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Fishing Report

Take a fishing trip to Big Bear Lake, California and catch your share of trout!

Be sure to get the latest Big Bear Lake fishing report before your travels.

Fishing reports provided by Jim Matthews with Big Bear Sporting Goods, Alan Sharp, Big Bear Marina, Fowler's Fish Tails by Cliff Fowler, John Cantrell with Cantrell Fishing Guide and the Big Bear Municipal Water District

Don't miss Big Bear's fishing tournaments this season where you can compete to win cash and prizes. View list of Big Bear Lake's top trout and bass fishing tournaments.

October 24, 2016

The fish are still biting at Big Bear Lake as the 2016 season comes to a close. Watch the latest video with legend John Cantrell as he looks back at some of the visitors on the Charter.

October 13, 2016

Watch the latest "Think like a Fish" hosted by John Cantrell, Big Bear Lake's fishing guide. This week's report includes the results from Aaron's Bass Tournament, Western Outdoor's Troutfest, and of course, the best fishing spots for Fall.

July 15, 2016

Watch this week's "Think like a Fish" hosted by legendary fishing guide John Cantrell

June 27, 2016
"Think like a Fish" hosted by legendary fishing guide John Cantrell. This week's fishing report includes info on water and weather temps, fishing tips, bait recommendations and the best fishing spots.
June 6, 2016
"Think like a Fish" hosted by legendary fishing guide John Cantrell. This week's fishing report includes info on this weekend's "Fishin' $50K" Trout Derby, water and weather temps, fishing tips, bait recommendations and the best fishing spots.
May 27, 2016
"Think like a Fish" hosted by legendary fishing guide John Cantrell. This week's fishing report includes fishing tips for Memorial Weekend, bait recommendations and the best fishing spots.
May 19, 2016
"Think like a Fish" hosted by legendary fishing guide John Cantrell. This week's fishing report includes upcoming fishing tournament info, water temp, bait, best fishing spots.
May 2, 2016
"Think Like A Fish" S1E2 May 2, 2016, hosted by Big Bear Lake legendary fishing guide, John Cantrell. Find out what lures are working and current lake conditions for fishermen. This weekly video is for Big Bear Lake, California.

June 19, 2015

Infographic on Fish Limits in Big Bear Lake

May 5, 2015

Yo! Did you hear it? The sound of one million rainbow trout being planted into Big Bear Lake. You heard me right. ONE MILLION. The blue light was flashing and the District purchased some beauties to over-flow our Lake for this season and seasons to come. I'm keeping half of the trout secured in my super-secret location until they grow larger for you anglers to catch a toad down the road.The carry-over from last fall and winter are bringing in some nice numbers for people drifting from Rock Wall to the Zebra Room or center-lake from the Observatory to Windy Point. My thoughts are using dough baits and night crawlers if you want to reel in dinner. Trolling hasn't fared quite as well and water temps are in the mid-fifties. But for you die-hard trollers, the rainbow trout colored Rapalas will be your best bet. Keep your lines low. These babies are staying fairly deep between 12-20ft. Give it time. They will be moving east soon with the temperatures rising.The bass are still in pre-spawn and haven't shown all their hiding places yet. You bassers hold tight. When these guys emerge from their winter haunts, they will be hungry, aggressive and protecting the nest. Please remember these fish grow very slow and will be spawning in early spring so return them quickly to fight another day. You just have to be patient for that time and then wham, bam, thank you ma’am.Catfish and bluegill are still not showing, but the carp are coming out in the warmer afternoons just in time to get your shooting skills sharpened for the BBMWD's Carp Round-Up June 20th-21st. A new category for fishing only is added to this year’s event and we expect a giant turn-out and even better prizes.
I expect those crazy, in the news, read-all-about-it, record breaking numbers to come rolling in this season. Don't miss out. Share your photos with us!
-Mike, BBMWD

April 3, 2015

Fair to good trout action over the past week with the best bite at the dam, throughout the west end of the lake, and along the north shore. Top action has continued to be on PowerBait, Gulp!, and inflated night crawlers fished with a two- to three-foot leader and small treble hook. The best bite has been in the mornings and evenings. Anglers are reminded that all tributaries to the lake are closed to fishing March 1 through May 31 to protect the spawning rainbow trout. The bass bite has started to take off as the fish move shallow for the spawn. Phil Bougie, San Bernardino, landed and released a 6-10 bass, while Tyler Voss, Big Bear, did the same thing with a four-pounder. Other species are still very slow. The Big Bear Municipal Water District (BBMWD) opened The Carol Morrison East Launch Ramp for the 2015 season on April 1, and all five private Big Bear Lake marinas are now open. On May 8, the Duane Boyer West Launch Ramp will open. The BBMWD also planted approximately one million fingerling rainbows on April 1. These fish are expected to be from six to 12 inches long within three months. For more fishing information: Big Bear Sporting Goods at 909-866-3222.

