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Overpressured clear lakes and how do I fish them?


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Being in southern California, and for that matter all of California, It seems many of our fisheries are crystal clear and HEAVILY pressured. I have gone to many of them, and always am just baffled at how smart these fish have become. As I watch the bank bass boats are floating by fishing over each other from time to time, and many shore anglers huff the bank. I have come to realize that while I love "Power fishing", It does not work well for my bodies of water because everyone and their mother seems to be throwing a square-bill or a spinner-bait. There have been some days where I dont even bother to take a bait casting setup and just take a spinning rod with a drop shot or small soft plastic jerk-bait because I just know I will skunk if I don't put the time in. The worst part is even texas rigged soft plastics and many drop-shot plastics are very hit or miss, one day they the bass love a Roboworm in 6 inches, the next they wont hit anything but a really small 3 inch clear shad color fluke. I was wondering if any of you fellow anglers have tricks for these heavily fished clear water reservoirs because for me it is just a pure challenge. This could be bait colors or profiles that may give the bass something different to see.

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  • Super User

Clear water with a lot of pressure makes bass smart real quick. It’s tough sledding. A lot of northern waters with smallmouth in and around the Great Lakes are like this.

 

I try to fish during the week rather than on the weekend when I fish these types of water. A cloudy or rainy day can help too as it reduces visibility and keeps a few more people off the water. More natural colors is my preference too like perch, goby, and crayfish patterns.

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  • Super User

Welcome to BR and my world of bass fishing.

99.9% of what is written about bass fishing com from the heartland of bass fishing Midwest and southern regions.

Fresh water Bass, all species, are were transplanted to California they are not native. What that means is bass have adapted to their new environments, water storage reservoirs. Nothing is genetically normal, the bass must change to evolve to their new ecosystems.

SoCal our reservoirs are dammed mountain canyons to store rain water run off and prevent flooding. The reservoirs were not designed to be fisheries. The fish adapted to the nearly Sterile environment. DFW plants bass, bluegill, crappie, Threadfin Shad and catfish, that is it. On time plants into new reservoirs and from then on they are on the own. 

Sterile Rainbow trout are or were planted during colder water periods as put and take fishery for public fishing funded by fishing license sales. 

All the bass prior to 1970 for SoCal lakes, other then, San Diego, were northern strain LMB, Smallmouth and Spotted Bass. After 1970 Florida strain LMB and Alabama Southern strain Spotted Bass were introduced. 

The 80’s To 90’s the new FLMB and Spotted bass grew to record size! The big bass boom arrived. 

Today 30 years later everything has settled down and the result is wary FLMB strains difficult to catch. 

Finesse presentation work 80% of the time with power presentations 20% when the bass are more aggressive.

Adapt like the bass have or be skunked.

Tom

Ps, read my Horizontal jigging and don Iovino Finesse fishing and Sonar Connection. Finesse bass and swimbaits started in SoCal for a reason. 

 

 

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I feel your pain.  About 90% of the water I fish sees daily pressure every day except now, in the winter.

First thing you need to do is figure out what everyone else is using for bait, and use something different.

Second, you'll need to find the bass.  Around here the bass are usually in the thickest cover, or down as deep as they can go.

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1 hour ago, soflabasser said:

Try fishing at night.

LOL, he's in southern California. There are very few lakes that are open for legal night fishing here. Almost none. The nanny state insists on closely supervising anyone that might be having fun here.

====================================

As for the OP, there are times when I do a lot of fishing with spinning gear, but I haven't fished with one here at Castaic in about 2 months. Lately, I haven't even bothered to bring spinning gear with me. If I was fishing from shore here, I would bring one of each pretty much year round. 

 

There are many techniques best suited for baitcasting gear here. Topwater, jerkbaits, carolina rigs, jigs, texas rig 'baits', crankbaits, larger spoons, swimbaits and spinnerbaits are some examples of techniques that mostly favor baitcasting gear, and they all work here, quite well at times.

 

The fishing here is generally a little on the stingy side. As mentioned, they aren't usually rabid enough to eat the paint off of your boat, but fishing isn't horrible either most of the time. Right now, my biggest impediment to catching fish is the wind.

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2 hours ago, gimruis said:

Clear water with a lot of pressure makes bass smart real quick. It’s tough sledding. A lot of northern waters with smallmouth in and around the Great Lakes are like this.

 

I try to fish during the week rather than on the weekend when I fish these types of water. A cloudy or rainy day can help too as it reduces visibility and keeps a few more people off the water. More natural colors is my preference too like perch, goby, and crayfish patterns.

