The Seewald's fish
Diamond Valley Lake on
it's historic Opening Day.
by Michael Seewald
We hit Diamond Valley's opening
day and were blessed with the best fishing day of our lives.
As Valerie hasn't had that many that is not that big of a statement,
but for someone who has had hundreds, like me, it is.
We left Del Mar, in northern San Diego, right
at 4:45 a.m.. About an hour later we grabbed egg
sandwiches in Temecula at a Jack-in-the-Box and then drove the
final 12 miles east to the lake
entrance, arriving about 6 a.m.. Well, almost to the
lake entrance, as actually we were 1.5 miles from it.
A very long line of fishermen and women, with their boats, (it
was heard some were from as far away as Florida) were slowly
crawling towards the entrance in front of us.
Now I had hit opening days at Otay
Lake in Chula Vista (in southern San Diego county, almost in
Mexico) in my youth, but did not expect to crawl
the same 1.5 mile line at they had had as slow as we did here. After
about 45 minutes, and going only 1/2 a mile, I thought it
might be 8 a.m. before we launched. (In the
end, I'd of been happier had we actually got out that early).
Evidently, due to the 'reservations required' system, it
slowed everything way down as they checked one car at a time
for their names and info, and then to chit chat with each angler.
I was starting to wonder if
all of this was worth it? Were they trying to discourage
us from ever coming back?
But our trip did not originally
start here either. Months earlier, after reading about a
water district employee going out and catching two bass on
every cast of his lure, (one with two sets of treble hooks), we looked into
getting our boat
Click to enlarge.
Valerie with boat 'trailered up' and ready to
qualified to get onto this miracle lake. They required a
minimum boat length and width, as well as having the proper
safety equipment and supplies, which we had.
We had the inspection accomplished
on a trip out to Skinner Lake, in Temecula, two weeks earlier.
The Water Department had set up the check station and we had hoped they
would ok us without making us literally take off our old heavy outboard motor (it
was too old to pass as only new motors with zero emissions are
allowed). The man insisted
he would not pass it with it on,
so right in front of him (in 95 degree heat) we disconnected it from all the
controls and manually took it off the boat, leaned it next to
a tree, got 'passed', then re-attached the motor and drove off
with our new 'passed sticker' on the stern. (Some
So we sat there this fine opening
day morning, half asleep as we had risen at 3:30 a.m., and
watched the clock strike 8:00 a.m, still way back in the line! I was starting to wonder if all of this was worth it. Were
they trying to discourage us from ever coming back? It
was starting to work in my case. We would easily have
"but you still didn't get your
free CD". I angled my head back over my left shoulder
and yelled "I more interested in getting out on the lake before
to wait another hour had it not been for someone finally deciding to open another
lane for inspections. (But common sense is not too common.)
Then, after finally clearing the reservations check point,
we drove up and over one of the three dams to actually see
this masterpiece... Diamond Valley Lake. It was misty
and looked way bigger than the pictured measurements of 2 x
Just before we reached the launch ramp, another
checkpoint looked to be set up. We waited, now even more
impatiently, to get thru this one. A few employees were
talking to the folks in front and we wondered what could be so
important to tell us. We found out is was the
Mayor giving her blessing on each carload of anxious
fishermen, along with some free gifts. It seemed to take
an eternity for each carload to talk to her. As we drove up we
grabbed the free bag as she held it out without even stopping
for her benediction. She and her friend looked
astonished, mouths agape and said "but you still didn't get your
free CD". I angled my head back over my left shoulder
and yelled "I more interested in getting out on the lake before
noon!" (I had prayed for patience, but I guess I had not
prayed hard enough, or I had more than I usually would have.)
The lake had a beautiful launch ramp, with about eight
wide, which we quickly took advantage of. Valerie drove
the van back to the parking area while I got the electric
trolling motor in action. As I had a couple of minutes
to 'kill', I started casting a rapala lure right there along
the shore. A man on a point was just landing a nice four
pounder off a plastic worm just 25 yards away. "All
right, bass heaven" I thought. But to my utter amazement,
I was starting to wonder if
my loss of patience was causing the lack of reward from our prayers.
after throwing the lure about 15 times in every direction, no
bass had hit. "Must be the only spot on the lake no bass
congregate" I thought. Valerie showed up and we were
As we can only use the trolling motor
(which does not go very fast) we knew we could not
explore much of the vast 15 mile shoreline. I saw some
nice points north so we started to head that way but
then noticed that that's where the shore is open to shore fishing
1.5 miles. It was marked off to forbid boat fishing within 200
yards of it the whole way. "Good for them", I thought. That was
a nice gesture.
