UCR study routes

Judging by the discussion and especially the frustration surrounding prefishing ahead of the California Bass Championship regional final next week, it’s pretty obvious Southern California’s largest natural lake is a big departure from the reservoirs most contenders are used to fishing.

You toss in the reality that the bass population, by all projections, is barely 10 percent of the total adult fish population and add the unpleasant specter of what appears to be a herpesvirus killing carp all over the lake in water clarity of 5 to 8-inch visibility and the lads are having a tough go at Lake Elsinore.

What would they think if they heard from the scientists this past week who found a 33-foot deep hole–deepest in the lake currently. From core samples they are led to believe the lake was once a 1000 feet deep!

Of course, that doesn’t matter right now. What’s more important is to know that Dr. Michael Anderson of the University of California at Riverside has spent and continues to spend a massive amount of time studying the make-up of the fishery. It was his work, which includes full lake sonar profiling followed by trawl netting, that has made the most accurate population estimates.

In 2008–prior to the multi-million fish die-offs of last summer–it was estimated there were 3,550 adult shad per acre in the lake and more than 11,000 larval fish per acre as well. Still, Pat Kilroy, head of Aquatic Resources for the City of Lake Elsinore says, “I still think we have about 5,000 shad per surface acre.”

But as the water warms up here, there is no getting around the issue of dissolved oxygen and water temperature. The five turbines plus the pressure line aeration do their part to increase oxygen levels, but primarily they mix the water to deepen livable oxygen levels throughout the water column. But, if you remember your biology, warmer water carries less oxygen than cold water–that’s why they only plant trout in the winter and spring.

But looking at the daily oxygen profile of the lake (click here) it’s pretty evident, oxygen levels are not as reliable below 9 or 10 feet. But throughout the day, even when the air temperatures get cooking, the highest oxygen readings are still in the top 3 1/2 feet. No wonder the bass tend to be shallow–not deep–here most of the year.

In any event, as I asked one CBC qualifier: “What’s the best way to find your lost keys?” For me, it’s to deduce their likely whereabouts and then go searching with the mindset that “I know they are here!” I  just haven’t located them yet. When you do that, you’re much more committed to the hunt. With Lake Elsinore’s small bass population (like the lost keys) you need the same approach.

But regardless of depth, the guys who pick an area and fish it like they know the bite is coming will probably get it. And punch their ticket for a shot at the State Championship.


2 Responses to “Forget that reservoir thinking…at this lake”

But I lost my keys at the beach.

Ahh… There is the Rosetta Stone that will decipher the fish catching code of Elsi.