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Central CA Freshwater

Rains pelting Central Coast

Santa Margarita and Lopez giving up some quality bass amid scratchy bite

BY BLAKE WARREN/WON Staff Writer Published: Jan 16, 2019

Light fishing pressure at Nacimiento,
San Antonio, but rivers bringing inflow of water into both lakes

SANTA MARGARITA — The Central Coast region has been getting more than its fair share of rain in recent weeks, with plenty more expected here in the near future. That has kept the majority of anglers off the water for the better part of the young year thus far, though there are still some opportunities out there to get bit during brief weather windows, as both Santa Margarita and Lopez lakes continue to give up some solid quality to reward the few anglers getting out and grinding for bites.

anglerdougriceANGLER DOUG RICE squeezed in a decent outing at Santa Margarita Lake just prior to the weekend between rains and grinded out a solid limit of largemouth working a combination of Alabama rigs and swimbaits coupled with wacky-rigged soft plastics fished in the 25-foot zone.

The rainy weather has brought one welcome facet for bassers, however, as the humidity has kept night temps a little bit toastier in the mid 40s as opposed to the 20s just a week ago, bringing a few more fish into slightly shallower haunts and making them just a little more apt to take a bait. Still, most largemouth at both Santa Margarita and Lopez continue to hold in the 15- to 25-foot zone for the most part.

Area angler Doug Rice hit Santa Margarita this past Friday with weather permitting, and while he had to grind it out, he managed to put together a pretty solid limit of largemouth capped by a 4 pounder.

“I only got five bites all day but got ’em all in the boat and got a limit,” Rice said. “I was fishing an A-rig, a swimbait and a wacky-rigged worm mostly in about 25 feet of water. There were only four boats on the lake and no shore fishermen.” Rice also added that the visibility was only about 2 feet, so look for more rains to further skew the water clarity and present some opportunities for more crankbait and swimbait bites in the days ahead.

It’s a similar story down the road at Lopez Lake, where it continues to be a quality-over-quantity bite when weather permits. The same depth zone as Santa Margarita is producing best at Lopez as well, with a decent percentage of 2 to 5 pounders showing in the catch. Darker-colored jigs have been a best bet for inducing a quality bite with the bass pretty much in wintertime crawdad-hunting mode. Slow-dragged creature baits on Texas or Carolina rigs and finesse plastics are also working for bites at Lopez.

There’s been little to no fishing at either Lake Nacimiento or San Antonio just outside of Paso Robles with the recent downpour either, but one good thing to come of the inclement weather is more water flowing into both watersheds. As of press time, the San Antonio River is flowing into the lake at 130 cfs with the lake now at just over 13 percent of capacity, while the Nacimiento River is bringing water in at 720 cfs to bring the lake up over 16 percent, said local WON source Rich Lingor. More heavy rain forecast for the coming week should only help to boost those levels moving toward February.

The few reports coming into WON between weather windows are indicating that the spotted bass at Naci are holding anywhere between 3 and 40 feet, so pick your poison between working finesse plastics on the drop-shot in shallow water or going with blade baits and spoons down deep. White bass have been elusive for the past month or so for the most part. At San Antonio catfish are a best bet, especially in spots where runoff is coming into the lake. Dipbaits and cut baits have been best with the few bassers working the lake also reporting the occasional catfish on jigging spoons. Soft plastics and smaller-profile jigs have been the top options for targeting bass at San Antone.

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