Irvine Lake Trout Opener Tips and Tricks
IRVINE LAKE OPENER
By Steve Carson
IRVINE LAKE NOVEMBER 1 OPENING DAY; TACTICS TO FOOL 20,000 POUNDS OF TROUT
Some 20,000 pounds of trout will be planted in Irvine Lake just before the upcoming trout season opener on Friday, November 1. The lake will also be stocked with thousands of pounds of additional trout throughout the coming winter season.
The lake will be closed to the public from Monday October 28 until Thursday October 31, to stock the trout and prepare for the season. Contact the Pro Shop [714-649-9111] for information on the special limited-entry “VIP Fishing Day” on Thursday, October 31.
About 80-percent of the stocking will consist of rainbow trout in the 2 to 6-pound class from popular Calaveras Trout Farms, the remaining 20-percent will be brown trout and brook trout in the same size range, along with some better grade rainbows over 7 pounds.
After that, approximately 5,000 pounds of trout will be stocked each and every week, and once water temperatures have cooled sufficiently, some trophy-class rainbows over 12 pounds will be added to the mix.
The key to catching all species of trout at Irvine Lake is ultra-light line. For bait anglers, it is important to never use anything heavier than 4-pound test clear monofilament. If the fish are acting finicky, or are under heavy pressure during weekend or holiday periods, use 2-pound test line.
Using ultra-light line will mean a few big ones may get away. Set your drag loose and keep your rod tip high to protect your line. The dramatically increased number of bites you will get will make up for any losses.
Casting with small metal lures such as Krocodiles can be done with 4-pound test clear monofilament or fluorocarbon line, but tossing small plastics like Berkley Atomic Tubes and Power Trout Worms should be done with 2-pound line. Trollers can use up to 6-pound line when surface trolling with Rapalas or other lures, and 6-pound leaders work well when trolling with lead-core line.
Bait fishing at Irvine Lake traditionally means Power Bait. Exactly what makes fish prefer one color over another is hard to say. Many Irvine regulars have a virtual supermarket selection of bait colors in their tackle box.
Top colors last season in Power Bait were the always-reliable chartreuse, along with yellow, rainbow and white, and the garlic flavor was exceptionally productive last year. Another new secret late last season was rolling any kind of bait in Berkley Trout Dust, which adds a unique flavor and texture that triggers reluctant biters.
Whenever visibility is lessened due to rainy conditions, the white lightning color alone or mixed with a contrasting color has been deadly. A favorite trick of the lake regulars is to roll the Power Bait in an elongated worm or grub shape instead of a simple ball.
There are times when the fish simply want plain, unadorned nightcrawlers. If the crawlers are very big, cut them in half. Inflating nightcrawlers with air so that they float up off the bottom catches a lot more fish.
LEADERS AND HOOKS
As previously mentioned, bait leaders should be very light. Using the invisible Berkley 100-Percent Fluorocarbon material can give an additional edge. Under clear-water conditions, bait leaders can be in the 12 to 18-inch range. If muddy conditions limit underwater visibility, shorten bait leaders up to no more than 6 or 8 inches in length.
By far the most popular bait rig is a 1/8 ounce sliding sinker on the main line, with either a small snap swivel or Carolina-keeper to keep the sinker above the hook. Sometimes the ultra-slow sinking speed of a water-filled “floating sinker” [casting bubble] will tempt finicky trout.
Under normal conditions, a size #16 or #18 treble hook works well with Power Bait, or when combining different baits together on one hook. With live nightcrawlers, a #8 or #10 single hook works best.
MINI PLASTICS AND MORE
The past few seasons have seen many anglers forego natural bait completely. One of the most effective being Berkley Mice Tails, which replicate the “power mouse” rig that previously had to be put together by the angler. Best all-around color last season was the white head/pink tail, while the fluorescent red head/chartreuse tail was best in stained water, and the natural head/fluorescent red tail got the nod in clear water.
The Berkley Gulp! Pinched Crawlers in both floating and sinking versions are also extremely good; no doubt the heavy garlic scent is the key. Best choice for clear or all-around conditions is the natural color, and the chartreuse for stained conditions. Some savvy experts add a Gulp! Salmon Egg for contrasting color.
Easiest of the rigging methods with the above baits is "split-shot style". Simply tie on a #10 to #14 fine wire hook. Then squeeze on a small splitshot sinker about 18 inches above the line. The sliding-sinker rig as used with Power Bait also works well. The secret is again using the lightest possible monofilament or fluorocarbon line. Using 4-pound will work, but the real trick is dropping down to 2-pound test line.
Another hot rigging method is well-known in the bass fishing world, and is called as "drop-shotting". With the sinker on the bottom, a hook is tied between 6 and 36 inches up the line, which allows a floating Power Trout Worm or Gulp! Minnow to appear "suspended" above the bottom.
