SILVERADO — The huge blue catfish that lurk in the depths of Irvine Lake just couldn’t wait for the scheduled June 8 Catfish Opener, and went on a biting spree last week that felt just like summer. “The big blue catfish have been very active,” reported Jimmy Getty in the Pro Shop. “With the clear conditions and water temp in the mid-60s, they have been up in the shallows chasing the bass and bluegill. We are also seeing a sharp upswing in the number of channel catfish being checked in; the fish can’t seem to wait for our scheduled Catfish Opener on June 8.”
Getty added, “We recommend nothing less than 30-pound test line, and at least a size 4/0 circle hook for the blues. Use almost a whole mackerel fillet with no sinker at all. There have been big fish cruising the shallows near Rocky Point and all along the west shore.”
Anglers are reminded that we have a voluntary release policy on catfish over 10 pounds, and mandatory release on catfish over 20 pounds. Anglers who release a catfish over 20 pounds will get a free pass to the lake, and lucky anglers who release a catfish over 50 pounds will also get a certificate for a free boat rental. All bass species are also catch-and-release only at Irvine Lake.
Local guide Hubert Zimara of KFGS Service reported that warm temperatures saw the trout slide a little deeper. “Trolling has been wide open for a lot of anglers,” observed Zimara. “Fish that were at one to three colors of leadcore line went down to three to five colors. Many of our trout and steelhead have been nice 2 to 5 pounders.”
A new Irvine Lake “Masters” champion was crowned when Anthony Aguilar of Orange topped the invitation-only competition with a 2-2 rainbow. Aguilar pocketed $1,000 cash, and took home a one-year pass to the lake, a Danny Kadota rod, Daiwa reel, and more goodies.
Kevin Conod of Tustin had a 7½-pound steelhead while using a Power Trout Worm at the dam.
In addition to the big blue catfish, some whiskerfish chasers have set their sights on the surging numbers of resident channel catfish the lake offers. Several heavy limits were turned in by anglers fly-lining smaller pieces of mackerel in the same general areas where the trophy blue cats are being found. Lots of crappie are being caught incidentally by trout trollers. Bluegill are moving up into the shallows and can be caught with redworms under a bobber.
Terry Lairson of Huntington Beach had a 29-pound, 10-ounce blue catfish using mackerel at the west shore. Dan Pinel of Orange managed a 25-4 blue replicating Lairson’s approach. Nick Vega of Garden Grove landed blues of 23.14 and 12.14 pounds using mackerel at Rocky Point. Robbie Ferreira of San Pedro also used mackerel for a 20-pound, 15 ouncer in Sierra Cove. Ken Heaton of Orange also fished Rocky Point with mackerel for a 12.12 pounder. Robert Scott, also of Orange, had channel catfish of 6.6 and 5.12 pounds on mackerel fished in Sierra Cove.
There were also a handful of heavy catfish stringers in the mix, including a 15-fish channel catfish creel weighing 82.5 pounds caught by Marc Capueleto, Robbie Ferreira and Dan Pinel, all of San Pedro, using mackerel at the west shore. Nick Vega and Ken Heaton’s combined stringer weight for 10 fish was an impressive 40.2 pounds, and all whiskerfish were caught on mackerel at Rocky Point.
Serious bass anglers are being exceptionally tight-lipped, due to the upcoming open bass tournament scheduled for April 27.
Recreational-level bassers are finding very good numbers of 2- to 4-pound largemouth on drop-shot baits in 5 to 15 feet of water all over the lake. A few nice 10-pound-class wipers were caught by catfish anglers offering shrimp instead of mackerel.
Michelle Petty of Silverado bagged a 3½-pound largemouth on a swimbait fished in Boat Dock Cove. Steve Hathaway of Anaheim used shrimp in Sierra Cove for wipers weighing 11.2 and 10.1 pounds.
The 2012 Catfish Opener will be June 8, with thousands of pounds of channel catfish stocked, and the beginning of the summer schedule. Families with children age 12 and under found decent action on trout using pink/white Berkley Mice Tails.
Follow Irvine Lake on Facebook, on the web at IrvineLake.net or call (714) 649-9111.
TERRY ‘PONTOON’ LAIRSON of Huntington Beach is all smiles after landing this 29.10-pound blue catfish today while fishing mackerel at Irvine Lake’s West Shore. The trophy blue catfish was released after the photograph, earning Lairson a free admission pass to the lake.
IRVINE WIPERS — Steve "Hooks" Hathaway of Anaheim is pictured here with 11.2 and 10.1 pound wipers he caught on a recent outing to Irvine Lake using shrimp near the mouth of Sierra Cove. Both fish where released after the photograph.