Thanks, I will try this and that makes sense by reducing visibility the fish cannot see as well either! thanks so much!

11 minutes ago, Big Hands said:

LOL, he's in southern California. There are very few lakes that are open for legal night fishing here. Almost none. The nanny state insists on closely supervising anyone that might be having fun here.

====================================

As for the OP, there are times when I do a lot of fishing with spinning gear, but I haven't fished with one here at Castaic in about 2 months. Lately, I haven't even bothered to bring spinning gear with me. If I was fishing from shore here, I would bring one of each pretty much year round. 

 

There are many techniques best suited for baitcasting gear here. Topwater, jerkbaits, carolina rigs, jigs, texas rig 'baits', crankbaits, larger spoons, swimbaits and spinnerbaits are some examples of techniques that mostly favor baitcasting gear, and they all work here, quite well at times.

 

The fishing here is generally a little on the stingy side. As mentioned, they aren't usually rabid enough to eat the paint off of your boat, but fishing isn't horrible either most of the time. Right now, my biggest impediment to catching fish is the wind.

yeah the wind has been pretty bad here as well

1 hour ago, Bankbeater said:

I feel your pain.  About 90% of the water I fish sees daily pressure every day except now, in the winter.

First thing you need to do is figure out what everyone else is using for bait, and use something different.

Second, you'll need to find the bass.  Around here the bass are usually in the thickest cover, or down as deep as they can go.

Yeah, Compared to when I first started I have been getting alot better at finding where the fish are at by looking for cover and depth, Id say the most annoying part about my lakes is they are crystal clear but have a ton of weeds 5 feet below the surface. If you punch those fish can see it clear as day and if you dropshot sometimes you can barley get your bait down there, Its difficult but im trying to figure it out

2 hours ago, WRB said:

Welcome to BR and my world of bass fishing.

99.9% of what is written about bass fishing com from the heartland of bass fishing Midwest and southern regions.

Fresh water Bass, all species, are were transplanted to California they are not native. What that means is bass have adapted to their new environments, water storage reservoirs. Nothing is genetically normal, the bass must change to evolve to their new ecosystems.

SoCal our reservoirs are dammed mountain canyons to store rain water run off and prevent flooding. The reservoirs were not designed to be fisheries. The fish adapted to the nearly Sterile environment. DFW plants bass, bluegill, crappie, Threadfin Shad and catfish, that is it. On time plants into new reservoirs and from then on they are on the own. 

Sterile Rainbow trout are or were planted during colder water periods as put and take fishery for public fishing funded by fishing license sales. 

All the bass prior to 1970 for SoCal lakes, other then, San Diego, were northern strain LMB, Smallmouth and Spotted Bass. After 1970 Florida strain LMB and Alabama Southern strain Spotted Bass were introduced. 

The 80’s To 90’s the new FLMB and Spotted bass grew to record size! The big bass boom arrived. 

Today 30 years later everything has settled down and the result is wary FLMB strains difficult to catch. 

Finesse presentation work 80% of the time with power presentations 20% when the bass are more aggressive.

Adapt like the bass have or be skunked.

Tom

Ps, read my Horizontal jigging and don Iovino Finesse fishing and Sonar Connection. Finesse bass and swimbaits started in SoCal for a reason. 

 

 

Wow thankyou so much for this information and that is facinating! I always wondered how those bass got here and thats interesting that DFG planted them. Thats also interesting how they adapted to crystal clear water! I will read up on your horizontal jigging method as well and read up on finesse swim baits! Thankyou so much for the vast array of information and I found it very interesting that they also stocked panfish in the lakes!. Thanks so much for this help and I will give it a try

2 hours ago, soflabasser said:

Try fishing at night.

Yeah I could but most of my lakes dont allow it :(

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Fishing pressure?   Two weeks ago, the lake in my back yard hosted a bass tournament with 200 boats from all over the country.  From now until June, we will have at least two bass tournaments each week.  Add in all the prefishing, and you have some very tough conditions.  Since it seems everyone is moving to Florida, things will just get worse. 

 

When this happens, you must do what others don't.  You also must reduce your expectations.  Lighter line, smaller lures and longer casts will help.  The fish are there, it's up to you to make them bite.  Scouting out new places and techniques pays off.  90% of the fish are caught by 10% of the anglers.  Find out what those 10% are doing and do it.  

 

 

 

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Probably not to the extreme you have but we have similar situations here in Michigan. I've noticed my catch rate go up by using some extra stealth in the boat. Sonar off, pumps off, trolling motor on minimum power, changing my casting style to not displace tons of air), wearing muted sky colored clothes, staying as far back from where I am fishing as possible, sometimes fishing from a kneeling position, being aware of where my boat's shadow is being cast, etc.

