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Santee doesn't break the bass records

But 39-lb. catfish, 16-lb. trout not shabby

A very happy Braeden Steveson of Santee with his lake record 15.12-pound largemouth bass.
A very happy Braeden Steveson of Santee with his lake record 15.12-pound largemouth bass.

Dock Totals 12/12 – 12/18: 540 anglers aboard 37 half-day to three-day trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 172 bluefin tuna, 18 calico bass, 8 lingcod, 25 lobster (34 released), 24 perch, 1,666 rockfish, 16 sand bass, 68 sanddab, 90 sculpin, 14 sheephead, and 468 whitefish.

Saltwater: Winter has set in here in the San Diego saltwater fishery with a wet and windy mid-week storm punctuating the arrival of the Southern California off-season. That said, bluefin tuna did not shy away from the blustery cold front and leave the outer banks as some expected. Though so far caught in the 18-to-30-pound range since the storm passed, boats venturing out past San Clemente Island to the Tanner and Cortez banks toward the end of the week reported wide-open limit-style fishing on smaller bluefin tuna. There are still some larger fish out there being metered, but so far only the smaller units are biting.

That the fish biting are smaller on average than weeks previous could be due to moon phase and the time boats have to fish the area during night. So far this year, more of the larger models to over 300 pounds have been caught between sunset and the wee hours of the morning than have been caught during daylight hours. We should soon know if the big bluefin will turn on with a few boats scheduling trips to the area for up to four days, which should give plenty of opportunity to test the night bite.

In closer to shore, the high spots from La Jolla to the border are kicking out plenty of rockfish, sheephead, whitefish, and sculpin for anglers aboard ½ to ¾ day trips. From the border south past Ensenada to Colonet, the yellowtail have thinned out and it’s all about rockfish and lingcod right now. Yellowtail do get caught in the area during winter, but, like San Diego, they are considered an off-season bonus when one comes over the rail. Northern Baja on the Pacific side of the peninsula is a lot like San Diego’s fishery all the way south to the Vizcaino Peninsula, with prolific kelp beds holding calico bass, sheephead, and halibut in the flats between. When yellowtail are not migrating through, white seabass, barracuda and bonito are the main catch in the upper water column.

Though the fishery is similar, once south of San Quintin seasons begin to bend into the next. By the time you get to the last vestiges of Kelp beds from Guerrero Negro to Punta Abreojos some 700 driving miles south of San Diego, it is like our summertime season right now. Yellowtail are thick in the inshore areas, while yellowfin tuna and dorado can be found on the offshore banks within 10 miles of a launch point. Long range boats are reporting great yellowtail and grouper fishing along that stretch, which they will usually check out on the way back from the Ridge or points south during trips targeting cow yellowfin tuna and wahoo.

Back home in the tap-water, San Diegans have something to crow about. Not really known for great camping and freshwater fishing, San Diego County does hold it’s own in both categories. Eleven of the top 25 largemouth bass caught in the world have been caught in San Diego County, and Santee Lakes has been awarded both Park of the Year and Plan-It Green Park of the Year in 2021 by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

Though largemouth bass are not native to California, they seem to do just fine once introduced to the Golden State’s lakes and reservoirs. In San Diego, Lakes Dixon, Miramar, Hodges, Wohlford, and Morena have put out the largest fish in the county. With an estimated 11 million anglers targeting them nationwide, largemouth bass are the most sought-after game fish in the United States. According to studies by federal fish and wildlife officials, those 11 million bass anglers spend a collective 176 million days each year trying to catch a bass.

Given San Diego has some of the largest largemouth bass in the world, the area lakes see little pressure when compared to other regions in the country where they are targeted. Of those eleven San Diego-caught bass out of the top 25 in the world, Miramar has produced 5 fish from 19 pounds one ounce to 20 pounds, 15 ounces. Dixon Lake kicked out 3 fish from 19-8 to 21-11, while Hodges, Wohlford, and Morena each recorded a bass over 19 pounds caught that made the world’s top 25.

Santee Lakes has not recorded any bass in the world’s top 25, though the five small shore-fishing only lakes in the park often give up decent largemouth to those working the banks and reeds for them. The official largemouth bass record for Santee Lakes is still a whopper at 15 pounds, 2 ounces. That fish was caught in March of this year out of lake 3 by 15-year-old Braeden Steveson of Santee. Braeden was tossing a Rat-L-Trap during the afternoon after baseball practice, and to make the catch even more spectacular, he was using just 6-pound test line. According to lake staff, of the 5 lakes in the park, Lake 3 is best for largemouth bass. Other lake records at Santee Lakes include a 39.4-pound channel catfish and a 16.9-pound rainbow trout.

So, though it is the ‘off-season’, there is plenty of fishing action here in America’s finest city. Merry Christmas and tight lines!

