Aside from those living tenuously in the areas below the several “burn zones” in SoCal, bass fishermen were glad, and in some cases, even surprised at the amount of run-off generated by last week’s storms.
While predicted to be heavy, forecasters rarely get it this right over such a length of time, but they did. Case in point, the natural basin across the street: Lake Elsinore. They have been taking flow readings on the San Jacinto River for 93 years and this past week, if the marks are verified, there were all-time high flows for those three straight days.
The USGA calls the immediate flow information “provisional,” meaning there might have been some phenomenon that could mitigate the numbers, but there is nothing provisional about the result downstream. From last Monday’s pre-storm to Friday’s 8 a.m. reading, Elsinore rose two vertical feet.
However, the heaviest flows came later that day and checking a few marks around the lake, it’s pretty safe to say the lake will have risen over 3 feet by the time the water district announces the gauge reading on March 25.
So what can it mean? Speculating, it’s interesting that these January readings were all records. That tells me that even before there was a dam on the river, for close to 100 years, there was not as wet a January locally. There have been higher flows in other months, but never this early in the year.
Basically, it means there is the possibility of more run-off (especially with the ground saturated) in the traditionally wetter months of February and March.
Other lakes to benefit from this early surge would include Lake Hodges in San Diego County and Irvine Lake in Orange County, which traditionally don’t take a full season of rain to fill.
But those are reservoirs that have much more depth than the natural lake in Riverside County. A rise of three vertical feet at Lake Elsinore represents almost 10,000 acre feet of water. By comparison, that would take a 500 acre reservoir such as Lake Sutherland (at capacity) and raise it 20 vertical feet!
However, in the flat natural basin, the lake merely spreads out and the depths change more moderately.
From a fishing standpoint, it does bode well. For one thing, the DFG has already begun planting largemouth bass (they want to put in 600 overall) and now the prospects at the lake are improved for the spring spawn.
And secondly (and many anglers have a recollection of what happens during the “wet years”) when Canyon Lake spills, Elsinore often gets a collateral stocking of bass and crappie that drop over the falls into river. Although the spillway on that dam is not as radical as it once was (gushing fish to the river below) that lake level did flush as much as 18 inches over the top at the peak of the storms, so there were bound to be some fish sent relocating to the West.
Anyway, all things considered, a week of hunkering down may not have been such a bad thing. And spring sure looks a lot more promising.Bass columnist George Kramer, who says breakfast sure looks a lot more promising, can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.