Summer time is finally here in SoCal the calico bass are fired up and are in full spawn effect! Now, the only difference is calico bass are highly aggressive in spawn unlike largemouth bass where you need to entice that bite. Calicos are not like that all, find those conditions and throw only two baits! Lately my choice of poison is the Crystal Minnow 130 in many color ways however the peanut bunker has been the most deadly. The Hydro Minnow LC is also another great choice of bait. Giving its great action and tight wobble action, calicos cannot resist.
I have tried many different ways to fish these two baits and I have found that the swim with the best action when you fish a clip or straight to 25lb -30lb HD Carbon, it really all depends on your preference. I typically like fishing this bait on a conventional set up with a 7’5” heavy action rod and over-sized Shimano bait casting reel. The crystal minnow has proven to me to be the best search bait when hunting for calico bass with its incredible action and the ability to dive to 5ft deep giving it an advantage as it can run under kelp canopy’s and get down closer to the reefs when fishing up tight in the skinny water. Pick one up of each, crystal minnow, and hydro minnow.
People often ask me when I choose one over the other, the truth is let the fish tell you which one they want. I have had days where I really do well on the LC Minnow and then other days that when throwing the 130 Crystal Minnow they are ripping the rod out of my hands. The key is to match the color patterns to the bait, finding the bait, and from there you should be able to locate the aggressive calicos. Once they are actively feeding near the boat you can cast your bait bait to them. Many people believe you have to troll for calicos, that is not the case at all. In some instances the big ones will be right up against the boiler rocks that are being hit by the swell. It’s always worth getting as close as is safe and lobbing some casts into that swell zone.
Rod: Cousins casting rod (SSW 79M-T) 7’9, 12-20 lb, extra fast tip; and Lamiglas Mark Wilson Striper Trolling rod (XCC 795) 7’9, 12-25 lb.
Reel: Diawa reel with a line counter when fishing with multiple people this helps coordinate each others distances behind the boat.
Fishing Line and Hardware: Yo-Zuri TopKnot Mainline fluorocarbon in 20lb test with a Owner 79 lb Hyper Crosslock Snap (a snap-swivel will rob the lure of its action)
Lures: Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow 5 1/4″ in bone white, pink, chartreuse, blue, and others. This lure has a very tight fast wiggle and dives a few feet deeper than the Yo-Zuri Hydro Minnow LC. The Hydro LC is just as effective as the Crystal Minnow, however I use the Hydro LC when trolling in shallower water because it dives from 3-6 feet deep depending on how far behind the boat you are trolling it (130 ft versus 200 ft.) The Hydro LC also has a larger profile than the Crystal Minnow; I like to downsize the lure when the bite is tough. In the Crystal Minnow I prefer the colors: Bone, Florescent Pink, and Chartreuse. The Hydro Minnow LC I always have the best luck on Bone or Purple Black.
Fishing Technique/Application: Water in the river ranges from 48 degrees (winter/early spring) to 62 degrees (summer/fall, or further downriver). When I am fishing all of the above listed lures, I am trolling them upriver or downriver at speeds ranging from 2.5-3.5 mph, with my lure approximately 120-200 ft behind the boat depending on the depth of the hole I am trolling. Depending on what depth in the water column I am trying to fish, I will let out less line (i.e. 120 feet) to achieve a shallower depth, and more line (i.e. 200 feet) to achieve a deeper depth. Remember, you can also fish shallower or deeper in the water column by changing from the Crystal Minnow to the Hydro Minnow to the LC Minnow.
Another cool tip to note; to trigger reaction bites is to make the lures swim up or down in the water column by increasing or decreasing your troll speed. When using any floating lure, you can get it to swim down (or dive) by increasing your speed, and also get it to swim up by slowing down your troll speed. Sometimes doing this or trolling in a Z-pattern can trigger bites!!!
The Striper fishing out in the west coast is on FIRE!!!! Want to increase your chances at have a day on the water that will make memories for a lifetime, here is some helpful tips on what I prefer to do and the set up I rely on!
My rod and reel choices are the following:
Rod is a 7’6″ heavy in power with a fast action tip.
The reel is a 300 size conventional reel with a line counter. Line counters are a must because this helps us out as a guide to know how far everyone’s line or lures are.I prefer to spool it up with 30lb Yo-Zuri SuperBraid in the Blue color pattern.
Weather conditions that are most favorable are Mid-March thru early summer, but this year throughout April and May the weather was normal morning temp 45 degrees and a high temp of 74 degrees throughout the day but the main issue we have faced is the water temperatures of 50 to 52 degrees. Our normal water temperatures are 55 degrees in mid-March and approximately 60 degrees in mid-April. It took a while to figure it out, we had Spring weather temperatures but winter water temperatures due to all the snowpack in the Sierra’s.
Most effective techniques were drifting upstream with deep diving floating Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow lures or the Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow Deep Diver Walleye series lure. I recommend trolling upstream at 3 to 4 MPH. Trolling at higher speeds make these stripers react to our lures, and with the colder water temps you had to get the lures right in their face because they were lethargic.
Hot baits were the standard deep diving floating Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow in Redhead/White body. This lure, for many years, has been the ‘go-to’ it comes to catching stripers. In the freshwater Deep Diver Crystal Minnow Walleye series lures the solid white has been hot for us. The bite is so good that it is almost like the stripers have never seen this lure before and they flat out couldn’t resist it! I believe the very tight wiggle the Crystal Minnow action has in the water mimics most live bait in many bodies of water such as Shad, or Pike Minnow. Another hot suggestion is the Deep Diver Walleye Series in the Hot Tiger color.
One tip I can pass on to anglers that will help them be successful is to remove the split ring that comes in the package tie a size 54 duo snap lock to your braid the attach it directly to the bait. This helps the lure run true, plus it makes easier to change out your lures as well. Also, make sure you add a trailer worm to your trailing center hook; it helps the lure get an even tighter wiggle.