Southern CA Freshwater

Escondido: Lake Hodges back on the fishing menu

Quality bass, crappie bite hot

BY BLAKE WARREN/WON Staff WriterPublished: Feb 12, 2020

ESCONDIDO — After a short four-day delay due to road repairs, Lake Hodges opened this past Wednesday to approximately 75 or 80 cars in line in the sub-freezing dawn, the coldest night / morning of 2020 in much of the Southland thus far. That, however, didn’t stop eager anglers from launching their boats and pounding the shorelines once the gates swung open at 6 a.m.

fishingtopwaterFISHING TOPWATER PRODUCED just one bite for Adam Perez on the Hodges opener this past Wednesday, but it was a solid 4 pounder.

“I got a bite early on the jig and broke it off at the rod tip on the hookset because of the ice on my guides,” said National Bass West tournament director Chip Gilbert of the early hours of the opener. “I managed to catch 6 bass fishing super slow with black jigs but plastics fished slow were the best bet, with most fish being caught from the banks down to around 15 feet. Overall, fishing seemed kind of slow for most with rumors of an 8 pounder being caught, while crappie guys were reporting a decent bite drifting in 25 to 30 feet with minijigs.

“The water level was down about five vertical feet from the closer last year, and Bernardo Bay is no longer a bay as a result of the drawdowns.” Gilbert continued. “Morning water temps were 54 and they drifted up to 58 by the afternoon.”

Guide Rusty Brown reported some solid bass on black and blue jigs, green pumpkin IKAs and 6-inch margarita mutilator Roboworms drop-shotted in the Narrows. “The bite should go off soon with March approaching,” he said.

A TEXAS-RIGGED worm fooled this chunky 6-pound, 10-ounce largemouth for Steven Slezicki on opening day at Lake Hodges this past Wednesday. His fishing partner, Clement Miner, sent in the photo.

Mainstay Hodges staffer Laina Doan also received reports of that 8 pounder, caught on the Rancho Bernardo side of the lake, along with a solid number of 4- to 7-pound bass on the anticipated opener. “It was super cold and I was expecting really slow fishing but quite a few people caught bass and crappie,” she said. One of those confirmed larger models was a 6-pound, 10-ounce bucketmouth hooked by Steven Slezicki in 6 feet of water on a Texas-rigged worm.

“Bass fishing was a little tougher over the weekend, but people still caught quite a few 3- to 4-pound bass fishing plastics tight to the banks,” Doan told WON Monday morning. “The crappie bite is off the hook though!” Indeed, quite a few anglers targeting the panfish reported good action, with white or lighter-colored jigs doing much of the damage.

Known mostly for its quality, aggressive largemouth and often-good crappie fishing, the 2019 season closed very strong with more than a fair share of chunky bass running 5 to 12 pounds caught last October. They’re definitely there — just a matter of time when 2020 will spring up the first few Hodges trophies. And with all indications that there are plenty of fish up shallow at this stage of the game, chances are it will come sooner rather than later.

HODGES CRAPPIE BIT very well over opening week of the season, as La Jolla’s Larry L. flushed out this excellent stringer fishing a white jig.

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