Iovino: ‘Castaic looking as good as I’ve seen it in 15 or 20 years’
CASTAIC — It hasn’t been all that difficult to notice that Castaic Lake is fishing pretty darn well thus far into 2017 by paying just about any attention at all. But when the “Doodle King,” Don Iovino utters a sentence stooped in hyperbole about a particular watershed (or anything else fishing-related for that matter), ears tend to perk up – or at least they very well should if those ears are indeed attached to the head of an angler whose objective is to catch black bass at a frequent rate.
“I haven’t seen Castaic looking this good in 15 or 20 years,” Iovino told Southern California guide Rusty Brown after the two anglers had to cancel a midweek fishing trip at the L.A. County lake due to a minor engine issue.
MIXIN’ IT UP — SoCal guide Rusty Brown put client Kyle Borgschatz of Rancho Santa Margarita on a more-than-healthy mix of largemouth and smallies this past Friday, April 14. “Doodle King” Don Iovino told Brown it was the best he has seen the L.A. County fishery look in “15 or 20 years.”
“I completely agree with him too,” Brown said. “With the water level up to maybe just 3 feet below full pool, tons of nutrients in the water and the fish quality we’re seeing now, Castaic’s going to be in good shape for the next couple years. For a while now, I’ve thought Castaic is going to become maybe the best smallmouth lake around, and we’ve been getting a lot of really nice, healthy smallies. Nothing real huge but lots of healthy 12- to 14-inch fish that are all going to be just that much bigger next year. But it’s clear to me that these smallmouth have had really good spawns these last couple years.”
To that note, Iovino said he feels that Castaic’s rebounding smallmouth fishery is currently helping to take some of the pressure off the lake’s largemouth, serving as a buffer of sorts between striped bass and largemouth, which is only allowing the bucketmouths more food, and thus, faster growth potential. Iovino said that with lots of shad and plentiful other forage, the already-robust population of 2- to 7-pound Castaic green bass should only continue to grow quickly and portend very good things (i.e. more, bigger bass) for the future of the fishery.
Brown mentioned that a couple recent cold fronts have pushed the bass a little deeper the last handful of days, where he was finding plenty of willing biters in that 14- to 20-foot zone throughout the week. And while anglers often bemoan a weather system disrupting their shallow-water bed fishing routine, this most recent development should only set the stage for another big wave of spawners to mosey up toward the banks.
“They’re definitely hanging back a bit after that colder weather but I think you’re going to see lots of fish move up with the next full moon,” Brown said.
“But if you put a gun to my head and made me pick one lake in SoCal that I’d want to be fishing, I’d pick Castaic for sure. Where else can you go right now and have a really good shot at catching 30 or 40 fish in a day with a good chance at a 5 to 7 pounder?”
Striped bass are on the other side of the ledger for the time being. Guys are finding a few jailbirds here and there in a slow-to-fair bite but the focus is on green bass at Castaic right now, at least until the shad spawn kicks into gear – which may be sooner rather than later as Brown noted quite a bit of bird activity throughout this past week. For now, lineside hunters are picking away in the Ski Arm via trolling various hard baits and throwing Alabama rigs.
Don’t forget about Castaic Lagoon either. Castaic regular and WON source John Petroski was working the Lagoon on Easter morning and racked up a good dozen largemouth in the 5- to 20-foot range with drop-shot C3 Jobus in oxblood. Football jigs have also been sticking an occasional fat bass. There are fish on beds, but Petroski said that most of his better-sized Easter fish came on outside edges.
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