Although Lower Otay Reservoir holds the county’s bluegill record at 3 ½ lbs and an 85lb 9oz catfish was once pulled from the lake, it’s more widely known as being one of the best bass fisheries on the West Coast. Located a short 30-minute drive south from downtown, it’s convenient and popular for tourists and locals alike. As a side note, Otay Lake is the training grounds for rowing sports from the nearby United States Olympic Training Center. http://www.sandiego.gov/water/recreation/lotay.shtml
Lake Cuyamaca is the county’s only “true” mountain lake located at 4600-feet elevation near the historic town of Julian (50-miles east of San Diego on Hwy 79). In comparison to some of the other county lakes, it’s quite small at 110-acres, but is stocked with trout year-round and holds about 44,000lbs of fish, including bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie, and sturgeon. Lake records include a 14lb 1oz trout, a 14lb 3 oz bass, a 28lb 5oz channel catfish, and a 42lb 8oz sturgeon caught in 2007. There is nearby camping and over 100-miles of trails in the area. http://www.lakecuyamaca.org/
Dixon Lake is another tiny lake totaling 75-acres. It’s located north of San Diego in Escondido and is part of a 527-acre park offering camping and hiking. It’s better known for its nighttime catfishing and winter trout fishing, however it made history when the same bass, nicknamed “Dottie” because of a distinctive dot below her lower lip, was caught several times over a period of several years. When she was first caught in 2003, she weighed a whopping 21lbs 11oz. Dottie has since passed on, but at the time of her death in 2008 she topped the scales at a robust 25lbs. Other fish ready to be hooked are trout, catfish, bluegill and crappie. http://www.ci.escondido.ca.us/glance/lakes/dixon/index.html
Lake Morena Reservoir, located about 60-miles east of downtown, is considered one of the most remote lakes in the county. Trout season runs from November thru May with some huge lunkers being reeled in. The trout record was broken this past March when a 14lb 12oz giant was caught using a Thomas Buoyant. Lake Morena has great bass fishing as well. The lake record for a largemouth is 19lbs 3oz. Other fish include catfish, crappie, and bluegill. There is also a beautiful 86-site campground and shaded picnic area with a playground for the kids. This is my personal favorite lake for trout fishing. http://lakemorena.com/
El Capitan Reservoir (http://www.sandiego.gov/water/recreation/elcap.shtml) is one of the biggest lakes in the county at 1562-acres, with 22-miles of shoreline and a water depth of 197-feet. It’s located about 30-miles northeast of downtown and is a consistent headliner when it comes to the county’s fish counts (limits: bass 5, channel catfish 5, and crappie 25). Lake records include a 15.31lb largemouth bass, a 20.37lb channel catfish, an 18lb carp, and a 45.31lb blue catfish. Camping is available at nearby Lake Jennings (http://www.lakejennings.org/), which offers some great trout fishing and nighttime catfishing during the summer months.
Ask any local angler and they’ll have their favorite fishing hole. This is just a partial list of the many lakes within the county lines offering terrific fishing. Visit http://www.sandiego.gov/water/recreation/ to find out more about fishing in San Diego County.