San Vicente – Then, Now and the Future

Target For Lunker Hunters by Chuck Garrison. Spring 1977 issue of Western Bass magazine.

Target For Lunker Hunters by Chuck Garrison page one. Spring 1977 issue of Western Bass magazine.

If you’ve followed the southern California bass scene since the 70s, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of Lake San Vicente – simply called San V by locals. Recently I was reading a 1977 issue of Western Bass magazine and came across an old article penned by the late Chuck Garrison about the famed lake. It brought back memories, but it also brought to mind what could be brewing in the near future. I’ve included the article in full here for all to read in order to give you an idea of what a lake it was in its early days. It’s possible that we could see a resurrection of sorts as this old lake gets a face lift. You’ll see why as you read more.

While San Diego lakes such as Miramar and Lower Otay made national headlines in the early ‘70s, it was San V that stole the limelight in the mid to late ‘70s with an onslaught of teeners caught by lunker hunters such as “Lunker” Bill Murphy and Bobby Sandberg. [Read more…]

Florida-Strain Bass Changed the World of Bass Fishing

Photo Bassmaster Magazine Spring 1970. Article by Bill Rice.

Editor’s Note: Bill Rice has been writing about bass fishing since the mid-60s. Earlier this year we did a story on his career and today he offers up this account of how the Florida bass got their start in California and the ensuing race to catch  the world record largemouth bass. We hope you enjoy this historical look at how the Florida-strain largemouths got to California. To read about Bill’s life and career, please click here.

Few of today’s bass anglers know the history of “big bass” – which actually began thanks to the vision of a Californian, spurred on by an inquisitive pro baseball player.  That man was Orville Ball, fisheries biologist and head of the recreation program for the City of San Diego Recreation Department from the mid-50s until around 1969.  It was back in 1959 after a fishing trip with friends that Ball had the idea to experiment with the introduction of Florida-bred largemouth bass into the waters of Southern California. [Read more…]

Unintensional Frankenstein – The Start of the Record Quest

Dave Zimmerlee poses with his California State Record largemouth bass and his rinky-dink rod and reel. Photo from the cover of Bass master magazine 1973 Sept/Oct Issue.

The bass fishing world was rocked on June 23, 1973, when southern California resident Dave Zimmerlee caught the first bass weighing more than 20 pounds since George Perry set the record 42 years earlier at Montgomery Lake, Ga.

Tiny 183-acre Lake Miramar yielded the then-California record. Weighing in at 20-15, the fish dwarfed the existing record of 17-14 caught by James Bates out of Lake Murray one year earlier.

In 1959, the California Department of Fish and Game joined forces with the Florida Fish and Wildlife to transport and release 20,000 Florida bass fingerlings into San Diego’s Upper Otay reservoir. Upper Otay would act as the brood pond for the Floridas which would then be transplanted into area lakes. The Floridas were chosen because they exhibited a growth rate almost twice as fast as their northern brethren and City Parks officials wanted a fish that would offer a sustainable population for its patrons.

Little did they know what would happen in the near future. [Read more…]