We turned and headed back past the
ramps and closer
to the dam. (There are two big ones, at each end of the lake,
and a third somewhere else. It's the largest earthen dam
construction in the U.S.) The first shoreline
past the ramps we stopped and tossed crankbaits.
Besides, the bass hit everything you throw every time you
throw it, right?
Well, after an hour, and watching a boat with three guys
pulling one in every time we looked their way, we decided, again, we
must be in a 'bad spot'.
We moved closer to the boat of guys catching them
non stop, but still no luck on our part.
We watched as
For the next hour and a half
they continued to pound the bass. We continued to catch
another couple pulled into the area we had just left
from and BAM, the man had a fish on within the first cast!? We got out the binoculars to
see the lures they were throwing.
Plastic worms. Hey, that's what we had already changed to also?!
After another 1/2 hour of trying
we took a bathroom break and then took off too find a different spot. We
decided to putts over a little closer to the dam and as we
started to pass two guys on one of those beautiful, low slung
$60,000 bass boats we noticed one of the guys was fighting a bass.
I asked them what they were using and they replied spoons, and
that earlier plastic worms had worked well.
We quickly switched to spoons and 'slowly danced' around their boat
(trolling on slow, as they were also doing, instead of using
an anchor and not moving at all). For the next hour and
a half they continued to pound the bass. We continued to
catch nothing. We changed to
different spoons and spinners, all to no avail. We
prayed harder to the Lord, he seeming closed his ears tighter.
We were definitely starting to get frustrated.
A lady reporter pulled up and interviewed
another two guys that had just pulled into the area not too
far away. We overheard the men report to her questions they had caught many
bass, and had seen some six and seven
We seemed to be doing
everything that they were, at the same depth (bottom) the same
lures (spoons and plastic worms) and same action (slight
jiggling up and down).
pounders caught elsewhere
on the lake, and that they were very happy the lake had
She then went and interviewed the two guys that we were
slowly circling, and insult to injury, they continued to catch
and release four more bass in the five minutes they were
interviewed. (At this point I was very happy she had not come to us,
I don't know what I would have said). I was
starting to wonder if my loss of patience was causing the lack
of reward from our prayers.
The two guys waived goodbye as they pulled their bow
mounted trolling motor up and prepared to start up their 225
horsepower motor to jet across the lake to try a different area.
I scrambled to think harder of why they had caught 20 bass to
our none. What could I ask them to help us catch some
fish. Nothing seemed to come to mind. We seemed to
be doing everything that they were, at the same depth -bottom),
the same lures -spoons and plastic worms, and same action
-slight jiggling up and down.
"What size line are you guys
using" I yelled as suddenly a light came on, not knowing if it
was too late for them to hear as their motor was now running.
"I'm wondering if 12# test line is too thick", I continued.
"You have to set the hook
Love", I told her. She had not, and he had just
thrown the worm.
guy yelled back "We are using six, so yeah, you might have too thick a
line on". I agreed and instantly started scrounging
the tackle box praying we had some six pound white 'leader'
line, as it's known as. (You can have 12# line on, but
as long at the last two feet are 6# it works well, as that's
all the area the bass would notice around the bait anyway).
In the back of my mind I'd known this, but as these fish had
never been fished, nor see line before, I'd figured they would
not have cared.
They pulled up closer and offered some 6# on this humongous
spool! I said thanks anyway as I just had found some in
my tackle box.
They then grabbed onto our boat. "Let's see the rigging you've
been using" one of them said. I showed them our 'drop
shot' rigged worm. He looked it over, "good, could be
your line, and this green line (it was Maxima, a high end,
quality brand) is better than what you are starting to put on. Take
it, we are sponsored by the company and get it free. And
use these plastic worms, we get them free too." He gave
us three bags of purple with brown vein, 5 inch worms, and very
translucent. A type I've never seen. They also gave
Valerie a batch of black hooks that I did not notice until
later. "Wacky rig them they way you've been doing, and
don't expect a heavy bite, but a slight pressure on your
The mans voice boomed back
in my head "and set the hook hard with any slight pressure
felt". I reeled back and set the hook hard.
line. They are down 45 to 50 feet. Stay in that
range, and set the hook hard with any slight pressure felt".
