I had the opportunity to fish and film at Cachuma Lake in Santa Barbara County recently. I had not fished the lake in over 15 years. To say the least, I was highly impressed with this diverse fishery!
Here’s a pretty thorough run-down of the species we caught and the techniques we employed. We fished for two days, caught—and—released, close to forty assorted fish, and all while fishing from one of the lake’s rental boats:
Rainbow Trout – You will be really surprised at what a great trout fishery has emerged at Cachuma Lake! The unique “Nebraska Tail Walkers” strain of rainbows are stocked throughout the colder months. But these impressive fighters actually thrive year round at Cachuma, often schooling in that deeper, colder 35–50 feet of water in the summer months.
Trolling the points at the various coves of the lake with Yo-Zuri Pins Minnow Lures, we really nailed some quality Tail Walkers. We trolled both the smaller 2-3/4 and the larger 3-1/2 inch versions of the Yo-Zuri Pins Minnow Lures. Size didn’t seem to matter. I tied on the larger model directly to 10-pound test P-Line Fluoroclear Line, trolled rather fast, and nailed a beautiful 3-1/2 pounder! We also drifted tiny mini-jigs down the center of the coves. This tactic was also productive, resulting in numerous 2-pound class Tail Walkers.
Largemouth / Smallmouth Bass – Lake Cachuma is legendary for its two bass species population. We fished for both the largemouth and the “smallies” in the shallow water arm of the lake in the east end. The single best technique we used consisted of a tiny Owner Shakey Head in 1/16–1/8 ounce, matched with a black grape colored Owner Shiver Tail plastic worm. This compact combo produced a majority of our bass for this mid-spring outing. But definitely check with the lake’s concession shop when you get to Cachuma to get some current information on what patterns are producing catches of bass. It is also a great lake for throwing spinner baits, grubs, jigs, and top water lures.
Besides the bass and trout, we caught crappie and channel catfish, interestingly on the mini jigs and the plastic worms. But there is a bonus fishery of sorts that is just getting started at Lake Cachuma—bow fishing for carp!
That’s right. The Lake authorities want to remove carp from the water as an increasingly nuisance species. Armed with a compound bow and special fishing arrow, we watched our guide Ken approach these big marauders in shallow water and nail five of the “bugle mouth bass” up to 15 pounds! This made for yet more spectacular film footage at a spectacular lake! The carp are a near-invasive species. They uproot the bottom, destroying needed shallow water spawning cover for the largemouth and smallies. They often also eat the bass eggs that are laid during the spring spawning period. Turning to archery and bow hunting, anglers help their own cause by eliminating the carp!