Maybe Thomas Wolfe was wrong. Hodges 2/24

Discussion in 'Freshwater Reports' started by Fishbreath, Feb 24, 2016.

  1. Fishbreath

    Fishbreath Fishing tales told here....some true.
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    As many of you know, I have been fishing almost exclusively at Vail for some time now. I joined there in January of 2008, but before that I called Hodges my home lake. Recently the water district that bought Vail a couple of years ago decided to draw the lake down, probably with the thought that El Niño rains would refill it. That drawdown has left the launch ramps high and dry. I had been holding out for some miracle rains, but that doesn't seem to be happening. Here is a picture of Vail taken from the air earlier in the week.
    Vail Feb 2016.jpeg

    Here is a satellite shot showing the lake at normal pool. Note how far the island is from shore. Now there is no island.
    Vail.JPG

    Heartbreaking for sure but a person has to fish, so I decided to give Hodges a try. I started keeping a log in 1996, so I have over ten years of fishing Hodges in my log. I went back and looked at all the February fishing, high water, low water, warm and cold. Actually it was 2000 before they started opening in February. Before that it was in March. Looking back at the log gave me some ideas on where to start and what to try. One thing that was pretty consistent throughout the years was that usually things really didn't start to pop until March.

    I am an early riser, so my usual inclination is to be waiting at the gate when the lake opens. I knew there had been some changes at Hodges with the advent of quagga inspections and iron rangers, so I decided to time my arrival after the initial crowd. I wanted to figure out the new process without someone behind me getting impatient.

    No problems with checking in. One reason I had put off coming for a couple of weeks is that I am recovering from a case of plantar fasciitis. The hike between the parking and the ramp would have been too painful. I'm much better now, but just to be sure I recruited @FishingBuddy to go with me. Launching at Hodges is so much easier with two people. It turns out that they let people park at the ramp now until it fills up, so being an early bird will be a good thing.

    It was really a beautiful morning. Water temperature was 60° early, warming to 64° by the time we left at 11:00. We fished the edges initially for a few scattered bites, but found the better models out about 10 to 15 feet deep. No sight fishing at Hodges. The lake is low, and the water was stained, but seemed to be in good shape otherwise.

    I hadn't intended to show any pictures of clones, but as it got close to time to leave I realized that @Kellen would disappointed if I did not rip my shirt open to reveal the secret to my super powers.
    Feb 22 Hodges 6.JPG

    Clones are fine to keep you entertained, but it's fun to catch some chunkier models too, just to give you that extra tug on your line . Pictures are a different size because they were taken on different phones. I could probably figure out how to make them the same size, but it doesn't seem worth it.
    Feb 22 Hodges 7.jpg

    This one took big fish honors at just a tick over five pounds.
    Feb 24 Hodges 3.JPG

    Same fish in a ten second video. For those of you who made fun of my voice last time I posted a video, feel free to press the mute button.
    [​IMG]

    I had made up my mind ahead of time that I wasn't going to let my Vail experience ruin it for the reality of fishing at other lakes. It was tough going this morning, but I can be OK with that. It certainly beats not fishing at all. If we got a foot of rain and Vail came back up, would I go back? In a heartbeat, but I enjoyed getting back to Lake Hodges. It felt like home.
     
    #1 Fishbreath, Feb 24, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
  2. loopup2u

    loopup2u Well-Known Member

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    Awesome report!!!

    If I hadn't seen that photo of Vail's water level, I would of never believed it, a bummer for sure.
     
  3. fisheromen

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    He CAN catch fish in other lakes! I never had a doubt! ;)

    I guess you can go home again!
     
    #3 fisheromen, Feb 24, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
  4. STiCKY

    Staff Member SDFish VIP

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    Great stuff FB, glad to see Hodges kicking out some Bass and glad to hear your recovering well and on your feet out fishing.
     
  5. Linebig

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    Great report. :):)
     
  6. Ken roe

    Ken roe Well-Known Member

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    Great Report!
    Looks like Vail is in real trouble.
    Used to fish Vail & Skinner in the 80's. Back then Vail was open to the public.
     
