In San Diego there are two lakes where most of our local tournaments are held, Lake San Vicente and Lake El Capitan. The variety of situations offered at these lakes provides anglers the opportunity to choose from a variety of techniques depending on the conditions. Fish can often be caught on ripbaits, topwater, swimbaits, senkos and many other shallow water baits. However, they also offer great deepwater fishing year round, that is often overlooked.
There are specific techniques that should be used when approaching a deepwater bite regardless of where you are fishing. When surveying an area to fish, search the shoreline for points, rocks, slopes, and creek channels. When you find an area on shore that looks like the structure or slope continues into the water, turn on your graph and begin map the area. Look for structure and fish. If you spot fish on the graph make multiple passes and ensure the fish are holding on the structure and not just passing through. Typically, if the fish are there on a second pass, they will continue to hold on that point or piece of structure for an extended amount of time.
Once you find an area to fish, you must determine how you will fishing it. There are many different techniques which can be effective when deepwater fishing but my favorite three are dropshot, Carolina rigging, and Ika fishing. If you are fishing in heavy wind, or trying to cover a lot of water, Carolina rigging is your best bet. With this technique you can use a larger weight and it will constantly keep you in contact with the bottom. This technique is usually fished fairly quickly on heavier line which allows you to cover more water throughout the day. While fishing a Carolina rig, the most effective baits are lizards and larger worms.
When fishing isolated structure or if the bite is a little tough, a dropshot may be the best bet. While using lighter line you do have to play fish a lot more however, when the bite is tough, light line finesse fishing can often trigger the lock jawed fish to bite. I usually stick with a four inch Roboworm when fishing a dropshot because it is effective. I have built a lot of confidence in the Roboworm over the years.
Ika fishing is a lure that I usually use when trying to trigger a larger bite. Since the Yamamoto bait is fairly large and imitates a crawdad, it is usually effective when trying to trigger a larger bite. It can be flipped, pitched, or cast. However, it is also extremely effective when deepwater fishing. It will take a lot of time to sink to the bottom since it falls about one foot per second, it may take up to a minute to reach the bottom. It is easiest to work uphill moving it only a few feet at a time, with most of the strikes coming as the bait is falling back to the bottom.
Now taking all these techniques and applying them to your home lake is the key to being successful when deepwater fishing. When deepwater fishing at San Vicente, I target depths from 20- to 60-feet deep depending on the time of year. During summer I am target areas from 20- to 40-feet deep with dropshot and Ika's as my baits of choice. At San Vicente green and purple colors seem to be the best choice for success.
At El Capitan, I target fish in the 15- to 35-foot range when deepwater fishing, rarely fishing deeper than 35-feet. Personally, at El Capitan, I have more confidence fishing the Carolina rig deep because the lake often can often kick up some high winds throughout the day.
Each lake is different, and therefore anglers much adapt depending on their fishing locations. However, during the warm weather, remember to explore all your options including deep water fishing. It can often be the key to unlocking extremely successful days on the lake.
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