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  • Super User

Highly pressured yes!

Castaic and Casitas get weekly tournaments year around. Doesn’t sound any different from other famous bass lakes until you factor in they about 2000 acre lakes about 2 miles long, 300’ deep with steep rocky banks.

Tom

 

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Sometimes throwing a bait that is totally different than what is the recommended, or what everyone says works, i.e. at DVL the general rule is a dropshot is the only bait that will get you fish isn't necessarily true.

We had a small club tournament in mid July, air temps were in the 100's, tons of boats on the water. I tried the usual stuff, then about 1pm, I went to the horseshoe dam, tied on a 7" jointed swimbait, and worked in about 3 feet of water, after about 3 or 4 casts, I had a nice 6 1/2 pound bass grab it. Granted I only caught 2 bass, but 95 % of the other guys only caught very small bass. 

That kicker was good enough to net a couple of hindered bucks. I would just say do something different, ya never know it may work. 

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Find places you are allowed to fish at night and fish there. Night fishing is not for everyone but it is a proven way to catch bass in a highly pressured body of water. Understand that if you fish the same way most people do you will most likely have the same results they do. 

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14 hours ago, Captain Phil said:

Fishing pressure?   Two weeks ago, the lake in my back yard hosted a bass tournament with 200 boats from all over the country.  From now until June, we will have at least two bass tournaments each week.  Add in all the prefishing, and you have some very tough conditions.  Since it seems everyone is moving to Florida, things will just get worse. 

 

When this happens, you must do what others don't.  You also must reduce your expectations.  Lighter line, smaller lures and longer casts will help.  The fish are there, it's up to you to make them bite.  Scouting out new places and techniques pays off.  90% of the fish are caught by 10% of the anglers.  Find out what those 10% are doing and do it.  

 

 

 

Very interesting words! I will start trying lighter finesse lures more!!!

3 hours ago, Hammer 4 said:

Sometimes throwing a bait that is totally different than what is the recommended, or what everyone says works, i.e. at DVL the general rule is a dropshot is the only bait that will get you fish isn't necessarily true.

We had a small club tournament in mid July, air temps were in the 100's, tons of boats on the water. I tried the usual stuff, then about 1pm, I went to the horseshoe dam, tied on a 7" jointed swimbait, and worked in about 3 feet of water, after about 3 or 4 casts, I had a nice 6 1/2 pound bass grab it. Granted I only caught 2 bass, but 95 % of the other guys only caught very small bass. 

That kicker was good enough to net a couple of hindered bucks. I would just say do something different, ya never know it may work. 

 Interesting, I have never tried large swimbaits before because of the price but that is a very interesting way to catch them

15 hours ago, slonezp said:

Long casts

Okay I will try this as well as it seems to be reccomended alot!

12 hours ago, Michigander said:

Probably not to the extreme you have but we have similar situations here in Michigan. I've noticed my catch rate go up by using some extra stealth in the boat. Sonar off, pumps off, trolling motor on minimum power, changing my casting style to not displace tons of air), wearing muted sky colored clothes, staying as far back from where I am fishing as possible, sometimes fishing from a kneeling position, being aware of where my boat's shadow is being cast, etc.

That makes tons of sense as the fish can probably see us as well!

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Before It’s easy to post recommendations how to catch bass in our local SoCal reservoirs, not so easy to do it.

1. The public lakes open 1/2 hour after sunrise and 1/2 hour before sunset, no night fishing.

The line up at the gate usually has between 30 to 60 boats everyday 360 days each year barring severe winds. Weekends have club and regional tournaments every weekend 12 months. The lakes are small 2000 acres on average. Pressure.

The anglers are skilled. The average for 50 boat tournament is the top 3 catch a 5 bass limit in 6 hours allotted. The top 10 may catch between 3 to 4 bass, the balance catch 1 bass to 0 bass, 1/2 the field blank.

I don’t fish weekends for this reason, it’s tough. I will fish night charity events because the fishing is generally good....during the few summer months they are held.

If you never fished FLMB in out local lake it’s hard to know how humbling it can be.

Tom

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10 hours ago, WRB said:

Before It’s easy to post recommendations how to catch bass in our local SoCal reservoirs, not so easy to do it.

1. The public lakes open 1/2 hour after sunrise and 1/2 hour before sunset, no night fishing.

The line up at the gate usually has between 30 to 60 boats everyday 360 days each year barring severe winds. Weekends have club and regional tournaments every weekend 12 months. The lakes are small 2000 acres on average. Pressure.