September 15, 2014

Trout anglers across California are very familiar with the short fall of fish from Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and private hatcheries, due to lawsuits, budget cuts, and drought. It has changed fisheries throughout the state as well as Big Bear Lake. While anglers are still catching trout, the fish tend to be smaller and fewer, with more time and patience needed to fill a stringer.
Mike Stephenson, general manager for Big Bear Municipal Water District (BBMWD) is well aware of the shortfall and is taking action to turn it around. Stephenson is planning to expand the trout rearing cages for the already successful program by building a war chest of funds from Big Bear Lake tournaments, The City of Big Bear Lake, and the BBMWD budget. While this is a great way to enhance the Big Bear Lake fishery in the future, the more important question is what about now? What about TroutfesT a mere two weeks away? Well, Stephenson has secured a contract that will provide trophy, sub-trophy and numerous catchable sized trout for the 10th Annual TroutfesT. This very well could be the best tournament of the year in Big Bear Lake.
Some anglers may have already given up on trouting this year. However those anglers just might want to grab their gear and enter Big Bear Lake's TroutfesT for not only a chance at a new Klamath boat or thousands of dollars in cash and prizes, but also for that catch of a lifetime, or at least this year.

September 9, 2014

As the days shorten and sunlight fades, Big Bear Lake is starting to fall into autumn. Water temperatures have come down to 65 degrees at the dam and below 70 degrees as far east as Juniper Pt. Oxygen levels remain good from top to bottom at the dam with the levels just short of the bottom at the west ramp. Some folks have produced nice stringers of Big Bear bows from a pound to three pounds.

The key has been to use a variety of lures, while being flexible as to speed and location while trolling. Trout are hitting spoons in just about all finishes at one time or another from one to three colors down, with surface action coming early on Rapalas in gold/orange/red colors. One lure can be hot one minute and not the next. Patience and switching out lures on a regular basis is important. Dragging the same lure around for hours after you get one fish will not fill your stringer. Flashers and crawlers have caught some of the bigger trout lately, so be sure to add that method to your arsenal.

August 3, 2014

Before the skies darkened and started to rumble, the trout bite on Big Bear was pretty darn good. Anglers trolling the lake from Trout Alley to the dam enjoyed limit fishing from the surface to 15 feet down. Three colors of leadcore was the mark for Thomas Buoyants in gold and Needlefish in red dot frog. The surface action was best with Rapalas in gold/black, trolled way back at 150 feet. While flashers and crawlers had been hot, the bite fell off for this setup for now.

Lake temperatures are holding at 67 degrees at the dam to 69 near the west boat launch ramp. Temperatures should begin to drop as the days get shorter with less direct sunlight. Oxygen levels improved with high levels throughout the lake. While the oxygen is good everywhere the water temperatures are the reason the trout are concentrated in the western third of the lake. This last week Mike Stephenson, general manager of Big Bear Municipal Water District (BBMWD) gained enough confidence with the current conditions to do a trout plant. The BBMWD plant along with a Department of Fish and Wildlife plant has made for a lot of happy anglers.

Pan fish remain elusive as they are in other Southern California lakes. Nobody knows why they seem to be hiding out. They are not near the shore and appear to be suspended in deeper water, not willing to bite, or hold in large schools. Bass fishing remains good as the bass are holding in deeper water and coming up for buzz and crank baits and also drop-shotted baits. No news from the nocturnal anglers on the whisker fish at this time.

July 22, 2014

While the trout bite is far from wide open on the lake, trout are coming to the net for the patient angler. With water temperatures rising quickly on the lake and oxygen going away from the bottom to 23 from the surface, it is time to spend time, and adjust to the changing conditions.

Fishing from shore requires a slip bobber set-up from 15 to 20 ft. from the west ramp to the dam. Fishing for trout east of those areas is a tough go. Drift fishing in the western third of the lake with dough bait and crawlers off a slip bobber is the best bet for bait anglers.

