Mike Stevens – KNEE DEEP

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Thursday, July 13, 2017
Well, that was weird
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
World’s trashiest regatta

San Vicente Reservoir: A year later
Hard to believe it’s already been a year since San Vicente Reservoir re-opened after an 8-year closure amid unmatched hype and wacky Ticketmaster shenanigans. It lived up to that hype for a solid week — depending on who you talk to — before settling into its current position as just another outstanding San Diego bass lake in the starting rotation.

OPENING DAY AT San V had anglers of all kinds hitting the water for a shot at fish that had not seen a lure in nearly a decade. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

Jumping into the wayback machine, I showed up on opening day (Sept. 22, 2016) at around 8 a.m. and was happy to hear from front-booth staffers that getting the long-line of anglers through the gate, down the ramp and on the water was relatively painless, all things considered.

I walked out on the dock and peered into the crystal clear water and saw clouds of bass fry, a bunch of bluegill and no less than a dozen 2- to 4-pound bass patrolling below them. Even without being out on a boat, I could tell the fishing was epic. I saw guys fishing off the docks while waiting for a boat to come pick them up tee off on 3-pounders while chucking big spinnerbaits.

I also hiked a quite a bit and watched boaters, kayakers and float tubers fish close to shore and saw plenty of double hookups just in the small quadrant of the lake I could survey. Later on top of the ramp, I talked to one shell-shocked group after another about the fishing, and I heard it all: blades, 10-inch worms, jigs, big swimbaits, underspins, topwater, rats, even spoon fish. The one thing I didn’t hear about was drop-shotting, there was simply no need for it.

One trio of bassers ran into “wide open” fishing on 6-inch Huddlestons featuring “lots of 5- and 6-pound fish to go along with a ton of “clones” that, at the time, were pushing 4 pounds. No one caught anything under 2. As for the numbers, well, there were several 100-fish-days had by multiple Wounded Warriors who got to fish re-opener eve, and several Day One anglers hit triple digits, including one boat that stuck 200, and there was no shortage of 25-pound stringers.

GREAT NUMBERS OF clone San V bass were caught on Day One of the re-opening week, and it’s still good, only now, most of them are being found deep. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

Essentially, it’s a new lake. Old school San V guys were marveling over the fact that they had to learn it all over again with some of their favorite points, mounds, holes and other such cover now sitting under as much as 70 feet of water. After a few days of video-game-style fishing after the re-opener, the enormous biomass of largemouth that had lived the dream for almost a decade with no outboard noise or chance of getting hooked, headed deep into the cover of miles of newly submerged brush and full size trees well below the surface.

Drop-shot fishing became a reality (along with Texas rigs, jigs, spoons and anything else that can be fished deep and semi-vertical), gobs of tackle was lost in the sticks and everyone had to get schooled on “fizzing” so deep-caught bass could be safely released.

That deep bite has been the bread and butter ever since, and many anglers — especially those who fished opening week —aren’t always fired up about it. Too slow, too deep, too subtle, too much like all the other clear bass lakes in the state. But it’s still popular. You still will bump into competitive bassers / guides like Rusty Brown and Todd Kline putting clients on biters out there, or even BASS Elite Series angler Brent Ehrler honing his deep-water electronics game.

It’s not all 6-pound fluoro in 50-feet of water though. San V experiences topwater, swimbait, frog, Fluke, underspin and Senko bites like the next pond, it’s just up to the angler to figure out when to fish shallow or with reaction stuff or otherwise with that deep-bite as an old-reliable backup plan.

Most of what’s caught these days is in the 1.5- to 3-pound range with a few 5-plus models reported every week on average. This “clone” situation is what happens when a lake is left alone for that long, and while I hate to say it, the unavoidable factor of anglers keeping bass is actually going to slowly remedy that with each passing year as competition for the same food supply diminishes.

San Vicente Reservoir is a gorgeous fishery with all-new facilities from the ramp and docks up to the concession area and parking lot, and whether it’s because it’s a cool lake to fish on, or because it takes some pressure off the rest of San Diego’s legendary bass holes, it’s great to have her back.

NEW FACILITIES INCLUDING docks and launch ramp were a major re-opener attraction along with the new lay of the “land” with a lot of the previous features now under water. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

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