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Southern CA Freshwater

Escondido: Big Lake Hodges crappie showing in early going

BY BLAKE WARREN/WON Staff WriterPublished: Feb 19, 2020

ESCONDIDO — bite in the early going for mid February to be certain. Since opening for business on Feb. 5, Hodges has been kicking out decent numbers of the panfish and some stout crappie to 3-plus pounds despite water temps in the mid to high 50s and stained water conditions.

“The bite has just been phenomenal and lots of healthy fatties are being caught throughout the day,” said lake staffer Laina Doan of the current crappie bite. “From most all accounts it’s been white jigs and live shiners getting most of the bites but it’s definitely been good.”

anthonynoyANTHONY NOY OF San Diego with a solid Hodges crappie taken on a white Kalin’s grub.

Anthony Noy of San Diego is one angler who has already had plenty of early success on Hodges’ crappie. “Hodges has always kind of had a special opener bite for the slabs, and it didn’t take long to find them this year,” he said of the last couple weeks since the Feb. 5 opener.

“Anglers trolling the Narrows and the northeast end of the lake with various crappie grubs such as Kalin jigs in either white or green are finding themselves with some hefty stringers by the end of the day,” he continued. “Submerged bushes and trees are holding some good schools of fish in the northeast end of the lake and the bite has been early morning as well as late afternoon ‘til closing. Most all the fish we’re seeing right now are all nice-size crappie from a pound to 3 pounds.”

Kayak anglers seem to be getting the best of the early season crappie bite. Fishing with Noy was ‘yaker Kei Vang, who managed to stick a pair of 3-pound-class slabs trolling deep-diving Berkley Flicker Shads this past Wednesday (this week’s cover shot, in fact). Along with green and white Kalin jigs, Road Runners in similar colors are also getting bit along with smaller cranks in louder colors in order to stand out in the stained water at Hodges.

anothercrappieanglerANOTHER CRAPPIE ANGLER who notched a pair of 3-pound-class slabs this past week was Larry L., who was slow trolling white crappie jigs from his kayak when he tied into these stout dinner plates.

Another longtime kayaker, Larry L. of La Jolla, in a message to Western Outdoor News said that it’s not exactly wide open and no one is scoring huge numbers, but the quality has indeed been there for those covering lots of water — a prime reason kayak guys are mopping up with the majority of the quality slabs the last couple weeks.

“The real story is the size of these fish, with numerous 2.5- to 3-pound fish showing for guys putting in the time,” he said. “I’ve been covering acres of water and working my electronics always heading for the closest ‘last position’ of a crappie school [on my meter]. I’m just slow trolling crappie jigs mostly at 9 feet deep at about 1 knot.” After scoring a hefty strap of 2- to 3-pound crappie on opening day at Hodges, Larry was back again this week and picked off another pair of stout dinner plates going 3 and 3.16 pounds using his kayak-centric tactics.

As far as the bass bite goes it’s a pre-spawn game for the time being, and there are a considerable number of fish up shallow inside of 10 feet at the moment. Doan said most all her reports on the bass scene over the weekend have been catches on soft plastics fished up tight to the banks.

hodgesslabsHODGES SLABS — Kei Vang was trolling deep-diving Berkley Flicker Shads from his kayak and tied into these fat 3-pound-class crappie midweek.

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