Trollers working the same area are seeing trout hit Neddlefish in Lady Bug, Watermelon and Red Dot Frog patterns. CD-03 Rapalas in the Fire Tiger color are working well on over cast days. The fish are active from 5 to 20 ft. down. Many other lures also work from time to time, so it is important to switch out your offering on a regular basis.

The DFW did a plant this past week; the arrival of new fish will help. BBMWD does not plan any additional stockings of pen or hatchery trout, until the fall and TroutFest time when the waters will have cooled.

June 25, 2014

Well, it was just a matter of time. Just 11 days after Fishin' for $50K was completed on Big Bear Lake, the tagged trout that was good for $50K was reeled in by Kenny Tanaka, 13 years old, of Thousand Oaks, CA. Kenny landed the trout while on a charter trip with Cantrell Guide Service on June 19. The tagged trout hit a Needlefish trolled near the dam. While Kenny did not receive the $50,000, he did receive assorted gifts and prizes from The Big Bear Visitors Bureau. Kenny had not heard of the derby until after his catch, but he plans to enter it next year.

Trout anglers are finding an up and down bite on the lake. Trollers using crawlers and flies in the early hours of the day are finding fish at one to two colors. As the sun hits the surface the trout are going deeper at three to four and hitting Needlefish. The trout are concentrated from Windy Point to the dam. Shore anglers continue to soak crawlers and dough bait hung from slip bobbers in the same area along the North Shore with decent results.

Bass action has slowed a bit. The smallies have been elusive while the largemouth has been sitting on beds in a defensive mood. Crappie and bluegill are also hard to find as one day they like a spot and the next cannot be found. Hide and seek spots for these species include; Mallard and Boulder Bays, Eagle Point and Marina Point.

June 2, 2014

By: Alan Sharp

With the weather and wind finally setting up in a "normal" pattern, the fish are responding to the favorable conditions. All species from trout, to bass and panfish are being landed along the lake. The trout are scattered from the dam to the observatory. Anglers trolling from the surface to 3.5 colors down on leadcore are catching nice trout from one and half to three pounds. Trollers are seeing surface action on flies and crawlers early in the day, then down to 3.5 later in the day on Rapalas and Tasmanian Devils. Bait anglers working the west end along the north shore are also in on the action as long as a long leader of 3 to 5 feet is used.Bass are continuing to hit crayfish type jigs along the docks around the lake. The bass are ranging in size from two to four pounds. Crappie and bluegill are putting a smile on the faces of young and old anglers when they present a mealworm or mini jig in 5 to 10 feet of water in Boulder Bay and Papoose Bay near rocks and docks.

FISHIN' FOR $50K is this weekend June 7 and June 8. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Big Bear Municipal Water District will be stocking trout for the event. One tagged fish could bring a hefty $50,000 prize to a lucky angler. The event offers lots of cash, tackle and fishing gear prizes to anglers. To learn more about this great family event call 800-424-4232 or www.bigbear.com.

Upcoming Fishing Events in Big Bear Lake

  • June 7 & 8: Fishin' for $50K
    Info: 800-424-4232

  • June 21: Aaron's Bass Tournament Championship Series
    Info: 800-475-3166

May 27, 2014

By: Alan Sharp

For the anglers plying the waters of Big Bear Lake, it has been a confusing week. Dazed by high winds, snow on the ridge, and rain in the valley; not only are the anglers wondering what's going on...so are the fish. Trout fishing that had been strong in the western end of the lake went flat this past week. The trout are scattered around the lake due to high oxygen levels and even water temps. Trout have moved back into the "Trout Triangle" and are hitting on trolled crawlers (with or without flashers), flies and CD Rapalas all trolled on the surface or as little as 10 feet down. This is a big contrast from the past month when three to five colors of leadcore was the norm. Bait anglers along the shore or drift fishing are using slip bobbers rigged shallow with dough baits and crawlers.

While the trout fishing has been inconsistent, the large and small mouth bass are not confused. They are hitting crayfish jigs fished near docks in a pre-spawn binge. Working the docks, with a slow retrieval of jigs has produced double digit counts on largemouth in the 3 pound range with an occasional 5 pounder mixed in. Smallies are showing, but less active than the bucket mouths.

It appears that with the end of Sprinter we jumped right into summer. As the waters warm the panfish and catfish will go off. Crappie and Bluegill are spotty now. They are starting to school up near the shore, but are moving around, much like the trout. If you find todays spot, hit it hard with mini-jigs tipped with nuggets or worms. No catfish sightings yet. Look for them to come on when the warms a bit more.

