2 hall of famers

HALL OF FAMERS, Paul Leader (San Diego Bass Fishing HOF) and Mike Folkestad (Bass Fishing and Fresh Water Fishing HOF) were present at Lake Hodges. That’s quality.

Lake Hodges isn’t that far from Quad Lakes, maybe an hour’s tow south of Lake Elsinore. And, given the El Cajon Ford’s “Day Series” was having a tournament there, Saturday, I thought, “Why not?”

It turns out, despite low water, the lake is definitely over its funk of just a few years back. And reaping the rewards of the lake’s steady improvement are anglers who can handle the mix of heavy brush cover, heavily stained water and classic rock structures both on and off the bank. Spinnerbaits, square bill cranks and worms–they all fit.

Having spent a few Wednesdays in advance of the contest (where unfortunately I won the pre-fish) nonetheless, with the amount of shad still running the banks or filling up the flats, this reservoir is a nice departure from the local aquariums with their drop-shot to swimbait extremes. Hodges lets you do those things, of course, but without the need to resort to 5-pound test.

Lower lake level

LOWER LAKE level shows how far the reeds are out of water. This makes the exposed brush some of the most important cover.

And if I might, I can back up these claims by noting first, the winner, Tom Leedom (this week with Matt Menzel and the previous Saturday with Keith Gunsauls) posted back-to-back 30-pound bags.

In this most recent contest, I looked at the stat sheet and 18 of the 30 teams posted at least one fish, 5 pounds or better. Fourteen of those teams actually sacked a bass weighing 6 pounds or better.

Heck, one team posted just two fish, but they totaled 14.01 pounds! Their good one went 8.29 pounds. Their other fish just 5.72.

And you needed those bigger bites. My partner Mike Folkestad and I finished in the middle of the pack with four weighing 14 1/2 pounds. But even if we could have managed another 5 to 6-pounder (Mike had a pair of 5’s) we would have been vying for no better than second.

practice winner

NEEDED MORE of these from practice.

That’s because six teams finished between 7th and 2nd place with 20.02 to 21.30 pounds. The competition is very tough down there (so no wonder the locals complain they don’t have enough representatives on the California Top 40.)

Paul Leader, owner of El Cajon Ford, puts together a very nice event with veteran Jim Sleight and tournament crew running a well organized contest. But Leader is more than a figurehead. He actually scored a top 10 finish.

But in my view, the highlight has to be the resurgence of Lake Hodges. I got to get back down there while there’s still enough water to launch.