Fishing at Cachuma Lake
Cachuma Lake is one of Southern California's finest fishing lakes because of the lake-bottom topography of rocky drop-offs, shallow areas, and aquatic plant beds -- all great habitat for different kinds of fish. During normal (non-drought) years, it supports large populations of large mouth and small mouth bass, crappie, bluegill, red-ear sunfish, channel catfish, and rainbow trout. For current fishing conditions, see the Weekly Fishing Report link below or call the Cachuma Lake Marina and Boat Rentals at (805) 688-4040.
Trout Plants: In cooperation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, a Private Stocking Permit was approved for the 2021/2022 season. In total, 16,000-pounds have been permitted. Four stocking dates have been scheduled for fall, winter and spring. The fish will range in size from half-pound "catchables" to eight pound trophies and will come from Mt. Lassen Trout Farms, Inc. in Paynes Creek, California.
Stocking Restrictions: Southern California Steelhead occur in the Santa
Ynez River, this is the main reason stocking is restricted at Cachuma Lake. It
is the state's responsibility to ensure trout stocking is not impacting
Steelhead downstream of the lake, so for that reason, efforts have been made to
limit stocking when the lake is at a higher percentage chance for spilling, based on gathered historical elevation data. If you would like further information about
stocking please visit, www.wildlife.ca.gov,
or if you wish to speak to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's South Coast Regional Environmental Scientist, please call Matt Lucero at (858) 467-4262.
Bait fishing, trolling, or casting artificial lures are methods used for catching rainbow trout. Trout from 12-21 inches are frequently caught. The Cachuma trout record is 15 pounds! For good results, try using your equipment as described below:
- Salmon eggs: Use a single size 14-16 salmon egg hook with an egg sinker on a 4-6 pound test line; attach a swivel to the line, and use a leader of 2 pound test.
- Cheese and egg combo: Again use 4-6 pound test line, sinker, and swivel. Attach a leader to two hooks; an egg hook and a treble baited with cheese.
- Floating night crawler rig: Use the same setup as above except use a size 6-8 hook baited with an inflated night crawler.
- Trolling: Use a lead core line with a 6-8 pound test leader approximately six feet long, and one of the following lures: Needlefish, Castmaster, Wobble-rite.
Since the optimum water temperature for trout fishing is 52 degrees F., the depth of fishing varies with the seasons. Fall -- troll at 7-8 colors; Winter -- 3-4 colors; Early Spring -- 5-6 colors; Early Summer -- 6-8 colors.
An angler can catch large mouth bass at Cachuma in many different ways. During the spawning season (April, May, June) casting artificial lures such as Jitterbugs, Hula Poppers, and Rebel Rattlers in the shallows is very productive. In summer, fall, and winter, when fish move into deeper waters, success can be found using many deep water jigs such as Pig and Jigs, or lead-headed plastic worms. Crawdads and night crawlers are probably best for bait fishermen.
Small mouth bass preceded large mouth bass into the shallows for spawning. White, silver, or gold lures or spoons cast parallel to drop offs, or parallel to the shore on points, will often produce exciting strikes. When small mouth bass begin to spawn (March, April, May) crawdads seem to be the best bait.
Cachuma Lake is well known for large catfish; the record fish is 32 3/4 pounds! These fish can be taken in the back of coves and near inlets. Use mackerel, with a large hook of 1 to 3-0, and 10 to 20 pound line. Crappie are cyclic breeders and can produce large catches, usually in the spring, however, high-yield years are difficult to predict. When fishing for crappie in the spring,, look for them among snags in the water. Use white, yellow, or silver and red microjigs, light lines of 4-6 pound test, and light action rods. Cast microjigs to obstructions. After allowing the jig to sink, quickly lift the rod tip over it, and retrieve line repeatedly.