BY MIKE STEVENS
SAN DIEGO COUNTY – A pair of anglers enjoying a pretty standard day teeing off on smaller clone largemouth, took a turn for the unexpected when they boated a double-digit striped bass in San Vicente Reservoir. Stripers are not officially known to inhabit San V, but as it turns out, there is rational reason for them being in there.
“We were just fishing for busting bass and throwing an Alabama rig around,” said Ramona angler Greg LeRoy. “My buddy just got done hitting two, and told me to throw over into some boilers.”
LeRoy connected in that area to a fish that pulled drag, and he assumed it was a big largemouth. He saw the fish flash sideways and thought it might be a 15 pounder, but when he was netted, they quickly realized they had a San V striper.
“I had no idea they were in there,” LeRoy told Western Outdoor News.
With largemouth still “going nuts” on the surface, they didn’t want to stop fishing so they dropped the striper into the livewell and continued targeting largemouth. They did well on the A-rig and LeRoy’s homemade tailspin, but they were mostly 1- to 2-pound fish with a 4-pound kicker and they called it a day when those bass sunk out.
His buddy suggested taking the fish to the dock to get it officially weighed and on record. Lake staffers and even the DFW took records and measurements, and it should go without saying that the fish will stand as the lake record striped bass for San Vicente Reservoir.
It was 20 pounds even, about 36 inches long and the catch was made in the back of the lake in the Kimball Arm. The striper did die in the livewell, and LeRoy said it had largemouth bass in its stomach.
“I’m bummed the fish died, but this was a once-in-a-lifetime thing in San Diego,” said LeRoy. “It’s so crazy what can happen in a day of fishing, and it’s a day I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Striped bass are not established in significant populations in any lake in San Diego County, but considering those reservoirs are largely supplied with water from both the Colorado River and Northern California where stripers are prevalent, occasional catches are far from unheard of.
According to records on SDFish.com, a 24-pound striped bass was caught in Dixon Lake (not part of the San Diego City Lakes but also full of Colorado River water) by Mac Weakley in 2012. Ted Becharas landed a 11.95 pounder at El Capitan Reservoir back in 2014, and Cecil Brookins stuck a lineside that tipped the scale at 15.9 pounds out of Lake Murray. Those all stand as lake records for those reservoirs as will Leroy’s fish at San V.
The City of San Diego purchases 80 to 90 percent of its water from these sources with about half of that coming in via the Colorado River Aqueduct and 30 percent coming from the California State Water Project (SWP). The SWP is statewide system of canals, pipelines, aqueducts and reservoirs that stretches over 705 miles and picks up most of its water from NorCal.
Considering the scope of both of those sources and the sheer amount of water being delivered from them to San Diego, it’s actually a bit of a shock that striped bass aren’t a bigger slice of the fishing pie in the San Diego region.