Dax Wood, aka “the fish whisperer”, Fishing Big Bear Lake
Thought this was an interesting article published in the Big Bear Grizzly regarding trout fishing in Big Bear Lake.
Catch on to help with Big Bear fish plants
There’s a lot to be said for a day spent trout fishing on Big Bear Lake. There’s the camaraderie, a oneness with nature, the hope that springs eternal with every cast.
But last year, those hopes were dashed for many trout anglers, who experienced a lake of declining rewards. And make no mistake, for many if not most fishers, catching is the best part of fishing.
So what made the worm turn for the worse?
Trout plants by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in 2013 were roughly half of previous seasons, Mike Stephenson, lake operations manager for the Big Bear Municipal Water District, told The Grizzly in November. About 157,000 pounds of trout were stocked. Expect a similar number in 2014, as the Department’s fish plant program struggles with a fry-size budget and a costly new requirement that hatchery fish be infertile to avoid breeding with wild strains.
You didn’t need a solunar table to figure out what would happen: Big Bear is a put-and-take lake, and the size of the trout harvest is directly proportional to the size of the planting.
Dry, mild winters also may be a contributing factor, resulting in lower water levels and increased angling pressure, which reduces the number of holdover trout available in the spring.
Stephenson acknowledged to The Grizzly late last year that the lake used to be a 10 on a scale of 1-to-10 for trout fishing. Last season, he said, he’d give the lake a 7. The water district already spends about $45,000 on fish plants, Stephenson said, and can’t afford to pick up the slack lines left by the state.
In many places, poor fishing would be little cause for concern. But in Big Bear, when the fishing suffers, the local economy suffers.
Trout tournaments and trout fishing attract thousands to town, often in the shoulder seasons when area merchants and lodging providers need a boost. Marinas, bait and tackle shops, and guide services are important employers in Big Bear, and as the fishing goes, so goes business. Even the real estate industry hinges in part on a productive fishing lake, and the resulting word-of-mouth advertising. For many, tight lines are an important part of the Big Bear lifestyle.
So what’s a town to do?
Officials with at least one local tournament— the Jim Hall Memorial May Trout Classic—are taking a proactive approach to improving the fishing. Tournament officials are reducing prize money to plant more trophy rainbow trout in the lake in advance of the tournament May 17 and 18.
Similarly, organizers of the 2014 Aaron’s Big Bear Lake Bass Tournament Championship series are accepting donations from anglers to pay for a bass plant.
Other outdoors and business organizations should follow suit, and cast about for ways to put more fish in the lake.
Local residents could ask their state legislators to support Big Bear by increasing funding for fish plants.
And anglers can lend a hand by handling trout carefully, and practicing catch-and-release.