Previous to the turn of the century the lake was known primarily for its rainbow trout and catfish. That all changed in 2001, when a 20 lb 12 oz bass was caught out of Dixon. That transcended the lake from a quiet trout destination to the forefront of the largemouth bass world record chase.
Dixon Lake offers anglers four fishing piers to target Rainbow Trout, Bluegill, Channel Catfish, and Largemouth Bass. Rainbow Trout are stocked from late Fall into early Spring. This is one of the most popular trout lakes in the county, and can be very busy during the Winter months following a trout stock. The lake is also popular for its Summer night-time catfishing, which can be very good.
Location / Directions
Dixon Lake is located in the avocado covered foothills one mile northeast of the City of Escondido. Take the 15 freeway to El Norte Pkwy exit in Escondido. Go east 4 miles to La Honda, and make a left (you'll probably see the sign for Dixon Lake before you see the sign for La Honda). Follow La Honda up the hill until you get to Dixon Lake.
The dam at Lake Dixon was completed in 1971 as the result of a water storage act passed almost a decade before. Since it's conception Dixon was intended for recreational use, as well, of course, as water storage. During the construction of the dam, the park surrounding the lake was developed into a recreation facility with picnic shelters, campgrounds, hiking trails, fishing floats and a concession stand. Fish were stocked in the reservoir 6 years prior to opening to the public.
Facilities & Camping Information
Each campsite has either a view overlooking the lake, or overlooking the city of Escondido. There are 44 individual campsites nestled into the hills above the lake, each with a table, stove and food locker and nearby access to restrooms with showers (10 campsites have sewer, electrical and water hookups for motor homes and trailers). Reservations for camping and picnic shelters can be made Monday - Friday, 7:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., by calling (760) 741-3328. Walk-in reservations can be made at the Concession Building at Lake Dixon. Reservations will only be accepted with payment of all use fees and reservation fee. Reservation for campsites begins 2:00 p.m. on date desired and ends 12:00 noon (check-out time) on day of departure.
Hours, Fees & Boating Information
The park is open everyday from 6:00 AM to sunset year-around. Night fishing is available during the summer months when the lake is open until 11:45 PM (boats due back by 11pm). Private boats, float tubes, and gas outboards are not permitted at the lake. Row boats, motorboats, and paddleboats are available for rent. You may bring your own electric motor and battery for use on a rowboat if you if you choose. Rental boats are of the 14 ft. aluminum Valco 3-bench variety. Anchors are cement filled coffee cans. Anglers are required to purchase a daily fishing permit, but currently (as of December 2010) are not required to possess a California State Fishing License.
The Most Famous Bass in the World
Dixon was made famous in the 2000's by a series of catches (of the same bass) that grasped national attention. In April of 2001, Mike Long of Poway caught a 20 lb. 12 oz. bass, one of the largest of all-time. Just over two years later, in June of 2003, Jed Dickerson of Carlsbad caught a 21 lb. 11 oz. bass. This is where it gets really interesting - the 21 lb. 11 oz. monster is thought to be the same bass that Long caught (and released) in 2001. Made famous by her "beauty mark," the distinct bass has earned her share of publicity. Most would assume a bass this size would be near the end of its growing stage and not be able to add much more weight, or live much longer for that matter. Wrong.
In March of 2006, one of the most remarkable catches in sportfishing lore was "made." Just before 8:00am on the morning of March 20th, Mac Weakley (friend of Jed Dickerson) hooked and boated the largest bass ever recorded at 25 lb. 1 oz. Just mere minutes afterwards, the catch was reported on our message boards. Discussion followed as the details of the catch became available. The fish was found to have been foul hooked, therefore not recognized as the world record.
Mike Winn (another friend of Mac Weakley and Jed Dickerson) is shown in the attached picture posing with the 25 lb sow caught by Mac Weakley. This is widely believed to be the same fish caught in 2001 by Long, and in 2003 by Jed Dickerson.
The fish was affectionately named Dottie, due to the black dot on her chin. Dottie's legend grew well outside San Diego and little Dixon Lake. Her story was told on the National Geographic Channel on a special titled "Hooked on Bass." The life and death of Dottie was also covered by ESPN in an article titled, "The One That Got Away." Dottie was found by lake staff, floating dead in Dixon in May of 2008. Still, the lake received a lot of attention and became one of the most famous in the entire world, changing it forever.
- Alcohol prohibited in all areas except the campground!
- NO BODILY CONTACT WHATSOEVER, Dixon Lake is a domestic drinking water supply!
- Pets are not allowed in the park!
- CHARCOAL FIRES ONLY are permitted - EXTREME FIRE DANGER!
- Use of firearms and weapons of any kind are prohibited in the park!
- Private boats are not allowed on the lake!
- Gas powered outboards are prohibited on the lake!
- Speed limit within the park is 10 mph!!
- Current daily permits are required on person while fishing!
- RESTRICTED AREA - lake and shoreline around the outlet tower and dam are off limits!