Lake Hodges flexes potential to become kayak, tube fishing center of San Diego County

KAYAK ANGLERS along with boat renters and float tubers have been out in force since Lake Hodges reopened to recreation. It’s an ideal fishery for those brands of anglers with no trailered boats to compete with. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS


Anglers greeted with hot bass, crappie fishing

ESCONDIDO – Lake Hodges reopened to recreation on May 31, and anglers found a lot of success on the water while making the best of an imperfect situation. The well-known rub is, private boat launching is not available, and it’s not going to come back anytime soon with the water level well short of the launch ramp. Boat renters, kayak anglers and float tubers were out in force along with a fair amount of shore pounders.

According to Laina Ruiz who runs the store and marina at Hodges, all rental boats were spoken for within 30 minutes of opening, and the plan is to bring in more boats to add to the rental fleet. There was one poor soul who showed up with a boat on a trailer and had to be turned away, but everyone else seemed well aware of the new deal at Lake Hodges.


By 10 a.m. on Opening Day, reports of fishing success were piling up. Ruiz told Western Outdoor News her friend had caught eight bass over six pounds that morning. That was Joe Aldridge who was working wacky-rigged Senkos on the Del Dios end of the lake.

SOLID LAKE HODGES largie caught by a shorepounder who was working a jig from shore near the docks.

Kayak anglers used the launch ramp area as a launch area, but with the water well short of the end of the ramp, it was really just the most convenient place to roll or drag ‘yaks from vehicles to the water. Without glitter boats to compete with, kayak anglers put on a clinic on Hodges.

Dude, bite was good for opening day,” said kayak angler and Hodges regular, Ryan Moriarty. “I went 18 for 30 (fish/bites). I honestly lost count half way through the day, and some of my friends were on a serious bite with all fish in the 5-plus pound range. I did hear of a 9 being caught but didn’t see it. Most of my bites were on Texas-rigged Roboworms. I got a couple bumps and one fish on a chatter bait, but that was slow for me.”

Moriarty went on to tell WON his friends were doing well on Ned rigs, and the crappie bite was on fire. He also noticed decent numbers of catfish being caught. There were several photos bouncing around of full stringers of crappie, and those guys said they did their damage on shiners and jigs, but made a point to say they did best on the artificials.

The WON radar also picked up on chatter reflecting a respectable bite on spinnerbaits in the murky water, and ‘yak basser Chris Brandt sent a report following a productive day on largemouth to 5.9 pounds. He leaned on a Rapala DT16 for most of his biters.

This entire weekend almost every single person said it was the best fishing they have had in years,” Ruiz told WON Sunday evening. “It was so great hearing all that after all the hard work. I’m seriously so happy, you gotta get out here and fish.

Lake Hodges has long been a San Diego City lake where windsurfers and later, stand-up-paddle (SUP) enthusiasts could do their thing, but that is currently available at this time. While the local SUP community were quick to suggest on social media that they were being discriminated against, the truth of the matter is, due to all the “storm runoff from the San Dieguito River Valley and surrounding areas, the water quality is still deemed too unhealthy for board sports.”

The water quality is being monitored, and that access is expected to return this season.

THIS IS HOW SHORT the water is from the end of the launch ramp at Lake Hodges. It’s still an ideal location for launching kayaks and float tubes. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS