Nestled around the quiet communities of San Diego’s North County Inland are some of the county’s best kept secrets. The stunning lakes that call this region home are perfect for fishing and water sports such as kayaking and water skiing.Hidden Summer Escapes
Nestled around the quiet communities of San Diego’s North County Inland are some of the county’s best kept secrets. The stunning lakes that call this region home are perfect for fishing and water sports such as kayaking and water skiing. Surrounded by hiking trails, campsites, and all the beauty that nature has to offer, outdoor lovers of any age can easily get away from the city and find the adventures and activities they crave.
Whether it’s horseback riding, hiking, windsurfing, picnicking, or fishing for largemouth bass, Lake Hodges has a little something for everyone. In addition to largemouth bass, the lake that is located in the San Dieguito River Park in southwest Escondido is also great fishing for crappie and big channel catfish, especially around the Dam and the Narrows.
Private boats are welcome and rental and motor boats are available for rent as well. Canoes, kayaks, and float tubes are also permitted on the lake. Windsurfing is available weekends only from May through October. On days where the inland temperatures rise above 80 degrees and the coast is cooler, expect to see many colorful sails navigating the waters of this unique sailing destination.
Thirty-five miles of dirt hiking and riding trails meander through scenery that drastically changes from rocky terrain to canopied forests to streams to wide open fields, offering plenty of exercise as well as picture-perfect backdrops for a summer morning hike.
Lake Dixon, located in the foothills of Escondido, is not only known for its sizable catfish, trout, and bass, but is also known for its campsites with breathtaking views overlooking the lake or the city of Escondido below.
The Dixon Dam was built in 1971, yet since its conception a decade earlier, Dixon was developed as a recreational area in addition to a water storage facility. With its forty-plus campsites, great picnic areas, and winding hiking trails, the lake was also stocked with fish six years prior to its public opening. This quickly gave Lake Dixon a reputation for the large bass that can be caught here, though the lake is even better for winter trout fishing and summer nighttime catfishing.
Row boats, paddle boats, and motor boats are available for rent. During the summer months, Night Fishing is available from Thursday through Saturday nights.
This size of the fish is certainly not determined by the size of the lake, as many fisherman have discovered while fishing the relatively tiny Lake Miramar, located about 20 miles north of San Diego. The bass here get huge, some are upwards of fifteen to twenty pounds. Bluegill, Channel catfish, sunfish, and trout also make for great fishing at Lake Miramar. Mo’s Hole, where the water pumps into the lake, is a favorite fishing spot.
There is a boat ramp and loading dock available for privately owned boats, and paddle boats, rowboats, canoes, and motor boats are available for rent Saturdays through Tuesdays, ten months a year. Kayaks and float tubes are also permitted.
The lake is usually open seven days a week year-round for other recreational uses. The paved jogging trail, which leads you 3.5 miles in, then back out the same way, is extremely popular for walking, jogging, bike riding, and rollerblading. Barbeque pits and picnic areas are located at various points around the lake.
Bass over 15 pounds are caught almost on a weekly basis, partly due to the weekly stocking of rainbow trout in the winter, a favorite meal of the largemouth. Channel catfish are stocked weekly during the summer months and can be caught during a night fishing session on Friday and Saturday nights, June through October.
The 900-square foot pavilion picnic area, complete with barbeques, tables, restrooms, and a kitchen, is great for large groups. There are smaller gazebo areas with tables and barbeques for slightly smaller gatherings. The softball field and volleyball court add fun summer games to the mix.
The campground is located at the base of the dam on four acres of wilderness, amidst the shady eucalyptus trees. The eight campsites include barbeques, picnic areas, an amphitheater, and horse corrals. Inaccessible by vehicle, the campground, which is a moderately difficult, one-mile hike in, is perfect for hiking and riding enthusiasts.
No pain no gain might be a good welcome sign at the entrance of Lake Ramona. The pain is a strenuous, three-mile hike in from the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve. The gain is a low-pressured bass and catfish fishing location that is sure to promise an all-day adventure and varying seclusion.
Located in the Hidden Valley, north of Mt. Woodson, Lake Ramona is open daily from sunrise to sunset with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Spring and summer months are the best for fishing.
The surrounding reserve is one of the unique habitat conservations that is open to the public and has a full-time naturalist on duty as well as dozens of docents on hand to answer questions and provide educational activities such as school field trips, guided hikes, and specialty hikes such as the Owl Prowl. Free wildlife and plant walks are held every weekend and are slow-paced and geared for the whole family.
Home of California’s largest freshwater fish, a 101-pound Blue Catfish caught in 2000 put San Vicente on the map. Located in the rural foothills of Lakeside, this reservoir has a natural island in the middle of the lake that is prime fishing territory. Local and national fishing tournaments are often held at San Vicente.
Catfish, Bluegill, Redear Sunfish, Black Crappie, and Largemouth bass are among the fish to catch. Because of its size, San Vicente offers lots of shoreline as well as deep water access, even on the island. Rental rowboats and motorboats are available for rent and the large paved launch ramp allows for several boats to launch at a time. Kayaks, canoes, and float tubes are also available for rent on certain days.
Currently the only lake in the county that allows water-skiing and wakeboarding, water sport enthusiasts pack the 14 miles of shoreline on Thursdays through Sundays, from May through October. A popular spot for fishers as well, San Vicente has an alternating recreational schedule, part of the year allowing more days for fishing and less for the water-contact activities. Through October, fishing is permitted Wednesdays and Thursdays only.
So whether it’s bait and tackle, hiking boots, or camping gear packed in the trunk, the lakes of North County Inland are sure to provide unrivaled summer fun.