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Irvine Lake trouters score limits at Santiago Flats

Shawn Crawford of Tustin checked in this fat 12-pound rainbow, caught on a Kastmaster at Woody's Cove. Here's this week's Irvine Lake fishing report, written by veteran angler Steve Carson:

Midweek trout anglers are advised to head straight over to Santiago Flats, reported Nick Sepulveda at the Pro Shop. "The flats has definitely been the hotspot for the last couple of days," observed Sepulveda. "A lot of trout limits are coming from back there, but not too many of the bigger fish. Nightcrawlers are still the hottest bait."

Another very interesting phenomenon available at Irvine Lake right now is the presence of a bald eagle. Pro Team leader Marlon Meade gushed, "I was crappie fishing with my dad when a huge bald eagle swooped down and grabbed a trout less than 30 yards away from us. It was a spectacular sight; just like on the National Geographic Channel!"

The big Western Outdoor News Southern California Trout Opener tournament will be Saturday. Anglers are reminded that to fish on that day, they must be registered for the tournament. Registration is $45, and anglers can pre-register online. Late signups will be taken starting at 4:30 a.m. Saturday.    

Most trout on the stringers were in the 2- to 5-pound class, with some much nicer fish spicing things up. Top trout baits were nightcrawlers, Power Bait, Mice Tails, and Gulp! Pinched Crawlers. Trollers dragged firetiger-color CD5 Rapala Countdowns or cop-car color Luhr Jensen Needlefish. Good catches were reported from Woody’s Cove, the west shore, and especially at Santiago Flats.

The crappie population is beginning its spring spawning moves, with the smaller males currently in about 8 feet of water, and the females at 20 feet. The slabs are ranging up to 1.5 pounds, and the best bet is drifting with white Atomic Tubes tipped with a meal worm in the vicinity of Santiago Flats. Plenty of crappie are also being caught incidentally by trout trollers.

Bass anglers are finding their quarry at numerous locations around the lake, with some fish now up on spawning beds. Very good catches of 2- to 6-pound largemouth are being tallied on plastics and spinnerbaits in 5 to 15 feet of water.

Families with children age 12 and younger found good action in the Kids Lagoon on 1- to 3-pound trout using Mice Tails and Gulp! Pinched Crawlers. The main lake level is expected to rise slightly, as the boards have been put up at the spillway. Surface water temperatures are in the low 60s and rising, with underwater visibility rated at 2 to 3 feet. 

Outstanding catches of the week included:

-- Ed John of Tustin, 12-10 rainbow trout on nightcrawlers at Woody’s Cove.
-- Shawn Crawford of Tustin, 12-0 rainbow trout on a Kastmaster at Woody’s Cove.
-- Brian Carter of Ontario, 7-12 rainbow trout on Power Bait at Woody’s Cove.
-- Shawn Acock of Fallbrook, 6-12 rainbow trout on a Rapala at mid-lake.
-- Richard Jara of Hesperia, 6-10 rainbow trout on Power Bait at Woody’s Cove.
-- Don Spencer of Orange, 4-1 largemouth bass [released] on plastics at the Red Clay Cliffs.
-- Mitz Onizuka of Irvine, 4-15 channel catfish on chicken livers at the flats.

Photo: Shawn Crawford of Tustin checked in this fat 12-pound rainbow, caught on a Kastmaster at Woody's Cove. Credit: Irvine Lake

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