"Thanks so much" we said, thanking both
them. They thundered off. I instantly
started to change all of our rigging. What a blessing had just happened. I
knew our luck would change, as our skill level had already
started to do.
We were 1/2 hour into our new system and nothing. I
started to wonder on top of wonder when Valerie said "I've got
one." She pulled one most of the way in after a very
long fight. But he broke off before reaching the surface
and Valerie looked bummed. "You have to
set the hook Love", I told her. She had not, and he
thrown the worm. But this was why I was excited to bring
her, figuring in one day she could learn what had taken her a
year before. Usually she only has one or two hit her
lures on the other lakes in an all day outing.
the knowledge that 'our' system had worked, we had a much
better attitude. We continued. About another
15 minutes went by with nothing. Then suddenly I'd
if I had snagged some weeds as the line felt some resistance
without the noticeable 'tap' a bass usually makes when it hits
a plastic worm.
The mans voice came booming back into my head "and set the hook hard
with any slight pressure felt". I leaned way back, setting
the hook hard. The line fought back and I knew I had one
on. As Valerie got the video camera rolling and caught
me on tape I fought and landed him with our
She was so excited she could
not talk right, and the bass was really fighting hard. I
filmed her and she could still not hardly talk right after
'Stowmaster' net, one handed.
A very nice 16 incher, and fat. A little over 3 lbs. It was about 2:30 p.m.
We finally had one in the boat.
We started fishing again.
Within five minutes I felt a slight bump. I bumped back.
It bumped back and I instantly set the hook. Another
nice 16" fat one. (All the bass are fat, so much
food in a new lake). Valerie had filmed me with that one
too. She now felt she was very un-lucky.
A few minutes later, "I've got
one" she exclaimed as she started reeling in. "Set the
hook" I yelled excitedly for her and she gave a half hearted
pull on the pole. "No, harder" I said, and another half
hearted pull was made in the middle of reeling him in.
She was so excited she could not talk right, and the bass was
really fighting hard. I filmed her and she could still
not talk right after landing him. I filmed her holding
it up. She was beaming and oh so proud.
Wow, an 18", 3.2 pounds. The biggest yet.
Another two by me within the next half hour, another 14" and a
12", a non-keeper
by this lakes standards, but officially legal to keep. We started to gather attention and people started
to 'dance' with us. What color worms?, what depths? and on
and on. We were now the pro's! Thank you
Lord for answered prayer, not the way we had asked, by making
the fish hit the way we were fishing, but by Your way, of
having two professionals share their knowledge with novices, a
game plan we had not asked for nor thought of.
We were supposed to be off the lake at 5:30
because we were so close to the launching area we just kept
fishing. We figured the ramps were so full with people leaving,
and the rangers were busy off herding up all of the anglers further
out in the lake, that we could get away with fishing a little
longer. So, the
rangers did not get to us until almost 6:30, when
no one else was left to herd in. Thanks you Lord again,
we had gained half of our lost
morning time of fishing back.
By days end, we had landed 10
bass- two official limits. (Valerie had caught another 3.4
pounder, and I had caught another two, bringing the catch of
the day to well over 30 pounds of bass. My last bass
ended up the biggest, and weighed in at 3.8#, and was about 19
inches in length, and was very fat looking, like a miniature
'lunker'. Thank you Lord!
Recipe for blackened Cajun catfish.
How deep is the lake? Click here for
Fishermen rock on at
Concert like hoopla greets
By Ed Zieralski
October 4, 2003
HEMET – It was the atmosphere of a rock concert for fishermen.
Cars were lined up 1½ miles outside the gates of Diamond
Valley Lake yesterday morning as more than 1,000 excited
anglers – many of whom camped out overnight – eagerly awaited
their chance to pull a fish out of Southern California's
They weren't disappointed.
"It was worth the wait," Marcus Noble, 18, of El Cajon said
as he and his cousin Austin Noble escorted a 4½-pound
largemouth bass back to their shoreline fishing spot after
Fishermen had waited patiently for the Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California to open this fish-filled
reservoir in the high desert. The district is calling it "the
jewel of California lakes," and yesterday the public finally
got to try this fishing gem that, to most, had been ornamental
water for more than three years.
