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Southern CA Freshwater

Strong bite, quality rainbows delighting Big Bear trouters

BY BLAKE WARREN/WON Staff WriterPublished: Jun 07, 2018

Fishing for $50K Trout Derby this weekend; Ultimate Big Fish Derby next up,
set for June 22-24

BIG BEAR LAKE — Whether fishing from boat or from shore, late-spring trout action has been solid and steady at Big Bear Lake for a few weeks running now, and thanks to numerous stocks of quality fish since March, there are good counts of meaty, 2- to 4-pound rainbows finding their way to anglers’ nets. That should all bode very well for the coming weekend’s Fishing for $50K Trout Derby, set for Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. each day.

debbiemcdonaldDEBBIE MCDONALD SCORED this nice rainbow just this past Friday at Big Bear Lake.

“Shore and boat anglers are both bringing some beautiful rod benders to the net,” said Steve Raphael at Big Bear Sporting Goods. “With water temps hovering around 60 degrees and good dissolved oxygen levels lake wide, anglers are working all areas west of Eagle Point and the Solar Observatory. Trolling from the West Launch to the S.S. Relief, about 150 to 200 feet offshore ‘leadcore liners’ are using spoons and Rapalas at 1 to 2½ colors (6 to 12 feet) with great results.

We’re seeing a lot of good fish that are, on average, weighing 2 to 4 pounds.”

The south end of the lake is also producing well on the same setups, mostly from Metcalf Bay to Papoose Bay, and Raphael offered up some insider knowledge for anglers working that particular stretch of water. “Anglers working this circuit in the early mornings are scoring by laying out a nightcrawler about 4 to 6 feet sub-surface, either flat-lining or using leadcore,” he said.

Anglers are also doing a good bit of catching from the banks, with the top producing spot being the north shore from the West Launch to the S.S. Relief. “Early morning bankies are throwing spoons — size 1 or 2 Needlefish and Kastmasters — or fly-lining nightcrawlers,” Raphael reported, who added that dough soakers are also finding their fair share of biters. “Cast out about 40 feet and fish PowerBait from the bottom up on a three-foot leader of 4-pound test or less.”

The solid bite is rolling right into this weekend’s Fishing for $50K Trout Derby, which is highlighted by five tagged trout out there swimming around that are worth $10,000 apiece if caught during the two-day event. There will also be cash awards of $500 to the first place adult male and female, $250 to second place finishers and a free entry to the 2019 derby for third.

qualityrainbowsQUALITY RAINBOWS LIKE this one are being netted both by boat and from the shoreline.

The child male and female divisions will give up a $250 savings bond for first, a $100 savings bond for second and a free entry to the 2019 derby plus a fishing rod for third place. Anglers will also receive a raffle ticket for a shot at a number of different prizes, along with a Hobie Kayak being raffled off for good measure.

Entry fees are $80 for adults and $30 for kids under 16 years of age — $20 from each entry will go to the lake’s trout fishery program. Online and phone pre-registration ends at 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 7, and there will be an in-person registration from noon to 10 p.m. on Friday.

After the $50K, the next fishing event on the lake’s docket is the Big Bear Lake Fishing Association’s June 22-24 Ultimate Big Fish Derby out of Holloway’s Marina. That event’s online registration runs until noon on Friday, June 22 but there will also be on-site registration available (3 p.m. to 7 p.m. — cash only). Look for more information on this tournament in the coming weeks leading up to the event, or log on to for more details.

Shifting gears from trout mania to the lake’s warm-water denizens, the bass bite is starting to heat up as largemouth are seemingly creeping up the water column for the annual spawn. “Local bass guys are reporting the bucketmouths stacked up under the docks near Papoose Bay’s west shore, near the mouth,” Raphael said of the latest developments. “We’re seeing behaviors indicating that the time is near. Shallow-diving crankbaits, plastics and jigs are recommended if you’re trying to pluck one of these big bass out of cover.” Anglers employing fly-lined or split-shotted ‘crawlers are also connecting with largemouth in the shallows. The panfish bite’s been essentially non-existent as of late but a few more bullheads are starting to eat nightcrawler offerings, which make for a prime, fun target for the youngsters from the shorelines.

BIG BEAR BASS — Lake regular Scott Lopez used a fly-lined ’crawler on light tackle to hook this healthy largemouth. Anglers are reporting good numbers of bucketmouths up shallow under the docks near Papoose Bay’s west shore.

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