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Southern CA Freshwater

Big largemouth and stripers eat swimbaits on epic outing

BY MIKE STEVENS/WON Staff Writer Published: Feb 08, 2017

WINCHESTER — Swimbait grinders foam at the mouth when stocked trout are delivered to their favorite largemouth and striped bass fisheries, but when they arrive, it typically doesn’t immediately turn on the trophy-fish bite like an underwater light switch. This is especially true at Lake Skinner, where trout have been stocked for weeks, but the first signs of a quality swimmie bite are just starting to pop up.

Had the outing ended with Frank Camino Sr.’s 8.02-pound largemouth as the top fish of the day, it would have been considered a great day on the water, but Frank Jr. was having none of that.

DAD STRIKES FIRST — Lake Elsinore angler Frank Cimino pulled this 8.02-pound Lake Skinner largemouth off a high spot with a Live Target Trout.

“I was fishing with my dad on a rental boat, and it was slow until he caught an 8-pound largemouth on a 7.5-inch Live Target Trout in 20 feet of water off a high-spot leading into a cove,” said Cimino Jr. “We focused on that area for some time before we decided to let the spot cool off for a bit before coming back. I let the boat drift into a long, shallow point with a brush line coming off of it, and I made a long cast with a Gan Craft 303 swimbait parallel to the brush in about 5 feet of water. A few cranks into my retrieve my bait stopped and mayhem ensued. I knew I had something good when it was pulling all 25 pounds of drag, and when I first saw it in the water, I honestly didn’t think it would fit in our net. It was the true, giant fish that I’ve been searching for in that lake for years. I’m still shocked, and it was a day of fishing that I’ll never forget.”

The striped bass went 26.2 pounds and was caught 20 minutes after his dad’s bucketmouth along the same 100-yard stretch of bank near Ramp 2. It was the day after a DFW trout stock, and the day of a Mount Lassen stock.

“The fishing at Skinner has been tough overall,” added the younger Cimino. “The stripers feed in such short windows, you have to be in the right place at the right time.

juniorgetslastlaughJUNIOR GETS LAST LAUGH — Less than a half hour later, Frank Jr., also of Lake Elsinore, scored this 26.2-pound striped bass on the same shoreline with a Gan Craft swimbait.

From what I've seen there is a solid bite on cut bait on the smaller class fish; I saw a guy limit out on 2- to 5-pound stripers on anchovies in less than an hour, but most people are leaving empty handed. There is a good trout bite in the East End, I didn't partake but I saw several boats slaying it mid-morning, most were of quality size.

Cimino, Jr. went back for a follow up trip to check out some spots from shore and was rewarded with a couple schoolie stripers and a 5.7-pound largemouth, all three of which were caught on the Rago Baits Alpha Trout that the Lake Elsinore angler was throwing.

“I saw so much trout activity I thought that maybe DFW did a random stock like they do sometimes,” he added. Every 20 to 30 minutes, I saw 8- to 10-inch trout swimming by, every once in a while they looked extremely nervous. The stripers ripped one of my fins off, so I glued it back on and was waiting for it to dry, when wolf pack of largemouth started to stalk trout right in front of me. After a few minutes they started getting extremely aggressive, almost beaching themselves for the trout, I grabbed my Alpha Trout and pitched it 20 yards behind them and the 5.7 pounder ate it right in front of me in a couple feet of water, epic. Maybe things are starting to heat up over at Skinner?”

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