SILVERADO — Just when you thought the catfish bite at Irvine Lake couldn’t get any better, the whiskerfish cranked it up another notch, reported Jimmy Getty at the Pro Shop. “This past week has been the best catfish bite so far this year,” observed Getty. “We have tons of people getting limits of mostly stocker-size 2 to 6 pounders, but some bigger ones are definitely being caught. On Thursday night we had catfish experts Ronson “Catmando” Smothers and Bryan Porter set up on ‘the hump’ off Trout Island. They got into a wide-open bite of better-grade channel cats, and every time the bait hit bottom they got a bite from an 8 to 10 pounder. After boating a double limit that totaled over 100 pounds, the pair drove off with the fish still biting.”
Productive baits for catfish included mackerel, shrimp, Gulp! Catfish Chunks and even an obscure bait species found in Asian fish markets known as a pike mackerel. Good catches were checked in from Santiago Flats, the west shoreline, and Boat Dock Cove.
Getty added, “Most of the catfish are being caught in 20 feet of water or less. The bite gets started in the late afternoon and just gets better as the evening goes on. There are also some indications that the monster-size blue cats are starting to get active.”
Terry Lairson of Huntington Beach used mackerel at the flats for a 13-1 channel catfish. Chris Hagopian of Redondo Beach used the same bait at the same locale for an 11 pounder, and Bryan Porter of Los Angeles used a mackerel/shrimp combo at the hump for a 10-12 channel. Phil Hildebrandt of Anaheim used Bit-On Cajun at the flats for a 9½-pound channel cat.
Bass anglers found very good numbers of 2- to 5-pound largemouth using a variety of techniques. Daytime anglers hit 20- to 30-foot depths with drop-shot-rigged plastic, jigs and Carolina rigs. Evening has the fish move up, with 10-inch Texas-rigged Power Worms and topwaters hitting them hard. The frog bite is also still happening, but is sensitive to excess pressure. The key for success when tossing the plastic amphibians is being first on it on Wednesday or Thursday, or doing something different.
Whit Curry of Irvine used a Nezumma Rat at the west shore for a 5.5-pound largemouth.
Local guide Don Spencer also found the key to unlock the crappie bite, and located the slabs in 40 feet of water suspended over schools of shad. A few hybrid stripers were seen boiling on shad, but none were checked in.
John Barry of Texas had a 1½-pound crappie on a darthead at the west shore.
Families with children age 12 and under found good numbers of 1- to 3-pound catfish in the Kids Lagoon on mackerel or the m&m combo. Surface temperature on the main lake was running 78-79 degrees, and underwater visibility was rated very clear. Lake level is dropping 6 to 8 inches per week.
For those anglers planning far ahead, the 2012-13 Trout Season Opener will be Friday, November 2. This coming weekend will feature the “Midsummer Night’s Dream” catfish tournament, and on Saturday night Aug. 11, the lake will remain open until 2 a.m.
IRVINE LAKE DOUBLE LIMIT — The catfish bite at Irvine Lake is heating up. Andrew Plascencia of Indio teamed up with Jaun Zepeda of Norwalk to string this double limit of channel catfish last week. These cats were caught from shore using shrimp and mackerel for bait. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC