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Irvine Lake bass and crappie still dominating

Reginald Walters of Carson kicks off the catfish season early, landing this 5.12-pound channel cat using chicken livers.

Here's this week's Irvine Lake fishing report, written by veteran angler Steve Carson:

Summer is fast approaching, making for a "changing of the guard," reports Irvine Lake Pro Team leader and legendary light-tackle expert Marlon Meade.

"The trout are moving down in the water column, and the crappie are really moving up," observed Meade. "Most of the crappie are in a 'post-spawn' condition and are running up to 1.5 pounds. Best bet is to drift during the afternoons in 20 to 25 feet of water."

Trouters are still having some success by moving deep into the water column. Deep-soaked nightcrawlers or Power Bait have been working to some degree. Even better has been deep trolling with four to five colors of leadcore line. Top trolling lures have been cop-car or bikini-color Luhr Jensen Needlefish or nightcrawlers on a trolling harness.

Crappie chasers are drifting with white Atomic Teasers or white 2-inch Gulp! Minnow Grubs rigged on a 1/16- to 1/32-ounce leadhead. The faster the drift, the heavier the leadhead, and if the drift slows down too much, it helps to keep twitching the jig along.  

Largemouth-bass anglers were highly successful using a variety of techniques, with some larger fish to 9 pounds, highlighting numerous 2- to 4-pounders. Daniel Boyd of Huntington Beach scored a whopping 9-14 bass and added a pair of 7s to go with a bunch of average-size specimens. James Smiley of Lake Forest released more than 20 largemouth in the 2- to 5-pound range on a variety of lures at Santiago Flats.

The red clay cliffs, Rocky Point, the flats and the west shore are all holding bass, with plastics, spinnerbaits, topwaters and jerkbaits all fooling fish.   

Anglers chasing the fast-moving schools of hybrid striped bass should look on their fish finders for balls of shad at 15 to 20 feet. If game fish appear to be hanging directly underneath the bait, they are likely crappie, but if the predators are zigzagging through the shad, it indicates the presence of the hybrids. Skilled or lucky anglers who intercept these wolf packs can garner plenty of bites using almost anything that resembles a 3-inch shad.

Anglers chasing bluegill and redear have done very well using the new Gulp! Crickets fished in shallow, brushy areas. The water level is receding slowly, having gone down about 2 feet in the last two weeks. The road to Trout Island may reemerge in the next two weeks, but the Kids Lagoon is not expected to be its own entity until mid-July. Surface temperatures are in the mid-70s. 

Irvine Lake’s own Marlon Meade will be conducting a free seminar at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Sport Chalet store in Brea. Topics covered will include drifting, night fishing, crappie and trout. 

The annual catfish season opener will be on June 11. A 10,000-pound catfish plant will be made just prior to the opener. Starting on that date, Irvine Lake will be open until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights, and starting on June 17, the lake will be open until 11 p.m. on Thursday nights. Starting on June 8, the lake will be closed on Tuesdays for the rest of the summer.  

From now until the end of summer, Irvine Lake is celebrating the "Super Saver Mondays" program. On Mondays only, adult admission will be $11; kids ages 4 to 12, $7; and motorboat rentals, $35. 

Outstanding catches of the week included:

-- Daniel Boyd of Huntington Beach, 9-14 largemouth bass (released) on a spinnerbait at the west shore.
-- Reginald Walters of Carson, 5-12 channel catfish on chicken liver at the flats.
-- 13-year-old Kristopher Onizuka of Orange, 5-1 channel catfish on a nightcrawler at the flats.
-- Ed Delany of Hollister, 5-14 rainbow trout on a Rapala at the west shore.
-- Don Spencer of Orange, 3-1 hybrid striped bass on a jig at the flats.

Photo: Reginald Walters of Carson kicks off the catfish season early, landing this 5.12-pound channel cat using chicken livers. Credit: Irvine Lake

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