Upcoming Fishing Events in Big Bear Lake

  • June 7 & 8: Fishin' for $50K
    Info: 800-424-4232
  • June 21: Aaron's Bass Tournament Championship Series
    Info: 800-475-3166

May 19, 2014

By: Alan Sharp

The May Trout Classic, now in its 32nd year, has never had a woman win the top prize. That changed this weekend. For the first time in 32 years Jean Sotiros Fontana became the first woman angler to take the top prize at Big Bear Lake's May Trout Classic, which is known as the Grand Daddy of Big Bear trout tournaments.

Sotiros landed her first place trout drift fishing near the Solar Observatory. The 3.92 pound trout took her offering of Pautzke's Fire Bait, and her way to the grand prize of $2000. Jean had come to the weigh-in on Saturday, May 17 at around 3 pm. One hour before the next scheduled weigh-in. Jean had the trout in a cooler bag, with no ice or water. A tournament official saw the fish and realized it was a nice sized trout that could put her in the lead. He suggested to Jean, that she ice and water down the fish to help preserve it for the anxious hour before she could officially weigh-in. Good advice. The fish weighed in at .04 pounds more than the leader at the time, giving her the lead and on Sunday and the title of first lady angler to win the May Trout Classic.

Nathan Marshall, Big Bear City took the honors in the Junior Division (12-15 yrs.) with a 2.29 pound bow caught on a trolled Needlefish in Metcalf Bay. Tessa Chan, San Dimas was the Pee-Wee Division (5-11 yrs.) winner with a 1.89 pound trout she landed on a nightcrawler off Windy Point.

May 5, 2014

By: Alan Sharp

Big Bear Lake is the place to be during the month of May in Southern California. Trout fishing is excellent, bucket mouth bass are busy and the smallies are heading to spawn. The DFW stocked the lake the past two weeks. With the addition of the fresh trout, the holdovers have come alive. While the stockers are in the ten to twelve inch class, the holdovers are running from two to three pounds of hard fighting bows. The May Trout Classic (May 17-18, 2014) will add even more large trout to the lake.

Big Bear Charter Fishing Guide Matt Keller has been working trout alley and the mouth of Boulder Bay this past week with great results. CD Rapalas, in brook trout and gold fluorescent red, along with X-Rap Rapalas in the rainbow trout finish, have landed limits when trolled on leadcore or off a down rigger at ten to twenty feet. "Old School" flashers and crawlers, trolled at the same depth, are also putting fish on the stringer.

Largemouth Bass are very active pre-spawn, holding off points in fifteen feet of water. Best baits are drop shotted Robo Worms and skirted crayfish jigs. The bass are also showing along docks all over the lake. Smallmouth bass have moved on and off beds due to chilly weather, but are now setting up in the back of bays for spawning. Crappie and bluegill remain sluggish, but should come on strong as the weather continues to improve.

April 28, 2014

By: Alan Sharp

This past weekend was the wrong one to spend a day or two on the waters of Big Bear Lake. With a late winter blast bringing several of inches of snow, high winds, and wind chills in the teens, the anglers stayed at home.

Before the weather went south, the trout fishing remained good. The water temp is high for this time of year between Juniper Pt. to the observatory at 58 degrees. As a result the trout are starting to head west a bit ahead of schedule. The latest storm should help bring the fish back to the "Trout Triangle" again. In the meantime, more fish are showing from Windy Pt. to the dam, where water temps are 54 degrees.

Trolling leadcore as always got the best results. From 2 colors early then down to 4 later in the day, with CD Rapalas in tow, has produced limits of holdover trout. Trout over two pounds are common with the occasional three pounder mixed in.Bait anglers along the shore are having better luck from the west ramp to the dam along the north shore. While fishing off the bottom works, using a slip bobber, will suspend your dough bait or inflated night crawler just above the weeds that are starting to grow off the lake bottom.

The first of the lake's trout tournaments is just two weeks away. The 32nd Jim Hall Memorial May Trout Classic is the "Grand Daddy" of them all and offers Big Cash Prizes $$$, Fishing Tackle and Raffle giveaways plus free Pautzke's Firebait for all.

