SILVERADO — The sizzling bite on big blue catfish that started a couple of weeks ago at Irvine Lake continued; with the lake’s record holder for both blue catfish and sturgeon demonstrating why he is a master of the big-fish craft. None other than the legendary Ronson “Catmando” Smothers landed a pair of huge whiskerfish, and was broken off by a third.
Smothers recounted, “I was fishing in about 20 feet of water at Santiago Flats with big chunks of mackerel on 30- and 40-pound Berkley Big Game mono and 10/0 Mustad hooks. I got my first bite 10 minutes into the morning, and knew it was a big one of 35 pounds or more. Unfortunately that one broke me off. Ten minutes later, I was back in a tug of war with a nice one. It was a flawless 47 pounder. About 15 minutes later, I was on again, and landed the 32 pounder.”
Smothers added, “By 7 a.m., the blues had stopped biting. I then had a non-stop bite on channel cats from 4 to 8 pounds, and was off the lake by 11 a.m.”
The catfish pyrotechnics somewhat overshadowed a phenomenal largemouth bass bite, observed Jimmy Getty at the Pro Shop. “We had an 18-team bass tournament on Thursday, and 15 of the 18 teams weighed in with at least a 10-pound bag (5 bass). The top team of Mark Tibbets and Don Spencer had a 17-6 total, with a 7-8 kicker, and the third-place team had a 7-2 kicker. The overall fishing is very, very good on 2- to 4-pound bass right now.”
Getty tipped, “The competitors caught their bass on almost everything; the top team used dartheads and Senkos, but very good bites were also had on worms, jigs, swimbaits, power techniques, and even topwaters.”
Don Spencer of Garden Grove used a darthead at the cliffs to nail a 9-pound largemouth, and Mark Tibbets of Orange had a 7½ pounder on a Senko fished at the west shore.
The combination of warming temperatures and ultra-clear water conditions is moving the trout steadily deeper in the water column. Trollers are scoring best at four or five colors of leadcore line, with black/silver Rapala Countdown CD05’s, cop-car color Luhr Jensen Needlefish, and brown trout-color Jointed Rapala J05’s. Bait dunkers are doing best along the west shore going with 24- to 36-inch leaders and PowerBait/nightcrawler combos.
Angel Dominguez of Placentia used PowerBait in Sierra Cove for an 11.2-pound rainbow.
Anglers targeting channel catfish are finding some limit stringers, mostly filled with 3 to 6 pounders. Mackerel soaked at 15 to 25 feet in Santiago Flats is the top offering for catfish. Very few anglers are specifically targeting crappie, but plenty of slabs are being caught incidentally by trout trollers, and even bass anglers. Plenty of bluegill and redear are available for anglers offering redworms or mealworms.
In addition to the aforementioned massive blue catfish, Ronson Smothers also had an 8.2-pound channel catfish while soaking mackerel at the flats. Manas Malikian of Orange scored a 1-pound, 7-ounce crappie on an A-rig at the same locale.
Families with children age 12 and under found slow action in the Kids Lagoon. The main lake surface temperature is hovering around 65 degrees, with the lake level holding steady. Underwater visibility is rated extremely clear.
RONSON SMOTHERS of Los Angeles caught this 47½-pound blue catfish while fishing a big chunk of mackeral at Irvine Lake’s Santiago Flats. Ronson released the big blue after a quick photo opp.