I'M AT THE END of my rope for a quick comeback of Elsinore bassin'...

If I haven’t invited you to come fish the pond across the street recently–it’s been for your own good. It’s been that tough. The home water, Lake Elsinore, is barely recovering from one of its worst slumps since 1978, despite the highest water level in a number of years.

I base that, not just on the many hours I and other lake regulars have spent in 2011. Nope, the latest scientific data says the bass fishery–along with crappie and wipers–have all but been erased.

Quite apparently, I’ve been too hopeful that things would turn around more quickly but the latest report from Dr. Michael Anderson at UC Riverside has set me straight, like “Kramer, go find another lake to fish.”

Understanding that both sonar surveys and short term gill-netting are the basis for formulated estimates and open to some debate, at least they reveal a baseline–and it ain ‘t pretty. Spanning the period from April of 2008 to December of 2010, the UCR studies revealed the worst numbers appeared in March of last year, where the average fish size (obviously including shad) was 4.0 centimeters or 1.6 inches.

But the really ugly number from the March 2010 was “6 per acre.” Only six fish over 20 centimeters–7.9 inches–was all they could project. Compare that to the April 2008 high point estimate of over 1000 such fish per acre (the time the Kovach’s Fishing Adventures TV show was filmed here).

True, the crappie and wipers were the dominant species most likely reflected in the cross section sonar study, yet we would expect carp to be in that number as well. But from an angling perspective, time on the water makes it pretty clear what’s not being caught–crappie, bass and wipers, in that order.

As for the steep decline in the fish tallied, the report states, “The very low abundance found in March 2010 is thought to reflect the large fish kills in July and August of 2009….” Yet here is where angler experience and scientific data don’t totally agree.

WHERE DID THESE bass from last October go? Maybe just deeper in the cover?

The CBC tournament of June of 2010 produced poor fishing, but at least it showed that 40 skilled anglers could go out and catch at least some bass. And later in September/October of 2010 there was a period where one or two 3- to 5-pound bass (though only two limits) were showing in virtually every trip I took.

But since that time, the total number of “decent” bass catches that I’m aware of (8 fish by a KGF viewer and partner in July) is one–one decent catch! And even the 140 bass moved to the lake by the DFG since late 2009 (averaging around a pound each) have, as you would expect, just not produced much of a “spike” in the surveys.

As Pat Kilroy, Director of Lake, Park & Recreation here wrote in an email, “The only ray of sunshine is the speed in which this fishery rebounds.” He was referring to the difference in sonar studies between March and December of last year where the survey estimate of fish over 20 centimeters rose from six to to 273 fish per acre.

In any event, the numbers make it pretty plain. I won’t be calling you to come fishing anytime soon.