April 21, 2014

By: Alan Sharp

Big Bear Lake is known as a premier trout fishery, but did you hear about the bass in the lake? Home to both small and largemouth the bass have done well the past few years. Case in point, Scott Eberhard local "bassaholic," from Big Bear City claimed a new lake record with a 6.35 lb. bucket mouth. While this may not seem big compared to the ones caught in other So. Cal. Lakes, Big Bear has a northern strain of bass, that don't grow to double digit size.

Scott was fishing in the morning on 4/6/14, when the bass hit a Boss brush hog jig. Scott said, "We were fishing an offshore ledge that runs 7' to 14', I was bringing the jig slowly down the ledge and she thumped it good!" Scott's bass bested the previous mark of 5.9 lbs. from 2008. After taking the lunker to the lakes official weigh station at Big Bear Marina, Scott released the record bass back into the lake.

Trout fishing was up and down this past week. Between a full blood moon, weather fronts moving through and a little rain, the trout seemed as confused as anglers, when picking the right time to be on the bite. With water clarity high, days with light winds helped put trout on the stringer. Calm days were less productive.

The tried and true methods for trolling and bait fishing remained the same. Trollers from two to four colors of leadcore got hit on a variety of lures, in a variety of colors. So, change lures often, until you find the magic for the day. Inflated crawlers and dough bait anglers did well from the north shore, along the length of the lake.

Upcoming Fishing Events in Big Bear Lake:

  • May 17: Aaron's Bass Tournament Championship Series
    Info: 800-475-3166
  • May 17 & 18: Jim Hall Memorial May Trout Classic
    Info: 909-585-4007
  • June 7 & 8: Fishin' for $50K
    Info: 800-424-4232
  • June 21: Aaron's Bass Tournament Championship Series
    Info: 800-475-3166

Big Bear Lake Marinas:

Big Bear Marina, 500 Paine Ct.: 909-866-3218
Captain John’s Marina, 39369 North Shore Dr. (Hwy. 38)
Holloway’s Marina & RV Park, 398 Edgemoor Road: 909-866-5706
Pine Knot Marina, 439 Pine Knot Ave.: 909-866-7766
Pleasure Point Marina, 603 Landlock Landing Road: 909-866-8455
North Shore Landing, 38573 Northshore Drive: 909-878-4386

April 14, 2014

By: Alan Sharp

Spring is in the air and waters of Big Bear Lake. The 2014 fishing season started off with anglers whacking the trout all over the lake. Holdover Rainbow Trout in the 2 to 3 pound range are providing anglers with great hard fighting, good eating fish. Uniform temperatures of 48 degrees, with oxygen levels high, have the trout hitting in all areas of the lake.

Shore anglers working the North Shore from east to west are doing well on dough baits and night crawlers. Fish close to shore early and late, then deeper during mid-day when the sun is high and fish go to darker water. Be sure to vary your leader length, until you find the zone the trout are in.

Trolling, as always, is the most effective way to land a limit of trout. Surface action with light spinning tackle is working at the crack of dawn. As the sun hits the water, be ready to go deeper with leadcore line at 2 to 4 colors. Just about every type of lure is working now. Vary the colors and finish of the tried and true Rapalas, Needlefish and Dick Nite Spoons in your tackle box until you find the magic for that day.

On a recent trip with Guide Curt Dills, father and son Rick and Matt Chavez from Orange County had a great day on Big Bear Lake. They both got their limits of hefty holdovers, trolling in "Trout Triangle" (Eagle Pt., Observatory, Lagonita Pt.) At the end of the day Matt exclaimed, "This has been the best trout fishing trip I’ve ever had."

Upcoming Fishing Events in Big Bear Lake:

  • May 17: Aaron's Bass Tournament Championship Series
    Info: 800-475-3166
  • May 17 & 18: Jim Hall Memorial May Trout Classic
    Info: 909-585-4007
  • June 7 & 8: Fishin' for $50K
    Info: 800-424-4232
  • June 21: Aaron's Bass Tournament Championship Series
    Info: 800-475-3166

Big Bear Lake Marinas:
Big Bear Marina, 500 Paine Ct.: 909-866-3218
Captain John’s Marina, 39369 North Shore Dr. (Hwy. 38)
Holloway’s Marina & RV Park, 398 Edgemoor Road: 909-866-5706
Pine Knot Marina, 439 Pine Knot Ave.: 909-866-7766
Pleasure Point Marina, 603 Landlock Landing Road: 909-866-8455
North Shore Landing, 38573 Northshore Drive: 909-878-4386

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