combination of mackerel, shrimp, garlic ‘crawlers and stink baits. The bass bite is just so-so at the moment, with watermelon Senkos and drop-shot plastics working along with the occasional Ika. Panfish are available and biting pretty well on mealworms and waxworms along with smaller nightcrawlers. Night fishing is on the schedule for the rest of the summer every Friday from 3 p.m. to midnight — private boat launch during night fishing is not permitted, however.

JESS RANCH LAKES – Slow on both lakes with only a few trout coming in early in the mornings for PowerBait dunkers. Bass (to 5 pounds according to staffers at “The Ranch”) are a better target, and Senkos or blades are best for them. There are some bluegill to be caught close to shore on small worms under a bobber.

KERN RIVER – An angler would be hard pressed to find better fishing anywhere in this region, but the weekends are drawing huge crowds from the non-angling, tube floating public. Worms, eggs, crickets or small spinners or trout jigs ticked along the bottom in areas away from people (if possible) are drawing strikes from stocked rainbows.

LOPEZ LAKE – Bass fishing has been better the last week or two, with a number of anglers reporting 20-plus fish days of late. It’s been a little bit of everything getting the job done: early topwater is scoring some bites and there’s a fair-to-good reaction bite until mid-morning with a mix of spinnerbaits, underspins and shad-pattern cranks. The worm bite has also been fairly consistent in 15 to 25 feet with darker worms being most effective. Jigs are also getting some quality fish in the 3- to 5-pound range.

LOWER OTAY RESERVOIR – Bass fishing is pretty solid here and the water level is in good shape, allowing for a number of different techniques that are proving effective. The frog bite has picked up some early and late, and there have also been some school fish hitting topwater walking baits in both main lake arms as well. Senkos and Flukes tossed tight to the tules early and late have also been working well along with some early fish on blade baits and shallow to mid-range cranks. During the daytime the worm bite’s been a little slower going offshore but anglers are still picking away at biters down deeper with the soft stickbaits and drop-shots plastics along with Ned worms.

MIRAMAR RESERVOIR – Watermelon/black flake Seknos have emerged as a hot bait in recent days along with darker drop-shot Roboworms — bigger Senkos are scoring some bigger bites. Staffers report a recent hot spot for both bass and bluegill has been off the dock at the 3 Mile Post. Catfish are best near the dam with cut mackerel.

MORENA LAKE – No report available.

MURRAY RESERVOIR – Some bigger catfish are showing on cut mackerel in deeper water near the dam but the bass bite has slowed some in recent days, according to staffers. Best bet is hitting the lake first thing in the morning. Fewer topwater opportunities but still a few surface fish here and there. Best bet is slow working drop-shot or Texas rigged plastics along with slow-falling Senkos. Bluegill are still biting pretty well around the docks and tules on mealworms, redworms, waxworms and medium nightcrawlers.

NACIMIENTO LAKE –  The topwater bite remains good for spotted bass through much of the morning – cover water and find a spot of biters. There are also bigger fish down as deep as 35 feet that are taking jigs and creatures. Essentially it’s catch ’em however you want to, as they’re not being too particular. White bass have been constantly on the move and more of a right time, right place deal – some white bass are being found on the meter and spooned up from 20 to 25 feet as well. There continues to be morning windows of active feeders (spots) where topwater has been working for good numbers on the surface, and there’s also been consistent action for anglers working drop-shot and shaky head worms in 12 to 20 feet along with Ned rigs and spider jigs.

PERRIS LAKE – Weekends are so packed you might not want to bother unless you can line up with the rest of the cattle at the crack of dawn. Every weekend is reaching boater capacity and people are being turned around at the gate. Weekdays are OK though! Fishing, however, has slowed. There are still decent numbers of smaller bass to be found in 30 (give or take) feet of water for drop-shotters.

PIRU LAKE – The lake is back open and fishing pretty decently for both bass and crappie. Fairly good topwater bite on walking baits and buzzbaits along with shad-pattern cranks early but the better fish are coming from down deeper in 20 to 30 feet of earthtone jigs and watermelon Senkos. Dartheads are also getting some play and bass anglers are also reporting a few crappie on the crankbaits here and there, while the few targeting the panfish are doing okay with lighter colored minijigs and grubs. Both shore fishing and boating are permitted, however, personal watercraft will only be allowed on weekdays only for the time being.

POWAY LAKE – Night fishing came to an end on Friday, Sept. 5, but there are still plenty of stocker channel cats to be caught. The final catfish plant of the season went in Aug. 28. Cut mackerel fly-lined (or with very little weight) has been the best tactic all over the lake, but the Log Boom has been the most productive area. Poway Lake is well known to produce catfish well into trout season, so you never really need to put that gear away. When in doubt, rent a boat and pepper the Log Boom with cut macks.