Fish Plants: 12/27 - Lake Jennings, trout (1,500), 12/30 – Lake Poway, trout (1,500)

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A very happy Braeden Steveson of Santee with his lake record 15.12-pound largemouth bass.
A very happy Braeden Steveson of Santee with his lake record 15.12-pound largemouth bass.

Dock Totals 12/12 – 12/18: 540 anglers aboard 37 half-day to three-day trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 172 bluefin tuna, 18 calico bass, 8 lingcod, 25 lobster (34 released), 24 perch, 1,666 rockfish, 16 sand bass, 68 sanddab, 90 sculpin, 14 sheephead, and 468 whitefish.

Saltwater: Winter has set in here in the San Diego saltwater fishery with a wet and windy mid-week storm punctuating the arrival of the Southern California off-season. That said, bluefin tuna did not shy away from the blustery cold front and leave the outer banks as some expected. Though so far caught in the 18-to-30-pound range since the storm passed, boats venturing out past San Clemente Island to the Tanner and Cortez banks toward the end of the week reported wide-open limit-style fishing on smaller bluefin tuna. There are still some larger fish out there being metered, but so far only the smaller units are biting.

That the fish biting are smaller on average than weeks previous could be due to moon phase and the time boats have to fish the area during night. So far this year, more of the larger models to over 300 pounds have been caught between sunset and the wee hours of the morning than have been caught during daylight hours. We should soon know if the big bluefin will turn on with a few boats scheduling trips to the area for up to four days, which should give plenty of opportunity to test the night bite.

In closer to shore, the high spots from La Jolla to the border are kicking out plenty of rockfish, sheephead, whitefish, and sculpin for anglers aboard ½ to ¾ day trips. From the border south past Ensenada to Colonet, the yellowtail have thinned out and it’s all about rockfish and lingcod right now. Yellowtail do get caught in the area during winter, but, like San Diego, they are considered an off-season bonus when one comes over the rail. Northern Baja on the Pacific side of the peninsula is a lot like San Diego’s fishery all the way south to the Vizcaino Peninsula, with prolific kelp beds holding calico bass, sheephead, and halibut in the flats between. When yellowtail are not migrating through, white seabass, barracuda and bonito are the main catch in the upper water column.

Though the fishery is similar, once south of San Quintin seasons begin to bend into the next. By the time you get to the last vestiges of Kelp beds from Guerrero Negro to Punta Abreojos some 700 driving miles south of San Diego, it is like our summertime season right now. Yellowtail are thick in the inshore areas, while yellowfin tuna and dorado can be found on the offshore banks within 10 miles of a launch point. Long range boats are reporting great yellowtail and grouper fishing along that stretch, which they will usually check out on the way back from the Ridge or points south during trips targeting cow yellowfin tuna and wahoo.

Back home in the tap-water, San Diegans have something to crow about. Not really known for great camping and freshwater fishing, San Diego County does hold it’s own in both categories. Eleven of the top 25 largemouth bass caught in the world have been caught in San Diego County, and Santee Lakes has been awarded both Park of the Year and Plan-It Green Park of the Year in 2021 by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

Though largemouth bass are not native to California, they seem to do just fine once introduced to the Golden State’s lakes and reservoirs. In San Diego, Lakes Dixon, Miramar, Hodges, Wohlford, and Morena have put out the largest fish in the county. With an estimated 11 million anglers targeting them nationwide, largemouth bass are the most sought-after game fish in the United States. According to studies by federal fish and wildlife officials, those 11 million bass anglers spend a collective 176 million days each year trying to catch a bass.

Given San Diego has some of the largest largemouth bass in the world, the area lakes see little pressure when compared to other regions in the country where they are targeted. Of those eleven San Diego-caught bass out of the top 25 in the world, Miramar has produced 5 fish from 19 pounds one ounce to 20 pounds, 15 ounces. Dixon Lake kicked out 3 fish from 19-8 to 21-11, while Hodges, Wohlford, and Morena each recorded a bass over 19 pounds caught that made the world’s top 25.

Santee Lakes has not recorded any bass in the world’s top 25, though the five small shore-fishing only lakes in the park often give up decent largemouth to those working the banks and reeds for them. The official largemouth bass record for Santee Lakes is still a whopper at 15 pounds, 2 ounces. That fish was caught in March of this year out of lake 3 by 15-year-old Braeden Steveson of Santee. Braeden was tossing a Rat-L-Trap during the afternoon after baseball practice, and to make the catch even more spectacular, he was using just 6-pound test line. According to lake staff, of the 5 lakes in the park, Lake 3 is best for largemouth bass. Other lake records at Santee Lakes include a 39.4-pound channel catfish and a 16.9-pound rainbow trout.

So, though it is the ‘off-season’, there is plenty of fishing action here in America’s finest city. Merry Christmas and tight lines!

Fish Plants: 12/27 - Lake Jennings, trout (1,500), 12/30 – Lake Poway, trout (1,500)

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