  7. chris102681

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    Great read. El Nino looks like a bust unless things change real soon. 85 degrees in February. It's been like this the last 3 Februarys and I always remember February being nothing like that growing up.
     
  8. fishboy92

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    Saw you guys out there today. Glad you guys picked up a few.
     
  9. NocityBS

    NocityBS Well-Known Member

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    What a bummer to pay your membership $ at Vail and have the launch ramps out of the water. Are you just screwed or are they letting you shore launch? Reimbursed?(highly doubt it) Good fish at hodges my friend. That lake likes to give people fits. Glad you weren't one of them. Smart man with the log... great resource to have.
     
  10. Fishbreath

    Fishbreath Fishing tales told here....some true.
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    Launching at Vail has been an adventure for a couple of years as the water dropped below the level of the traditional ramps. For a while we launched in the dirt. I did pretty well for not having a four wheel drive, because my boat is small. They extended Ramp #2 once, but we were in the dirt again soon. Lake staff stood by to tow those who got stuck. Then they used Ramp #3 as a starting point to build a new extendable low water ramp. It seemed like that was going to be the answer until last fall when the water district decided to take 40% of what was an already record low lake. With a few more slabs added to the extendable ramp we were good into December even though the lake was dropping at a rate of a foot every five days.

    They actually added a slab in January, and it would have been possible to launch my boat, even though I'm not sure about the bigger boats. The annual passes run on a calendar year basis, and you sign acknowledging that there are no guarantees about having enough water to launch. I don't know of anyone who bought a pass for this year. There is an area between the launch area and the main lake that is less than three feet deep now, and the lake is dropping about 3" a week just from normal evaporation.

    That was probably a longer answer than you had in mind. The short answer is that I got full use of last year's pass, but there is no way I will spend the money for a pass this year unless we somehow get enough rain to raise the lake a few feet.
     
  11. Vito1023

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    Thanks for the report my fish bud and I are planning a trip to Hodges next month and neither of us has fished it since the 80's and we loved the dam side, the narrows was another area we liked when we rented a boat other wise we shore fished right down by the dam? Where did you find the best action?
     
  12. NocityBS

    NocityBS Well-Known Member

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    Not too long at all. I appreciate the info. Launching there had its challenges occasionally which was mainly pulling out of the water caused from super cold conditions. I fished that lake quite a bit a few years back and had some insane days. Crazy numbers and absolute toads. Sad to see what our drought has caused. Part of the cycle though and things will be back to normal.
     
  13. Fishbreath

    Fishbreath Fishing tales told here....some true.
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    Quite frankly it was equally slow for us everywhere we fished. We never felt we developed a pattern. You are going to make me say it out loud aren't you? We did best on the drop shot.

    God bless 'em, you gotta love crappie fisherman. Somebody must have seen someone catch one, because 15 or 20 boats and tubes converged on one little spot just north of the boat dock. I've caught crappie early in the year in that area too, so they were probably doing OK. We stopped in at the concession as we were leaving just to see what they had. One of the guys said they sold 50 dozen crappie shiners yesterday morning.
     
    #13 Fishbreath, Feb 25, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2016
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  14. fisheromen

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    Nothing actually good follows "God bless 'em". ;)
     
  15. JJbasser

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    nicely done sir. no lake too tough.
     
  16. Vito1023

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    Thanks for the info.
     
  17. SPUDFISH63

    SPUDFISH63 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the report. Going with a buddy tomorrow :)
     
  18. Uno

    Uno
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    Well done! Hope they're going to reimburse you at Vail though.
     
  19. Fishbreath

    Fishbreath Fishing tales told here....some true.
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    Thanks, but no reimbursement expected. I got full use of last year's pass all the way through to December with over 2,000 fish for the year. I did not buy a pass for this year because of uncertainty with the launch conditions.
     
  20. Paul d

    Paul d Well-Known Member

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    I didn't renew either the water district instantly cut the hours when they took over and they wanted 10 forms of ID at the gate.. It became a joke never thought I would miss yuroslav but I did..
     
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