PUDDINGSTONE LAKE – The bass bite has grown more sporadic, and the heat could have something to do with it. It’s definitely limiting the angler pressure. Fish are scattered all over the water column and not in very dense groups. If you can graph them, send down a Fluke or underspin at suspending fish, or drag a 7-inch worm on a Texas rig slowly along the bottom.

PYRAMID LAKE – Less algae now in the lake but lots of grass, according to recent reports. Anglers are catching bass from the surface down to 30 feet on a mix of topwater early and late along with weedless Flukes fished along and above the grasslines, while drop-shots, Senkos and Ned rigs are producing most consistently throughout the day. Striper boils have died down some in recent days but there are still a few cropping up along the canal and around Yellowbar early. A few anglers are catching stripers on the troll with umbrella rigs and deeper-diving jerkbaits, while bait anglers are picking off a few linesides with cut baits. Catfish are still biting pretty well in numerous coves throughout the lake on cut baits as well.

SAN ANTONIO LAKE – Best bet here continues to be breaking out the light tackle for panfish, as both bluegill and crappie are biting and showing in good numbers for both boaters and bankies. It’s been a mix of minijigs, mealworms, redworms and smaller nightcrawlers getting the job done. A few catfish are showing for those targeting them with garlic-scented cut baits, but bass remain on the slower side with just a handful of smaller models falling for finesse plastics. Lake hours are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

SANTA ANA RIVER LAKES – Biggest news here was the catch of a 42-pound catfish early in the week from the Big Lake. The lakes once again received a double stock of quality catfish and tilapia this past week. Mackerel and shrimp remain tops on the bait front and adding scent hasn’t hurt anglers chances either. Both the Big Lake and the Catfish Lake continue to produce fairly steadily for the cats, and tilapia are biting best in the afternoons on nightcrawlers. SARL offers overnight fishing/camping sessions on Friday and Saturday nights.

SANTA MARGARITA LAKE – Continued slower bass fishing here again this past week and numerous angler reports paint lake conditions as “pea soup” with a decent algae bloom still going.  That’s kept fishing pressure down lately and the few bass catches being reported are mostly coming on slow worked drop-shot worms, jigs and Ned rigs out in deeper water. Very little reaction bite of late, according to most reports. Quite a few catfish are being caught on cut baits lately — no giants but some good cats in the double digits. Bluegill are on mealworms soaked about 10 to 15 feet off the banks.

SANTEE LAKES – Lakes 4 and 7 split 1,000 pounds of catfish early this week and the mega stock event (Stockzilla) is set for Oct. 3-4. Mackerel, shrimp and dip baits have been getting the job done well for the cats. Bass are fishing best in Lakes 1 and 5 on a variety of soft plastics, with Flukes being very good options as of late. Bluegill are biting well in numerous lakes around docks, shade pockets and submerged vegetation on mealworms and waxworms. The annual trout opener was announced for Nov. 7-8, with the fish supplier and season stocking dates TBA.

SAN VICENTE RESERVOIR – Bass have really returned to corralling and picking off silversides in open water. It starts around 8 a.m. and lasts the rest of the day. Those fish can be targeted with A-rigs, Flukes and poppers. The drop-shot bite is still there, too, with most biters comign in 30 to 40 feet of water in the main lake area. Big bluegill are showing up in the Toll Road arm where they’re being caught on pieces of nightcrawlers or whole redworms on a drop-shot rig.

SILVERWOOD LAKE – Striped bass fishing is still consistent with most anglers targeting them with nightcrawlers or sardines able to put a few on a stringer if not a limit. The area around the Marina Dock and the dam have been productive, and some guys are running into them closer to the surface in the lake’s main channel. Trolled Alabama rigs or jigged spoons are also gettign a few. Catfish are also biting in the same areas on the same baits along with chicken livers (Which will also occasionally get picked up by a striper. Look for panfish in the coves off the main channel and around the dock.

SKINNER LAKE – Emerging as a late-summer mixed bag spot with largemouth, striped bass, catfish and panfish all biting. For stripers, it’s the dam and inlet with chicken livers of all things. Catfish will eat those or sardines in the same areas as well as Catfish Alley and in most coves, and largemouth are on a fair pick for anglers using finesse worms, small swimbaits and underspins and the occasional hard jerkbait in open water. Boaters are getting into a lot of big bluegill in relatively deep water and attacking them vertically with crickets, small worms or jigs.

SUTHERLAND RESERVOIR – The bite’s hit and miss and extremely location-oriented at the moment. Angler reports suggest the bite’s as decent from the bank as it is from a boat and locating the right rock or rock piles has been the key to getting bit of late. It’s been mostly jigs, Senkos and drop-shots but there’s also been the occasional topwater fish in isolated areas.

WOHLFORD LAKE – Catfish are biting all over the lake for anglers using mackerel, chicken livers or shrimp. Wohlford is done stocking catfish for the season with the last delivery arriving July 31. Cats typically bite right through the beginning of trout season which usually kicks off sometime in the middle of December. As of Labor Day, the lake went to a weekends-only schedule until returning to open every day when trout arrive sometime in December.