The anglers are skilled. The average for 50 boat tournament is the top 3 catch a 5 bass limit in 6 hours allotted. The top 10 may catch between 3 to 4 bass, the balance catch 1 bass to 0 bass, 1/2 the field blank.

I don’t fish weekends for this reason, it’s tough. I will fish night charity events because the fishing is generally good....during the few summer months they are held.

If you never fished FLMB in out local lake it’s hard to know how humbling it can be.

Tom

I hear you, that makes alot of sense. Even the pros have somewhat slower days I guess lol. Being humble is something I try my best to do, Even if I go out and catch nothing or a small panfish sized bass I try to think of what I did wrong and improve on it. Thanks so much for giving your time in helping me out!

10 hours ago, Hammer 4 said:

I too avoid weekends. Although during the summer even w/o tourney's it can get really crowded, lines to get are crazy long. 

Yeah its crowded back to back with bass boats and shore anglers, I hear you and try to go after my college classes in the weekdays. Thanks so much for your time as well replying to me!

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  • Super User

Suggest visiting Fishing Fools in Granada Hills and chat with them....if they are open?

If I was going to fish Castaic from shore the areas would be the marinas both main and west launch areas.

Finesse presentation would be “slip shot rig” using spinning or casting tackle. Spinning use 6 lb mono, 1/8 to 3/16 oz mojo weight, 8mm glass faceted bead, plastic Carolina Keeper, Owner 5133 size 1/0 hook, 5 1/2” Prism Shad and MM111 curl tail worms. Casting use 1/4 to 3/8 oz mojo weight same bead and keeper, 10 lb mono same hook size 2/0 and 6” fat straight tail worms, or 4.3 Keitech Fat swimmer with 3/0 Owner CPS light wire hook. No leader use main line. Length between hook and keeper (weight stopper) about 24”.

Fan cast the entire areas.

Good luck,

Tom

PS, you can interchange Roboworms spinning or casting.

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  • 1 month later...

I've found the best bait for me at large lakes is live shad and sight fishing.  I've found that live bait is legal is some San Diego lakes.  I've also caught bass using a nightcrawler and bobber from shore.  Sorry to admit it. 

 

One day, I would love to have a boat.  I feel that boats are a huge advantage.  I won't even fish at local community lakes anymore unless it is private.  I'd rather go golfing instead given the chances of getting skunked are so high.  

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The bass will be in shallower water in 2 weeks 3/26/2021-3/30/2021 as the major spawn gets underway and available to shore anglers and everyone who owns a bass boat!

Tom

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  • 1 month later...
On 3/5/2021 at 2:02 PM, WRB said:

The bass will be in shallower water in 2 weeks 3/26/2021-3/30/2021 as the major spawn gets underway and available to shore anglers and everyone who owns a bass boat!

Tom

Hey I went out today with just a spinning rod, light line and a drop shot and caught more fish than I have ever caught. Was fishing really realistic drop-shot baits like a peanut butter jelly or watermelon and it was a blast. Caught them transitioning out from the spawn :)

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I fished Lake Dixon once from shore and it was the first time I really realized when they say the water is "gin clear" the water is actually gin clear and you can see as far as the naked eye can see.  I saw shad being chased nearby and breaking the surface and tried squarebills and dropshot, both which work for me in NorCal when I see the shad breaking - not a nibble.

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On 4/10/2021 at 12:57 PM, blckshirt98 said:

I fished Lake Dixon once from shore and it was the first time I really realized when they say the water is "gin clear" the water is actually gin clear and you can see as far as the naked eye can see.  I saw shad being chased nearby and breaking the surface and tried squarebills and dropshot, both which work for me in NorCal when I see the shad breaking - not a nibble.

yup its tough, and the population of socal is HUGE, which means those gen clear bass are heavily pressured, its a perfect storm for lockjaw bass IMO. personally I have found traveling out of state or even to lakes a few hours a way I catch 5x more bass. its hard fishing but it is what it is, we also got huge bass

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On 3/5/2021 at 2:02 PM, WRB said:

The bass will be in shallower water in 2 weeks 3/26/2021-3/30/2021 as the major spawn gets underway and available to shore anglers and everyone who owns a bass boat!

Tom

I'm going out fishing tomorrow at castaic it's going to be my first time at this lake and first time with this person. I'm confident he doesn't have a fish finder, could you possibly reccomend me a few locations/presentations to try out. Thank you in advance! 

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