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Southern CA Freshwater

Lake Nacimiento bass best in afternoons during continued late-fall transition

BY BLAKE WARREN/WON Staff WriterPublished: Nov 29, 2018

BRADLEY — Some weather rolled through the Central Coast this past week, further pushing the bass at area lakes into more of a cold-water, late-fall transition period with more fish slinking out to offshore structure spots. With water temps now generally bouncing between 58 and 62 degrees, Lake Nacimiento's spotted bass are doing just that, with not a whole lot of reasons to get out to the lake super early before the fish start to actively look for some lunch.

“Things are definitely starting to change quite a bit up here and I'd say it's best just to not go out 'til around noon,” suggested lake regular Rich Lingor. “You can still find some biting fish in the afternoons even though you might have to look around a little harder for 'em. It's been slow with these colder mornings. Most of the bass are more offshore, but you can find some spots of shad up on wind-blown banks in the afternoon where you'll usually find some fish of course, too.”


workingjigs2WORKING JIGS IN 5 to 10 feet of water on rocky banks did the trick at Santa Margarita Lake for Doug Rice, who also managed a few solid crappie in about 14 feet.

Most of the spotted bass being caught of late are taking drop-shotted soft plastics in shad colors or spoons in the 10- to 25-foot range, unless finding a school pushing threadfin to the banks with the help of a little wind later in the day – the sunny side of the lake has been most productive. There wasn't much word on white bass this past week, but Lingor did note that he saw a handful of whites in the cleaning buckets running 1 to 1½ pounds.

“I was also getting some decent crappie, bluegill and redear targeting bass with spoons in those same depths,” Lingor added, “so I would imagine anybody going out there and targeting the panfish with minijigs or live worms in those areas would able to get 'em okay.”

While more rain is expected this coming week, Naci's water level has now dropped enough to expose most of the slightly submerged navigation hazards that have been troublesome in recent weeks, and launching is still good at the auxiliary ramp. Water temps at the lake are mostly hovering between 58 and 62 degrees.

Light visitor and angler traffic has been the deal at neighboring Lake San Antonio with the recent inclement weather and the holiday weekend, with the few fisherfolk getting out and wetting lines still focusing on catfish with an array of dipbaits, stinkbaits and cut baits in the 15- to 30-foot depths continuing to find their quarry. The one major positive trickle of info to come from San Antone lately has been an unconfirmed report of a 30-pound striper taken at the lake, which would be the first such catch (if legit) of a quality striped bass from the fishery since a significant algae bloom in the early spring.

Down the road at Lopez and Santa Margarita lakes things are shifting gears a bit too. There are still some nice quality Lopez bass taking baits offered by diligent anglers working mostly finesse stuff: drop-shotted and split-shotted worms along with slowly-worked, smaller-profile jigs and creature baits. The bass at Lopez have also started to drift a little farther offshore and are hunkering down more with the shift in weather conditions, so look a little deeper for biters there now too.

Santa Margarita is producing decently enough, though mostly smaller largemouth in the 1- to 2-pound range with the occasional larger model mixed in. It's been more of a struggle lately with reaction baits, with cranks and A-rigs being good enough options, though soft plastics and jigs are the current most consistently-producing way to go at the moment.

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