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Southern CA Freshwater

Lakeside: Lake Jennings gives up monster 62-plus pound whiskerfish

Jennings open daily through winter break

BY BLAKE WARREN/WON Staff Writer Published: Dec 12, 2019

Another trout plant due this week

LAKESIDE — It may very much be trout season at Lake Jennings, but it was a behemoth blue catfish that stole the show this past weekend at the Lakeside watershed. Lake regular Chris Sprecco of Ramona, a fixture at Jennings for 50 years running, was soaking nightcrawlers in the rain in Siesta Cove at around 11 Saturday morning when he got a bite that was clearly no rainbow trout, ultimately taming a tanker cat that would register at 62.3 pounds on the bait and tackle shop scale after about a 15-minute fight on what Sprecco called his “hodgepodge setup.”


colossaulcatCOLOSSAL CAT — Longtime Lake Jennings angler Chris Sprecco of Ramona was soaking a pair of nightcrawlers on a #10 treble hook at Siesta Cove in the rain late this past Saturday morning when he tied into this monster of a blue catfish that registered at 62.3 pounds on the bait and tackle shop scale. The bruiser whiskerfish put up a 15-minute fight and was later successfully released after photos.

“I made a cast about 60 yards out where I know there’s a little drop off way out there and it didn’t take too long to get bit,” said Sprecco, who grew up with Jennings in his backyard for most of his life before moving to Ramona. “The fish surfaced within the first minute, and it was being pretty lazy until I got it about 25, 30 yards from the bank, but then I think he realized he was in a little trouble and he made a good run. Fought me pretty good for the last 9 or 10 minutes.”


Sprecco’s “hodgepodge setup” consisted of a 6-foot Abu Garcia medium rod and an old Zebco reel spooled with 30-pound braid to 12-pound mono with two medium ’crawlers on a #10 treble hook and a 1-ounce pancake sinker.


“I was on a mission to catch this fish after catching a 45 pounder last year on 6-pound test, so I felt a little more confident this time around having the 12-pound rigged,” he said, also noting that he’s lost another hulking whiskerfish right at the bank as he was trying to get ahold of it between his two trophy catches at Jennings. “I wasn’t even going to go fishing, but then my wife said she was going to be heading out with some girlfriends so I figured ‘what the heck?’” concluded Sprecco. “Sure am glad I did though.”


The standing lake record for blue catfish at Jennings is a 71.3-pound cat caught in June of 2014 by angler Bob Bowden.


San Diego freshwater anglers will have yet another option in their rotation to close out the year, as Lake Jennings will shift from weekends-only to daily operation for the winter break from Dec. 20 to Jan. 5. During the stretch there will be a pair of “Free Boat Launch Tuesdays” on Dec. 24 and Dec. 31, and the campground will be open for shore fishing only on Christmas Day. New Moon Fishing is set for Saturday, Dec. 28 with fishing until 10 p.m.


All of this bodes well for area trouters — along with big swimbait chuckers hunting Jennings’ trophy largemouth — who will be working with a good share of rainbows in the lake, with a 1,500-pound delivery going in this week and another similarly-sized plant slated for Christmas week. The lake also received a small DFW plant before the weekend to supplement the regular plants from Wright’s Rainbows in Thatcher, Idaho.


In the meantime, lake staffers are saying garlic and salmon peach PowerBait is netting the most recent success on the trout front, but minijigs and tube baits usually tend to connect pretty well in the immediate days following a plant. This next stocking of rainbows ought to help spur opportunities for big bass on trout imitations, one of which – a double-digit bucketmouth – was landed after the most recent stock on a trout-pattern swimbait. Drop-shots, Senkos and IKAs have also been getting a few grabs in recent days.


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