An email I got Tuesday read: “Saturday, there was only 2.6 feet at the deep end of the launch ramp dock. Today, my neighbor reported that the ramp was closed.”

He wasn’t talking about the pond (Lake Elsinore) across the street–where in fact, the Seaport Landing ramp is also closed due to low water. Rather, he was talking about Lake San Antonio near Bradley, a reservoir when full that covers more than 5500 surface acres and sports 65 miles of shoreline.

But not today. It’s just 6 percent of capacity, while nearby Lake Nacimiento is perhaps a third of its fullness.

True, not every lake is down (Castaic is actually 112 percent of its historic level for this time of year), but any reservoir that relies solely on run-off or intermittent tributaries is flat out drying up. And almost no one is saying what has been obvious for the last couple of years–we’re in a drought. And it’s a bad one.

I started checking around the lower half of the state and found some staggering numbers. Pine Flat, 15 percent of capacity, and 44 percent of its historical level for this time of year. Lake Isabella (recognizing they’re also dealing with dam issues) is 15.4 percent.

By the time you get to the bottom of the state, you find Lake Hodges at 38.3 percent, Morena at 13.8 percent and Sutherland just 10.2 percent of capacity.

ankle deep

THE JETTY has always been a key spot on Elsinore, but now it’s barely ankle deep at the tip.

While not a storage basin, the lack of water coming down the San Jacinto River means Elsinore–now below the summer “danger” level of 1240.0 feet elevation–has barely a stick in the water for cover, though launching is safe for another 8 feet or so at the north end.

You don’t need a meteorologist to tell you that without any prospect of El Nino help, it will require an unusual winter to provide sufficient rainfall to save the fishery.

But the scope of the drought is massive, extending to the Rocky Mountains and much of the Tri-States region. They’re talking Lake Mead will be 25 feet lower in November, 2014–lower than it has ever been since Hoover Dam was constructed in the mid 1930’s.

Of course, it won’t stop the fishing. But it’s going to put more of us on fewer surface acres in the coming years–at least until the cycle breaks.

Drought…there, I said it.


6 Responses to “The ‘D’ word nobody wants to talk about…”

by Guy Williams

Only good thing about droughts are the “new” lake syndrome we get when they fill back up. Maybe we can get a few good years of rain/snow before too long and see some magic years of fishing at some of these hard it lakes.

by George Kramer

I’m with you on that, Guy. Here’s hoping it’s sooner rather than later.

There’s always calico bass – don’t have to worry about that pond drying up any time soon.

by George Kramer

I definitely see a trend in that direction, Curt. For years the bays were always my winter bass, fallback position. That may need to be expanded… 🙁

by Guy Williams

I seem to notice that every time you talk about a drought it rains shortly after. Well played, GK! I see what you’re doing.

by George Kramer

Okay then. I predict it will not rain for the next three months, Guy. 😉