The other thing I want to mention is that after a successful first run, the Big Bass Days of March are going to continue! Bass World West is offering up a free $50 gift certificiate for the biggest bass caught, photographed, and posted on the forum by a calfishing.com registered user. Please keep in mind that this is a "for fun" promotion. The goal is motivate everyone to put up their big fish pics and keep the info flowing, not to win the gift certificate. The gift certificate is there as a nice reward to the guy or gal who get's the big bass of the month and takes the time to post the pics and hopefully a story for us. Updated rules for the contest will be posted soon to try to make this as simple and reasonable as possible.
One thing that is nice about fishing in the WONdering region and also kickboating and float tubing all over is that I get to see a lot of different lakes during different times of the year. I really believe that to become a great bass fisherman, you need to fish all over the place and learn what the bass do at more than just a few lakes. Although I haven't really stumbled into any phenomenal sight fishing this year, I have learned a lot about what the bass do during the pre-spawn, spawn, and post-spawn.
If you can see the fish during the pre-spawn, you will most likely see the following: Male bass will scool up at "meeting areas" as I like to think of them. This could be a rocky point, a big laydown tree, a clump of tullies, or a boat dock. Basically a prominent piece of structure located adjacent to spawning areas. If you see a bunch of males ganged up on a spot like that, you know it's pre-spawn. Females will be close by but not always visible. The more females you see, the closer the fish are to spawning. If there are no females to be seen, the fishing could be very tough. Usually the males will act like this when the water warms rapidly in the early spring.
This is the easy one. If there are pairs of fish on beds, they are either spawning or close to it. The female might hang around for a bit after spawning, but generally they leave and the male takes over guarding the nest.
Fry is the answer to this question. If you see fry, it means the fish (at least some of them) have spawned. Fry will usually be right where the fish should be spawning. You can also tell if it's post-spawn because you'll see males sort of hanging around the spawning areas with no females. Most times if you look close you'll see that the males are guarding the fry. The females, immediately after spawning, can be pretty tough to catch. I seem to find them around weedbeds during this time. If there aren't any weeds, they'll pick some sort of shady cover or deeper water and hunker down. Once they recuperate for a bit, that's when the topwater bite starts, and good fishing can be found again.
Lakes in California are in all three stages right now. Doing some looking around when you get on the water can quickly tell you what is going on for the particular lake you are on. And remember too that it's never cut and dry. Huge females on beds in May are by no means unheard of. Fish will come up to spawn in waves and in different parts of the lakes at different times. The bottom line is that there is lots of great fishing still to come.
Yes, salmon is the word in the salt right now. Since opening day the bite has been consistently excellent in Santa Barbara/Ventura and in the Monterey area. Morro and Avila got a little left out this year, but the fish could move there at any time. The bottom line is that this is the best salmon fishing in Santa Barbara since 1995. Report after report is coming in of limits, mostly trolling, in "the gap" and the entire area between the 7 rigs and the oil island at La Conchita.
Salmon fishing is a funny thing. On the right day you could drag 80lb dacron behind a sailboat and catch limits. Other days the fish will show a definite preference to a certain spoon or hoochie color. The top producers this year have been crocodiles in blue, green, silver, and a little bit of red. If you were dragging one bait right now, I'd drag a chrome croc with blue tape. Other baits that are producing are the ubiquitous rotary salmon killer, the pearl white or "wonder bread" spoon, and a few on hoochies. I think for the most part the fish are on bait and not squid. If you have downriggers that is a plus. Team Striper reported in with limits on 4/10 using 15lb off the rigger. If you don't mind spending a few bucks on lead you can do the sinker release method, or if you're like Larry on the Calico Hunter, you can use the "50lb spectra to lead ball to lure" method. If I was just going to to go a couple times this year, I'd probably use a similar rig just because it's simple and pretty cheap other than the line itself. Larry and his brother Scott reported in with limits on 4/11 using aforementioned technique. They also had limits on April 7th. For the latest on the salmon bite just find your way to the saltwater message board and check out the action. Weekends are probably going to be a zoo from here on out, so keep an eye on the less popular areas like the lighthouse off the Mesa and also off of Goleta Beach. Although the main concentration is off the rigs, you might be a lot better served finding your own fish when it's 300's a crowd in aisle 6 down by the "gap"
A few white seabass reports have been filtering in. Team Striper had some nice fish going at Catalina on the weekend of April 6-7 along with some quality flat fish in the mix. There still has yet to be a sustained wide open type bite anywhere, but here is my prediction: During the week between April 21st and 25th, the seabass are going to bite really good. If I could tell you where I would, but unfortunately I don't really know the spots at Catalina, San Clemente, SBI, etc. But I really believe that they will bite then. The other thing I will predict is that by the weekend of April 27-28 the fishing will die off considerably and everyone who got all pumped to go on an overnight trip after seeing the counts during the week, will find themselves somewhat disappointed. I also feel like pretty soon someone ought to pop some nice fish in the SB harbor. I don't know if it's for lack of anyone trying or what, but they should start to show up pretty soon.