Expert fishing advice, Queen lake tours at Big Bear Marina
Big Bear Marina is "The Place on the Lake" offering full marina services and expert fishing advice. Pontoon and fishing boat rentals, Saturday sunset and daily lake tours aboard Big Bear Queen, fishing charters with expert guide Curt Dills and jet ski rentals. 500 Paine Court, Big Bear Lake. (909) 866-3218.
Trout bite strong on Big Bear Lake
A week earlier it would have been good for more than two thousand bucks during the annual May Trout Classic. As it was the 11.65 lb. rainbow trout Jaymes Robillard caught on Memorial Day was only worth dinner for...oh, a dozen or so.
And yes, Robillard was entered in the fishing tournament. "I caught a four-pounder at May Trout Classic and it didn’t even make the leaderboard," he said.
There are years a four-pound catch pays cash money but 2012 wasn’t one of them. In fact the lowest paying ninth place fish came in at a whopping 7.39 lbs., good enough to win most years. All the others weighed in over eight pounds up to the top spot, an 11.07 fish caught by Dan Marshall of Sugarloaf. A big fish to be sure, but it pales in comparison to the lake record pictured on the front cover of 18.69 lbs. taken by Trabuco Hills resident Erin Dominguez in 2009.
Big fish weren’t just being landed at the tournament either. Bryan Tiemersma caught an 8.10 lb. trout. Then there’s 13-year-old Katherine Schenkkan of Corona. She was fishing down by the dam—without a net—when she hooked up with a 10.74 lb. monster on four pound test line.
"She was afraid she might lose it without a net," said Alan Sharp of Big Bear Marina, the lake’s official weigh station. "So she dove in and went after it. And she got it with her bare hands! She came in dripping wet but had her catch."
Big fish are often the story around the time of May Trout Classic since jumbos are planted for the event, both Fish and Game and trout homegrown by Municipal Water District. "We’ve had large catches for weeks," Sharp said.
Lake smallmouth bass, bluegill records set
May also saw two lake records set, albeit by tiny margins. Mike Madden bested the smallmouth bass mark of 3.50 with his 3.64 lb. catch while Clayton Green set a new bluegill record.
A year ago at this time Big Bear Lake was red-hot with fish practically jumping into boats. This season has reverted back to a more normal pace, perhaps because water temperature is 5° warmer than 2011. Plus water clarity is up which drives the trout down lower.
Master fishing guide Curt Dills at Big Bear Marina takes groups out on charters and last year led clients to an incredible 4,717 trout, 50% more than his previous best the year before of 3,000.
"Last two years have been phenomenal," Dills said. "This year looks like another good fishing season but not like last year. There are lots of big fish being caught. We brought in an 8.11 lb. trout on Friday and Saturday a six-pounder.
"Every day is different," he added. "I like to start trolling with one topline rod, another down 10 feet, another 15 and so forth till we start getting bites. Same with color of lure. Mix different depths and colors—needlefish and rapalas are some of my favorite lures."
Windy Point has been especially productive. Old Gray’s Landing is a favorite spot along with shady areas on the north shore. As temperatures warm trout will migrate west toward the dam.
"The bait of choice on Big Bear Lake is by far Berkley Powerbait," Sharp said. "More fish are caught on Powerbait than everything else combined. Probably 80% of big fish caught on bait are Powerbait."
Sharp would know since Big Bear Marina is "The place on the lake" for fishing. Home of the lake’s three big trout tournaments, the marina also boasts the lake’s only official tournament scale.
Big Bear Marina is again a Berkley pro shop for 2012 with a full line of pure fishing products available. That includes Berkley Powerbait and Gulp, Shakespeare, Penn, Abu Garcia, Trilene, Stren, Pflueger, Fenwick and Mitchell plus a complete supply of rods, reels, bait and line.
Big Bear Marina has added Standup Paddleboards, the latest rage to hit the lake, to its rental fleet. Stand up on the surfboard-like board and paddle away for a great way to enjoy the lake and get exercise at the same time. Big Bear Marina also now offers wi-fi for slipholders and customers.
Green continues to be the theme at Big Bear Marina, which is selling all live bait in Earthsmart products that contain no styrofoam. It’s the first compostable bait cup on the market. In addition, as a California Clean Marina, the facility recycles all shrinkwrap used for winter storage.
Big Bear Marina also continues to operate one of the newest fleets of pontoon boats on the lake and all boats were reupholstered in the off-season. Big Bear Marina rents waverunners, kayaks and more, in addition to daily sails of tour boat Big Bear Queen skippered by the lake’s most experienced and knowledgeable captain.