Noble didn't reach his fishing spot on the shoreline until
9 a.m. because of the line of 250 private boats, 38 rental
boats and a sellout crowd of reservation-only anglers.
Noble was in diapers when the district first explored the
concept of building a massive reservoir to store a six-month
supply of emergency water for Southern California. He was in
grade school when construction began in 1995 of what became a
$2 billion project. But yesterday he joined others for a day
many said they'd never forget.
"Being able to fish this lake the first day like this . . .
it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Poway resident
Joe Aldridge, who fished with Scott Ferguson of Fallbrook and
Brent Whitaker of Julian.
A disc jockey tried to describe the surreal scene outside
the lake as he interviewed fishermen on his cell phone in the
predawn darkness. "I swear, it's like a concert atmosphere
here," he reported.
It was a Southern California happening, all right. There
even was a carload of gate-crashers who made an unsuccessful
attempt at a run past security guard Jim Rusk.
"Everyone wants to get on the big lake because the word is
out there's big fish in it," Rusk said. "But no reservation,
Anglers began lining up at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, even though
there had been an official warning from MWD that Hemet police
wouldn't allow vehicles and boats to line up on busy
Dominigoni Parkway. But by 4 a.m. yesterday, the rigs, RVs,
boats and trailers stretched more than 1½ miles from the
entrance. One angler slept on the dirt shoulder of the parkway
next to his boat. Another slept in a tent. Others, such as
Chris and Andrea Nicoll of Fallbrook, slept in their rig.
Chuck and Andrea Moreno of Ontario had their rental RV in
the second spot in line. The fishing-crazy couple braved the
elements even though Andrea is seven months pregnant.
Chuck said he proposed to Andrea by tying her engagement
ring on her line when she wasn't looking when they were
fishing one day.
"I told her this is a day like that, a day we'll never
forget," Chuck said. Added Andrea: "This is right up there
with getting married and having a baby."
There was free coffee, and there were commemorative plastic
floating key cases and cameras, all courtesy of MWD. Fishermen
were encouraged to take plenty of pictures, turn in the
disposable cameras on the way out, and MWD would process the
film and send the pictures to the anglers. The only condition
was that MWD gets to keep a set for possible use in its
newsletter or on its Web site.
The sizes of the boats – everything from 12-foot aluminums
to 24-foot fancy Bayliners – reflected the diverse fishery of
this 4,500-acre reservoir that is 4½ miles long and two miles
wide and has three dams. Its deepest – as much as 260 feet –
and coldest water has four strains of rainbow trout that fight
like wild fish. Its enhanced shoreline of structure and
habitat, mixed with natural cover, holds largemouth and
smallmouth bass that fishermen say, pound-for-pound, are some
of the toughest fish they've ever hooked.
Tom Stone of Baldwin Park and fishing buddy Maurice Camp of
Murrieta were No. 1 in line.
"We just wanted to be somewhere reasonable in line, but we
never dreamed we'd be first," Camp said. "I just hope we're
first all day."
As it turned out, Camp and Stone found tough fishing, as
many did. Most fished for bass exclusively, but Camp and Stone
joined a handful of others and tried trolling for trout. They
were still looking for their first fish at 10 a.m.
But, said Stone, "You don't have to catch fish to have
Fishing had been phenomenal for those prefishing the lake
and those who fished during special pre-opener events.
But even "virgin water," as many of the anglers referred to
the lake, can be tough to fish, and the old axiom of 10
percent of the fishermen catching 90 percent of the fish
kicked in here, too.
"It's about what I expected," said Mike Giusti, the
Department of Fish and Game's associate fisheries biologist
who oversaw the stocking and growing of the lake's fishery
from an 80-acre stocking pool. "The expectations were a lot
higher than the lake could deliver. But the guys who knew what
they were doing caught a lot of fish today."
Giusti estimated the boat average was 15 bass. Gary Robson
of Hemet and his two sons caught and released 90 bass.
Bob Muir, spokesman for MWD, said the day was "extremely
successful and valuable."
"Valuable because any time you have a first full run you're
provided with a lot of information that you couldn't get any
other way than with a full house," Muir said. "Our goal now is
to make some improvements and get people out as soon as
"The big thing is we launched more boats than we've ever
launched, and no one was hurt. There are still some things to
work out, but for our first true test, we have to be happy and