Big Bear Lake, Ca

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Fishing Big Bear Lake
By Curt Dills


By far the most popular method of fishing for the hard fighting, Rainbow Trout on Big Bear Lake is bait fishing. Early or late in the season, a sliding sinker bait rig is the most popular.  That rig consists of a 1/8 to 1/4 ounce egg sinker threaded onto your main line with a small swivel tied to the end. To the swivel I attach a Jed Welsh pre-tied, two hook bait rig, with 3 lb. test. When I take the rig out of the package, I always cut off and shorten the leader where it attaches to the swivel, so that the first hook is about 6” from the swivel. That way when you are fishing, the first hook is about six inches off the bottom with the second hook above that.   Use Berkley “PowerBait” Floating Bait, Nuggets, Eggs or Worms on your bottom bait rig (which are made to accommodate all of these)


Another very effective rig as the water warms is the slip bobber rig. With a slip bobber rig, where you place the bobber stop determines how deep your bait will be below the bobber. Start by attaching the bobber stop to your main line, then thread on the slip bobber with a 1/8 oz. egg sinker below that, and then tie on a swivel. To the swivel I tie a two hook, Jed Welsh pre-rigged 3 lb. test leader, with size #14 or #16 hooks. This rig allows you to adjust your bait to the depth that the fish are holding in.  Use Berkley “PowerBait” Floating Bait, Nuggets, Eggs or Worms on your slip bobber rig.

slip bobber rig



By far the king of all floating type baits is Berkley’s “PowerBait” and Gulp! Top colors for Big Bear Lake are Chartreuse, rainbow, pink, and orange.  Many anglers also spray scents like Gulp! Garlic on the bait, to make sure they eliminate all human odors.  The most popular way to put the bait on the treble hook has always been to mold a bait ball just large enough to cover the treble hook. However, two new methods have been introduced that have become very popular and productive.

The first is called the “Power Larva”. Using a little more bait than usual, the bait is shaped like a caterpillar larva, giving the bait a live bait look.

The second method is called the “Power Mouse”. To rig a power mouse, mold Berkley Gulp! into a ball just covering all but one of the treble hooks. On the exposed treble hook, add a Berkley Power Trout Worm.

The Power Mouse can be fished on a standard sliding sinker rig, or as bait that you slowly work in with a split shot that can also be deadly.

To rig the Power Mouse as moving bait, it is best that your main line is either 2 lb. or 4 lb. test line. Tie a #16 treble hook to the end of your line, and install a #3 or #5 split shot rigged about 12 to 15 inches above the hook. Cast the Power Mouse out and let it sink to the bottom. Once on the bottom s-l-o-w-l-y reel the bait in, pausing every few feet.

fishing bait



Trolling is one of the most effective way to fish for Rainbow Trout on Big Bear Lake.  The two most common ways to troll are top-lining and leadcore line trolling. To rig for top-line trolling, tie a small ball bearing swivel to your main line. From the swivel, tie about a 3-foot leader (6lb.) with a small Duo-Lock Snap tied to the end.  Also a good thing to do before you start trolling is to run the lure next to the boat to make sure it is running properly. To start top-line trolling, let your lure out 50 to 100 feet behind the boat, check your drag and start trolling. Some lures like a Thomas Buoyant and Lip Ripperz spoons, are designed to be trolled very slowly. If you are going to fast they won’t work right and will twist your line.  My favorite lures for top-line trolling are Floating, CountDown, and Jointed Rapala’s.  Unless it’s an over-cast day, or the wind is blowing, top-line trolling might only work for a few hours in the morning, then again in the afternoon. When top-line trolling slows down, it’s time to start fishing leadcore. 

If you don’t already have a leadcore outfit, I would suggest that you go to a knowledgeable tackle dealer or marina and have them set it up for you. From the lead-core line, tie about a 30 foot leader of 10 lb. test. At the end of the leader, tie a small ball bearing swivel. Then from the swivel tie a 3-foot section of 6lb. test and attach a Duo-Lock Snap to the end.  With lead-core line, every color of line you have “in the water” means your fishing down about five feet. So if you want to fish down 15 feet you need to let out 3 colors. Use the same lures you would use for top- line trolling, plus now you can fish the light metal lures like Needlefish, Dick Nite spoons.

trolling logos


ALWAYS check that the drag on your reel is set right before you start fishing!  I promise some of you will remember reading this when it’s too late!  Slow to moderate speed is the most effective way to fish.  An effective way to find out if you are fishing your lures at the right speed is to hang the lure about three feet down from your rod tip. Then, stick your rod tip in the water and watch for the lure to swim and not spin through the water.

Never troll in straight lines!  Instead, troll in a slow “S” pattern, back and forth. I am sure the trout sometimes follow a lure, but they won’t hit it until it changes speed or direction.  If the bite slows down while top-line trolling during the middle of the day, it doesn’t necessarily mean the fish went deep! In the spring, I rarely fish any deeper than 3 ½ colors even during the middle of the day.  Do not spend a lot of time doing anything that is not working. Fish different areas, change lures, try different depths until you start catching fish. In every lake there are always some fish feeding some where in the lake, regardless of the time of day.  Change lure types and colors if you’re not catching fish.  Be versatile.

trolling s-curve

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