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Mike Stevens – KNEE DEEP

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Thursday, November 29, 2018
Tackle Shopping Torture
Friday, December 21, 2018
2018: Lessons learned

My Lottery Lake
Whenever I fish with this one dude, the outing inevitably evolves into long philosophical discussions about anything, and sometimes, about nothing. Sometimes, they will occur over email, and he recently sent me a fun one.

If I won the recent billion-dollar lottery, and could do whatever I wanted with any Southern California lake in terms of rules, species, limits, etc. what would I do? He listed several fisheries: Dixon, Wohlford, Poway (we’re both from North County, San Diego) and Irvine, as examples.


HAPPIER TIMES AT IRVINE LAKE — Brady Garrett of Long Beach with a torpedo trout out of “The Vine” before it shut down.

It was Irvine Lake that really got my wheels turning, because that actually is a lake that needs to be back up and running, with or without a billion-dollar investment. During the quick brainstorm session, I found myself taking the best, or at least the coolest or most unique attributes of some of the lakes I already cover on a weekly basis for WON.

As for species, I want it all. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what “The Vine” had. Stocking of quality trout (including some alternate species to spice things up) and catfish, resident monster blue cats, thriving panfish population, and it was a real sleeper largemouth spot. As for striped bass, I like the idea, but I think my official response in the email was “maybe if someone smarter than me didn’t think they’d screw everything up.”

Stocking? I’d go for private stocking of quality trout like they do at Dixon, Wohlford, Poway and so on. But, rather than plant nothing but 2 to 5 pounders on average with some trophies mixed in, I would back off on some of the biggest fish and replace them with smaller two-to-a-pound little guys. For example, swap that 7-pound tanker out for 14 small guys. That’s for you swimbait guys, bass candy baby, and if they’re not eaten, they might still fill out some kid’s limit.

Trout stocking days would not be published, at least not the actual day. I’d do it how the DFW schedule works: post the week the lake will be stocked but not the day. Sorry trout-truck chasers, Irvine Lake brought to you by Stevens/Western Outdoor News is going to be a level playing field. You want to go to the closest cove to the stocking location on stock day, tee off on jaded trout just off the truck and pop off on the Internet like you accomplished something, you’re going to have to do it somewhere else!

Speaking of the location at which trout are delivered, I’m taking my billions and getting creative with that. If possible, I’ll have it one night after the lake closes. I might even have a net-pen barge out in the middle of the lake that new arrivals can “cure” in prior to release mid lake ensuring even distribution throughout the lake. Catfish can be stocked in the same place every time because they holdover from one season to the next, and new batches of catfish aren’t immediately “slain” in half like a trout plant is.

Silverwood Lake is in my area of coverage, and one of the most productive fishing locations for all species therein is the Marina Dock. It costs a couple bucks for access to it, but it always seems well worth it and by God I want one on my lake. I want a big, gnarly angular one that perhaps serves as the border around the marina itself. It should have built-in rod holders like the one out at Willow Beach, and trap doors like they have at Henshaw so you can fish right through it. Also, mix in a few shade structures for the scorchers, lights for night fishing, basically, full-featured but just short of having a Ruby’s Diner on the end.

Dude (his name’s Brady Garrett by the way. You may have read some of his features in WON’s saltier special sections and supplements) suggested one day per week for kayaks and float tubes only. I’m down with that.

He asked about boat restrictions, specifically, higher end bass boats. I stalled for a minute on that one but ended up saying glitter boats are welcome, but I’d have some serious speed restrictions and monster no-wake zones. Rental boats available would be those nicer Lund boats they have at Diamond Valley Lake, maybe a pontoon or three and a couple upgraded sleds with pedestal seats, a trolling motor and maybe even a reasonable Lowrance Hook unit (since anyone can figure out how to use it).

Garrett also suggested a day per week with no fishing, a breather. I went with it. Billionaire me can handle the loss of revenue, and it would create a perfect setting for my aforementioned exotic trout-stocking practices.

Of course, I’ll have a tackle shop, maybe a café or at least an area where food trucks can come in and set up shop.

Oh limits! Standard limits on trout, catfish and panfish. But, I might get slightly medieval when it comes to largemouth. Dixon Lake recently changed its limit from five bass to two. As much as I hate seeing bass on stringers, I think that’s reasonable. A little herd thinning can do the biomass some good, even with all that Vitamin T swimming around as an added food source.

I remember reading something in Field and Stream when I was a kid about turning your old Christmas tree into pond habitat, so we’re going to do that, too. Every January, free admission (or, I don’t know, free something) when you bring in your tree so I can haul them out in the pontoon and sink a pile of them in various featureless locations on my lake. That’ll give you crappie guys something to vertical jig over as well as some reduced-pressure offshore bass habitat – that you’ll be able to can find with the Lowrance Hook units aboard the deluxe rental boats.

That should do it.

That was the easy part.

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Reader Comments
I’m with you. Some of these Lakes are doing a Fine job. Let’s get some kind of a Petition going to reinstate Irvine Lake as a Fishery again. What do you say?
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