When you say Spring Lake, the first thing you have to talk about is the huge fish that Paul Duclos caught here on March 1, 1997. The bass was weighed on a bathroom scale with a reported weight of 24 pounds. Then it was released back to the lake. Paul didn’t get the world record but the photos of the bass are still something to look at. It was a huge bass. Worldrecordbass.com has the photos if you want to take a look. It's still a jaw dropper 12 years later.
In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Spring Lake did produce quite a few big bass. Javad Trew and his mom Leah fished the lake from a rubber raft and claimed that they caught the world record there as well. A lot of cold water was thrown on that story, but you get the gist that there were some very large bass in this lake during this time frame.
This boom time was the result of a new-lake effect that evolved after the lake was drained, refilled, and re-stocked with Florida strain bass in the mid 80’s. There’s just something about filling up a 70-80 acre lake in CA, stocking with Florida strain bass, then pumping it full of rainbow trout that tends to result in those bass becoming enormous.
Spring Lake is 72 acres, and it is hard to find water more than 24’ deep in the lake. There is terrific weed growth here, with weeds covering more than half of the surface acreage during the summer months. The tall weeds lead to clear water in late spring and summer. Winter can find muddier conditions depending on rain and runoff. If a big rain comes the lake will flood up in to the parking lot and surrounding tullies and brush.
There are a smattering of rock piles around the shore and jutting up from the lake bottom. The shoreline is a thicket of tulies and overhanging willows. Some of the small coves tuck up under huge overhanging oaks that provide shade all day. Spring lake fishes big for a 72 acre lake – there are just so many places for bass to hide.
At a minimum there are Florida strain largemouth, rainbow trout, and bluegill in Spring Lake. Channel catfish, crappie and redear are also distinct possibilities though it’s hard to get a definitive read on whether these species are present. It is also hard to get a read on whether trout are stocked any more in Spring Lake. The lake is not listed on the DFG’s website and there was some conversation several years back to the effect that they are not stocking the lake any more.
Without the trout, the giant bass chatter has stopped at Spring Lake and there’s been no word of anything big for three or four years now. You do still hear about decent fishing for average sized bass on rattletraps, swimbaits, buzzbaits, and sight fishing. Only time will tell what the future holds for Spring Lake. If the trout come back the lake could see a resurgence as the base ingredients are here for giants.
If you go, there are pleasant tree-shaded campgrounds up above the launch ramp. Check the park web site for more information. Bring your electric motor only boat or your float tube and bring lures that fish will through grass. You’ll find no shortage of tall leafy grass and heavy cover flipping opportunities. There are some places where you can poke your nose through the brush and fish from shore but those opportunities are limited.
Worst case there’s the dream of the world record to keep you company.