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Conditions could be rounding into form just in time for WON/Big Bear Lake TroutfesT, Sept. 9-10
Lots of big holdover trout, heavy stocking prior to event and cooler overnight temps expected ahead may create perfect ’bow-biting storm for Troutfesters; new lake-record largemouth posted at 6½ pounds

THIS KLAMATH / SUZUKI boat and motor package is the grand ­raffle prize for the 2017 edition of TroutfesT. There are lots of ­reasons to get your entry for the event locked in now, from the plethora of big rainbows in the lake to blind bogey cash and tons of great prizes. Sign up at WONews.com by clicking on the ‘Events’ tab.




WON Staff Writer

BIG BEAR LAKE — Anyone who regularly fishes during the meat of the trout season at Big Bear Lake will tell you that it hasn’t quite been the banner summer season for the popular alpine fishery, though anglers have managed to do alright for themselves by making the necessary adjustments to the heat and conditions to creel their fair share of rainbows over the past few warm months. But with the 13th annual WON/Big Bear Lake TroutfesT right around the ­corner — just over two weeks away — things might just be looking a lot more fishy at the lake as the calendar flips to September.

Consistent warm weather into the 80s and night temps rarely falling below 50 degrees for much of the summer has kept the majority of the action limited to extremely early or as sundown approaches and into the night, but forcasts calling for overnight lows in the low 40s just ahead are boding good things for Big Bear trouters — not to mention all the big trout that weren’t caught during the summertime heat wave that are still out there swimming around. And the fact that the recent heat has kept Big Bear’s ’bows relatively lethargic for much of the last couple months might just result in a much welcomed feeding frenzy once the conditions and temperatures drop down a bit more to their liking.

“The one good thing that could come from this slower summer is those fish going on a major chew once those temps come down enough, which usually happens right around the start of September,” said Steve Raphael at Big Bear Sporting Goods. “Another bonus is that there were a lot of 8- to 12-plus-pound fish that were stocked in June for the Fishin’ for $50K Derby, and very few of them have been caught since, so they’re still out there to be hooked. While it’s been tough at times during this long, hot summer, these guys will be veracious when things finally get right for ’em.”

To further beef up the possibilities, another hefty load of Lassen rainbows is set to arrive to kick off September.

“We’re going to be doing a big late-season stock,” Mike Stephenson of the Big Bear Municipal Water District told WON a week ago. “Anglers coming up in September can expect that there will be north of maybe 5,000 pounds stocked approximately a week or so before TroutfesT.”

And if Mother Nature happens to cooperate accordingly, all those heavyweights that have been slothily crusing around down deep and expending the minimum amount of effort feeding the past 12-or-so weeks could look to start stuffing their guts in a big way once lake conditions roll right into their wheelhouse.

“Once it hits September is when things usually start to pick up anyway, so if these fish get the right conditions around then it could really get good,” Raphael said.

It’s almost unquestioned that there will be a run on big trout at some point over the next six weeks — it’s just the matter of timing it right and having everything fall into place. Classic fishing wisdom... mixed with a bit of good fortune too, of course.

When the calendar does flip to September’s page, Raphael offered up a few local tactics and some insight into tying into some of those hungry late-summer ’bows.

NEW KING IN TOWN — Randy Sherrick was working a green pumpkin football jig near the Observatory at Big Bear Lake recently when he tied into this meaty chunk at 6.52 pounds to establish a new lake record largemouth bass. The previous record had stood since Oct. 8, 2008 at 5.9 pounds.

“One little trick we use up here is using these Seps Mini Micro Flashers and Little Warrior Glow Spoons the guys use out on the Great Lakes,” he relayed. “When you charge ’em up, they give off about a three-hour glow that always seem to draw more strikes. And with water clarity not being all that great this season, they only ought to help more. The best ways to fish ’em are with Needlefish on a short leader or on a wedding ring and ’crawler setup. And of course, ’crawlers on a slip-bobber rig are always a good option too.”

In the meantime, Big Bear anglers had better continue to rely on their alarm clocks for the time being, as the morning bite is up and running at around 4 a.m. and generally tapering off by 7:30 or so before picking back up around 6 in the evening, Raphael noted. The evening bite is currently yielding the better catching of the two windows.

Shore fishers fly-lining nightcrawlers near the boulders by the dam has been producing for late-session anglers, producing pretty reliable counts of 3- to 5-pound rainbows — most of those fish are being released too, Raphael added, so that’s just another plus for anglers hitting the lake over the next few weeks. Dough baits soaked on 3- to 4-foot leaders along the north shore are also producing decently.

The key for those wetting lines from boats has been trolling suuuper slow, or simply drifting with the wind. If you’re moving at a pace of more than 1.5 mph, you’re definitely going too fast to maximum your success at the moment. Making a bee line right down the middle of the lake has also been a key to gilling up a stringer. The stretches from either Gilner Point to the buoy line by the dam or from Papoose Bay to the buoy line are giving up some solid catches.

“Just stay to the west end of the lake right now,” Raphael urged. “That’s where the cooler water is at. Stay west of Big Bear Marina if you’re hoping for a limit right now.” Needlefish tipped with nightcrawlers or live worms drifted on slip-bobber setups have been top recent producers. Water temps have come down at the west end of the lake from 72 to 69.5 degrees in the last couple weeks, and area anglers only hope that’s a trend that continues into next month.

Stepping out of the trout fishing world for just a moment, one extremely notable mention must be made for what now stands as the new largemouth bass record at the lake, after Randy Sherrick of Apple Valley suckered a 6.52-pound bucketmouth with a green pumpkin football jig near the Observatory. The 6½ pounder bested the prior lake record by over a half-pound, a 5.9-pound largie caught in early October of 2008.

Entries for TroutfesT are currently being taken at WONews.com (click on the Events tab), or by calling tournament director Billy Egan at (949) 366-0248. With a 16-foot Klamath/Suzuki motor grand raffle prize up for grabs, along with plenty of blind bogey cash, Big Fish prizes and a lake full of big ’bows swimming around, there are more than enough reasons to head “up the hill” come the second weekend of September.



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