It had been over 5 years since my last trip to Diamond Valley Lake (aka “The Jewel of Southern California”). My fellow UFC fishing fanatic, Rick “R2” Raives had never been there. So, we made a plan to take advantage of the Wednesday half-price special they have on their rentable Bass boats … $60/day for their “Deluxe” version (more on that later) which includes an aluminum jon boat equipped with a 25HP motor, Lowrance X52 fishfinder, and bow-mounted MotorGuide trolling motor. We arrived a few minutes after the lake had opened, took care of the proper paperwork, loaded the boat, and were on the water by 6:45am under cloudy skies, a slight breeze, algae-filled 74° water, and 60° air temps.
We started out by heading to one of the islands that are present on the lake. I started by tossing a spinnerbait along the submerged tree line while R2 opted for a Senko inside of it. He made the right choice, as it didn’t take long for him to hook up on his first DVL Bass with this nice 2 pounder. He quickly followed that up with another clone fish and a smaller model. We fished the rest of the island for no additional action.
We then headed towards a nearby cove to hit the weedline, where recent reports had the fish holding. But, as we eased into the cove and turned off the motor, it immediately began pouring out white acrid smoke and wouldn’t even think of turning back over. Fortunately, we had cell service to call the marina and report our problem. While we waited for our rescue, we cruised around with the trolling motor vainly fishing the now barren weedline, all while lamenting the fact that we were going to lose a ton of prime fishing time while getting towed back in. Our fears were quickly dissuaded when two boats arrived … a tow boat and our replacement boat! Gotta love good customer service!!
Unfortunately, we quickly found out that the “Deluxe” boats all had trolling motors that were missing their frame pin, allowing the motor to jump up each time you hit the pedal. Rather than loudly announce our presence to the fish all day, Rick went into MacGyver mode and jerry-rigged a solution with a pair of pliers, some fishing line, and the docking rope. While it was a hassle untying and retying every time we changed spots, it did the trick the rest of the day, giving us a stealthier approach.
After working a main lake point for no love, I was itching to get my first fish of the day. I suggested we head over to a steep wall and start throwing Senkos into the holes and cuts. Sure enough, on my first cast to a cut that was fronted by a submerged tree, I felt the familiar tap-tap on a 5″ Malibu-rigged Kinami Flash, in my go-to Mad Melon color. I quickly reeled down and reared back … BOOM! I was on with a nice fish that tried vainly to saw me off in one of the underwater trees. However, the 8 pound test Yo-Zuri Hybrid held up, so that I could hold up this chunky 3.5 pounder.
We continued down the wall, each of us scoring several fish in the 2 pound range and getting numerous short bites. Then, Rick cast to some chunk-rock and tied into a fish that was giving him a dogged fight, giving us hope that we had found one of the bigger models. Though, it turned out to be this decent-sized Smallmouth … the only Brownie we would find on the day.
We worked the wall one more time for a couple more fish and a few more short bites before heading over to the East Dam, where I had done some serious damage the last time I was lucky enough to fish The Jewel. Regrettably, by the time we motored over there, the sun was out and the wind had really picked up, which made working our finesse baits very difficult. While I did manage to pick up one 2 pounder on the Dangle-shot technique I’ve been experimenting with, and we each had a couple of other hits with it, we felt that there were greener pastures elsewhere.
We found a bank that had a mixture of submerged bushes and scattered small boulders. I stayed with the new technique and the Senkos while Rick switched over to an Ika. Again, that was the ticket as he quickly boated several fish. I hastily joined the fray when I “borrowed” an Ika from my boat partner and hooked into another 3+ pound beast. After the photo shoot and release, we continued with the hot Ika bite for the next hour – while still experiencing a fair number of non-committal fish.
We headed to the Southwest side of the lake, but found that the algae was heaviest there and we could only manage a few bumps and taps. So, we headed North and found another small wall fronted with submerged trees. I was able to pick off a few more fish while Rick managed one more. Although we worked several areas, including our first wall area, over the next hour and a half, we couldn’t land any more fish … even though we had several more chances, including another 3+ pound class fish I snapped off at the boat. In fact, if we could have connected a bit more, we would have come close to doubling our 22 fish sack. Rick had the quantity (13), while I had the quality.
Nonetheless, we had a blast and decided we need to do this trip at least twice a year. Especially when we learned, upon returning the boat to the dock, that for a mere $12.50 more for the day we could have had a “Premium” boat: newer fiberglass jon boat with non-slip decks; newer/stronger 25HP engine; newer Lowrance electronics; and, most importantly, a newer trolling motor WITH the frame pins! We will definitely be spending the extra $6.25 each for that!!