Southern CA Freshwater

Santa Ana River Lakes kicks out SoCal’s biggest rainbow of season at 15 pounds

BY BLAKE WARREN/WON Staff WriterPublished: Dec 13, 2018

First lightning trout plant goes in prior to weekend

ANAHEIM — There have been quite a few trophy rainbows into the double digits at a number of lakes caught so far this Southern California trout season, but as of press time there have been none reported to date that can top the massive 15-pound rainbow that was winched out of Santa Ana River Lakes this past weekend. The huge ‘bow was hooked and netted on Saturday by angler James Leng of La Puente, who perhaps simply got the big trout to take the bait by offering up a slightly different menu option than most anglers soaking your more standard floating baits: salmon eggs. The huge trout bit at La Palma Point on Friday.

THE BIGGEST RAINBOW to hit a scale so far this trout season in Southern California, a 15 pounder that ate a salmon egg offering soaked by James Leng of La Puente who was fishing at La Palma Point at Santa Ana River Lakes this past Friday.

Leng’s monster rainbow wasn’t the only trout to best the 10-pound mark this past week in keeping with the seemingly weekly occurrence of double-digit fish coming out of SARL, as there has been at least one of the trophies to show in each of the season’s first four weekends. The other fish eclipsing the mark this week was an 11 pounder nabbed with a green Mice Tail at Sandy Beach by Alex Coomtz of Orange. Just missing the magic mark was Mario Perez of Ontario, who tricked a 9½ pounder at the Pump House with a black minijig.

While the lightning trout haven’t gone on the chew full-bore just yet, fair numbers of bright orange trout from the season’s first plant of the unique fish were checked in through the weekend, topped by the 5½-pound lightning landed by Nick Sherril of Westminster, who was soaking green PowerBait near the Boat Dock when the fish bit. Most of the catches from that first lightning trout stock have been solid models running in the 2- to 4-pound range.

But while the run on big ‘bows continued for a fourth straight weekend, the overall numbers took a bit of a dip by Sunday as the bite had tapered off some — this past weekend was definitely more about quality over quantity. Temecula angler Rachel Von Fleck hit SARL after seeing the big trout conveyor belt keep right on rolling along the last few weeks and found that the limit-style fishing that many had been enjoying was a little tougher sledding for putting 5 on a stringer.

“We showed up early Sunday ahead of the crowds,” Von Fleck said, “and got to our favorite spot, throwing everything we could at these fish. Big ones were splashing around out of reach but nothing would bite. I only saw a handful of fish caught during the morning, all mostly decent-sized lightning trout. We decided to make a switch to the other side of the lake and not even five minutes after getting there I hooked a 4.5-pound trout on a slow-jigged yellow and white Hookup Bait.”

Santa Ana River Lakes is open six days a week — closed on Thursdays for stockings each week — and every other weekend offers up 24-hour camping and fishing on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 4 p.m. the following day. The next overnight camping sessions will be held Dec. 21 and 22 with the lake being closed on Christmas Day.

LIGHTNING TROUT WERE planted at SARL this past Thursday and this 5½ pounder was among the bigger bright orange fish to come out over the weekend. Nick Sherril of Westminster caught the fish while soaking green PowerBait near the Boat Dock.

AFTER A SLOW morning on Sunday, Temecula angler Rachel Von Fleck changed up locations and landed this 4.5-pound rainbow just five minutes later on a slow-jigged yellow and white Hookup Bait.

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