The 2012 California trout forecast is very promising for all anglers statewide. California Game & Fish Magazine has put together an extensive outlook for the entire state, from north to south, so you can pinpoint places to target.
There is no so-called “season” for trout fishing in Southern California. No official opener, no stream closures; just a few frozen bodies of water to contend with in the winter months. However, there is something that more or less qualifies for an “unofficial” opener. That is when the weather cools down enough to get the water in most of the reservoirs, lakes and streams cold enough to stock trout and have them survive.
These reservoirs, lakes and streams are stocked to provide fishing for the local population. The California Department of Fish and Game is one of the main suppliers of catchable-size trout. It stocks areas such as the Santa Ana River in San Bernardino County, off of State Highway 38 at the South Fork Campground. The stocking starts to go in at that point, and for the next 10-12 miles downstream the DFG stocks over 12 thousand pounds of catchable-size trout each year, offering the angler a great fishery all year long. The projected outlook for this area is very promising, with many stocked and native fish to be had. Upstream provides more of the wild native fish, mostly brown trout.
However, this year has seen some cutbacks in not only the budget, but the areas where trout are stocked. In Southern California, some well-known reservoirs, lakes and streams are receiving no stockings from the DFG or from private hatcheries. This is due to the current litigation process that concerns many of the Environmental Impact Reports on waters where trout are stocked.
For the many waters that do receive stockings during the cooler months of the year, DFG stocks larger numbers in those waters. In places like Lake Perris State Park in southwest Riverside County, the stockings exceed 25 thousand pounds per year. According to Dwayne Maxwell, with the California Department of Fish and Game, Fisheries Division Region 5, many other areas are receiving the stocking allotments that were scheduled for the now-closed areas, boosting the numbers for these places.
The overall outlook for the Southern California stocking season is very good, despite the cutbacks and closures. There remain strong fishing venues that millions of anglers enjoy during the cooler months of the year going after mainly stocked trout. The DFG posts all the stocking schedules and they can be viewed by logging onto www.dfg.ca.gov
One private trout hatchery that is getting a very warm welcome here in Southern California is Chaulk Mound Trout Ranch out of Bridgeport, Nebraska. That’s right — Nebraska. They stock wonderful, wild-fighting rainbow trout that have now become known as “tailwalkers.” Getting their stocking business started here in California wasn’t easy. However, due to professionalism, belief in their product and a fantastic customer service attitude, Ron and Lisa Bright have made a name for Chaulk Mound Trout Ranch.
Chaulk Mound fish are stocked in only a few well-known free lakes, such as Lake Wohlford, Lake Dixon, Lake Poway and Lake Miramar, all in San Diego County and all within 20 minutes of each other. They are also in a few well-known “pay to play” lakes in the southland, like Santa Ana River Lakes and Corona Lake. These tailwalkers have developed quite a reputation. Even though they are stocked and not wild, they still hold the fight of a strong, wild rainbow trout. For more information on them, log onto www.cmtrout.com.
There are many other areas that hold wild trout in the southland and that can be accessed any time of the year, weather permitting. Almost all are listed as “Special Regulations” fishing areas and require artificial lures and flies with only barbless hooks. Some allow the standard catch limit of five fish per day per license. Others require a two-fish limit of fish over 8-10 inches. Now that doesn’t seem like a huge fish and they are not. However, considering the fact that these fish live and thrive within a short, one-hour drive or less from over 20 million people, they are a rare find, indeed.
For more information on fishing in Southern California, log onto: www.socalfishn.com.
Central California options are on page two