The 3-inch Power Trout Worms have been phenomenal trout producers for the past several seasons, and can also be fished using the rigs listed above, or just like a real worm under a bobber. Use a regular bobber, and let the bait hang anywhere from 3 to 4 feet under it if the fish are near the surface. A rarely practiced secret trick is to use a "slip bobber" that allows the Power Trout Worm or sinking Pinched ‘Crawler to be suspended at any depth, even in deep water. Top colors are orange peel or chartreuse.
The Berkley Atomic Tubes or Berkley Atomic Teasers can be fished alone or under a bobber. One of the hottest tips is to take a 2-inch piece of Power Trout Worm or Gulp! in a contrasting color, and use it as a "trailer" on the hook of the Atomic Tube.
The Atomic Teasers come with the trailer already attached. The tiny tubes should also be fished on the lightest possible line. Last year's hot colors are white/orange and chartreuse/orange, but the best choice changes from day to day.
Flatlining is the overwhelming trolling choice at Irvine, although a minority of anglers do well with either downrigger or leadcore line approaches. Fishing is often good enough that you can simply drag a lure behind the boat and catch fish, but the savvy angler will stagger 2 or 3 lines at different lengths behind the boat.
Trolling in an “S” pattern alternately speeds up and slows down the lures, and pulls them through a lot of water that the boat did not go over, which presents the lures to “unspooked” fish. Rapalas and similar plugs should generally be trolled at 1.2 to 2.1 mph, although jaded brown trout sometimes react to a lure zipping along at 2.5 to 3.0 mph, and some soft plastics should be presented at 1.1 mph or even slower.
The workhorse trolling lure here is the firetiger-color Rapala Countdown CD03 or CD05, and the new Scatter-Rap Countdown SCRCD07 in gold/fluorescent red or firetiger showed great promise at the end of last season. When the fish want a bit more wiggle, the Rapala Ultra-Light Shad ULS04 or the even smaller Ultra-Light Crank ULC03 in firetiger or clown colors, and when inland steelhead are in the mix, a little hot pink or blue added to the color choices seems to help. By the time late spring rolls around, Jointed Rapala J05’s in brook trout or brown trout colors can trigger bites from jaded fish.
Downrigger or leadcore line trollers sometimes use the same lures as above, but more often go for metal, with the cop-car or bikini-color Luhr Jensen Needlefish being the majority choice, occasionally trailing a flashy Jensen Trout/Kokanee Dodger. Downriggers are usually set at 12 to 25 feet, with leadcore line aficionados usually dragging 3 to 6 colors of the stuff.
SCENTS AND FLAVORINGS
Many anglers swear by certain scents or flavorings to attract more strikes. Some home-made formulas like licorice and vanilla are good for masking "human scent" that can turn fish off. First and foremost, all anglers should be sure that their hands are completely free of repulsive scents like gasoline, sunscreen, or perfumes.
The Gulp Alive! Spray was shown to be a phenomenal producer last season. Best scents were the garlic or crawdad flavors, applied to literally everything from trolling lures to live nightcrawlers.
Historically one of the most productive scents has been the liquid Berkley Trout Dip. Use the green "garlic" flavor on nightcrawlers, the yellow "corn" flavor on Power Bait, along with the red "salmon egg" flavor on trolling and casting lures.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Shorebound anglers can do well off the point at Trout Island, near the docks, and the West Shore Road [a favorite of shore anglers] is now open to vehicles about halfway to the dam. Trollers can also investigate the Santiago Flats, Rocky Point, Sierra Cove and the dam buoy line.
Above all, be flexible, the fish can really move around a lot. If you don't get any bites within about 45 minutes, and nobody around you is catching anything, move to another location. The staff at the Irvine Lake Pro Shop [714-649-9111] is happy to give out information on the most productive spots.
The Kid’s Lagoon will also be stocked with trout for the opener, and is reserved for families with children age 12 and under.
The lake is open 7 days a week during trout season. Fishing hours will be 6:00 AM to 4:00 PM Sunday through Thursday, and until 5:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays. The Pro Shop and Snack Bar will open at 5:30 AM for help with rigging and awesome breakfast burritos. FOLLOW IRVINE LAKE ON FACEBOOK, ON THE WEB AT IRVINELAKE.NET OR CALL 714-649-9111
Hmmmmmmmmm!!!! Is that mean there is no more catfish in the lake since trout is stocking?
Thanks you in advance
I'll give you a tip come trout opener......... leave the trout gear at home and fish cats. You will not be disappointed.
There's still cats in there, they just will stock trout instead of cats and not be open late.
Last year people were catching cats all of trout season.
A few anglers will do one rod for each.
Great info given, Jimmy.
I'll just reinforce what he said. If not catching fish, change locations, colors, depth, leader length, etc till you find what they want.
One days set up may not work the next.
thanks all for your input, i will definetly do like you say chris :)
Great tips as always Jimmy!
Thanks for the refresher course.