Bear Creek/Santa Ana River

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strippin' fool

Bear Creek/Santa Ana River

Postby strippin' fool » Sun Apr 04, 2004 4:28 pm

Just returned from a day at the famed waters of the San Berdoo mtns, I haven't been back there for over a year due to the overgrowth of willows back there. I was hoping with the winter rains that the willows would be flushed out of there. We started off fishing at the below the confluence of Bear Creek and Santa Ana river, we were able to fish a few pools but nothing bit. After a 45 minute battle with the willows to get to better spots we decided to head back to the 1N09 bridge/Bear Creek crossing and work our way up from there. Willows again proved to be a factor. Even wet wading there was little room to play out any line or manuver. 3 hours bushwacking, 5 minutes fishing.

We drove to the Slide Lake/1N64 area and was able to get to some open water there at least to wet a line, we spooked a few fish getting to the open water, smaller ones 6-8"ers. Due to time constraints we weren't able to spend to much time here but would be a good place to try.

This was mostly a recon trip to see if the access to the creek improved over the winter. I think that with my expereince today that I am thru with Bear Creek/Santa Ana area until one of three things happen.
1) Huge spring rains bring enough flooding to wipe out the willows
2) Big Bear Dam breaks and sends a torrent of water down the canyon, (keith, I hope this one doesn't upset you)
3) A fire needs to go thru and just burn the willows that line the creek, there are plenty rocks and things that the fish could take cover under. I just dislike the willows.

PS. I did find out when I got home that I did get a bite, a tick bite, I dislike those guys too.

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Postby DavidP » Thu Apr 08, 2004 9:11 pm

I know its a pretty tough place to cast a line, more like flicking is appropriate.
What was the water like was it major runoff time or fairly gentle. I guess we haven't had too much snow/rain to make it so, but last year about this time it seemed pretty high when i went there.
Its still one of my favourites, if very frustrating at times but there are some quite good fish in there compared to the usual fair at the San Gabriel.

Thanks for the report

strippin fool


Postby strippin fool » Thu Apr 08, 2004 10:52 pm

The flows aren't bad for fishing, I've been back there after rains and the runoff makes the creek impossible for the standard rock hopping technique. Water was clear. I don't mean to sound like a sour puss when it comes to the area but I've been going back there for over 6 years and without some flushing flows the willows just keep getting thicker and thicker. I don't think I've ever casted a line back there, more like, flick, drop, place, dribble and plenty of other methods to get your fly on the water.

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Postby Joe » Fri Apr 09, 2004 8:40 am

Willows Rock! :wink: Hail hail the bow and arrow cast. I would never complain about nature's existence; those willows are there for a reason. So are the bugs that drop from their branches :o ...Joe

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Bear Hopping

Postby LARiver » Sat Apr 17, 2004 4:09 pm

Hit it for the first time this year yesterday a little bit at Bear/SA and then the Slide Lake zone.

Da Place: The road conditions are a hair worse than last year and in some spots there are deep furrows caused by heavy vehicles that came through during the 2003 fires. The drop to slide lake is not recommended unless you have high clearance or a 4WD. The creek is running nicely but not "overwhelmingly". I will not fish Bear again without being 100% committed to wet wading and/or using light waders. I think my trips last fall conditioned me to a different set of rules given lower water and frisky fish (spawning attitude?). I did fine back then just getting my feet wet now and then. For stealth, I'd recommend more commitment from myself. My buddy Pat had some waders on and very early in our trek did we start fishing where I (trying to stay dry) would spot fish and help direct him to them so as not to spook them. Although I too did fish, this approach was very effective and enjoyable except the one time that I started yelling in excitement and he set the hook a little early as a fish rose. It was good for a chuckle and to scare off the mountain lions. Pat stayed true to his method and I dilly-dallied most of the day changing flies and experimenting, sometimes even if a spot was put down. Call me a fool but I will never recover from that u-boat I caught last year. This place is a serious training ground imho.

Bugs: Saw small clouds of tiny mayflies (20 and smaller), a caddis here and there coming off the water (16 ish) and once in a while a much larger mayfly (16 ish).

Humans: Last but not least, if anyone decides to go in there, please help pack out trash. I have never seen as much as I saw yesterday. Not in the pullouts but on the creek. We carried out an empty carton of a Coors 12-pack with a few loose cans in it. Even in some tight spots, I stumbled upon bottles etc. There was broken glass in one spot and I also found a pack of salmon egg hooks.

Soap Box (Humans continued): This is an incredible stream imho. Please take to heart the need to take care of it. With Deep Creek in a serious funk, I think Bear is going to get more pressure (some holes where I have done well were not so "alive") and given how far in I saw trash, I can't help but be fearful for its sake. If the fish weren't so skittish and the terrain such a "bear", I think I'd be even more concerned.

Don't get me wrong. It was still a good day. :D




and if you've made it this far ...

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Postby SoCalFF » Fri Apr 23, 2004 12:17 pm

I agree with LA River's post! I've been fishing Bear Creek for the past 12+years. In that time I've seen this fishery turn from a 60% Rainbow & 40% Brown C&R site to a 95-99% Brown & 1-5% rainbow C&R site! I was there two weeks ago too. It amazed me that many pools and runs don't have any fish in them now, like they use too! The trash has been the worse I've ever seen it too! Especially the beer cans! With the lose of Deep Creek, Lytle Creek, and a few others because of the recent fires I fear that Bear Cr will be fished many more times than normal! If we don't protect our few precious wild (Southern Californian) trout streams than who will? :?: Just some more food for thought. Take-care!

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Lower Santa Ana

Postby Joe » Mon Apr 26, 2004 2:06 pm

Fished WAYYYY down the river on Saturday. Hiked 2 hrs downstream of the confluence. Did not see any fish down there. Picked up a few small specimens around Crystal Creek to the south, but nothing to write home about. I hiked back rather perplexed at the lack of residency at many past glory holes. Willows are indeed thicker than ever; I am quite certain that many decent specimens are in difficult locations. Sporadic midge hatches at best, spiders and other terrestrials around banks, and a few orange damsels. I am beginning to share the sentiments of Strippin Fool....Joe

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Re: Bear Creek/Santa Ana River

Postby hnoor0044 » Tue Mar 15, 2016 1:14 am

I was hoping with the winter rains that the willows would be flushed out of there. We started off fishing at the below the confluence of Bear Creek and Santa Ana river, we were able to fish a few pools but nothing bit.

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