Get out to the Lopez Lake early if you want to beat the breeze and take advantage of this solid, year-round bass fishery. From late morning to late afternoon, frequent thermal winds can turn Lopez into a windsurfer’s paradise and an angler’s worst nightmare.
The largemouth bite is typically rated “good” by the lake staff, with streamers producing consistent results, while nymphing in the morning and chucking poppers in the evening is another productive option.
The bigger fish are caught off rocky points and deep creek dropoffs in the coves, but battling with boat fishermen and shore anglers can be tricky for fly fishers. The best bet for fly fishing Lopez during the busy season is the use a float tube or go early in the morning before the campers role out of their tents.
Smaller bass can be caught by shore anglers with fish showing near cover and around brushy shoreline. Small crankbaits, Kastmasters and Rooster Tails fool shallow-water bass.
But there’s more than just bass in Lopez (805-649-2043).
The lake also hosts the Lopez Lake Reel ’em in Trout Derby and has a good panfish bite. Catching tagged trout during the derby can pay big dividends. Just ask Paige Siller of San Luis Obispo, who caught a tagged trout worth $3,000 when she was just 9.
The bluegill, redear and crappie bites can be rewarding for Lopez anglers. When bass catches slow during the spawn, many boat fishermen turn to panfish, especially crappies, which typically spawn later than bass.
Not to be overlooked is a decent bluegill and redear bite in the late spring and summer, which can provide a nice tuneup for a trip up to the Sierra Nevada. Average-sized fish can be picked up by shore anglers and fish surpassing the 1-pound mark can be pulled from deeper water by float tubers and boat-bound fishermen.
Getting to Lopez Lake
From the 101 in Arroyo Grande (San Luis Obispo County, California) take the Highway 227 exit and follow the signs to the lake, which is located about 10 miles outside of town.
South of Lopez, you won't find many fishable freshwaters until you come across Cachuma Lake, which is located just outside of Santa Ynez on the way to Santa Barbara.
To get there from Santa Barbara, take the 101 to San Marcos Pass/Highway 154. The park entrance is about 20 miles away on the right.
Anglers come to Cachuma Lake for two reasons – trout and bass. It’s as simple as that.
The trout bite usually improves along with the water clarity at this Santa Barbara-area lake.
January and February can be slow, murky months for trout anglers, but those days change with better weather, less runoff and additional trout plants by the Department of Fish and Game.