Posts

Lake Jennings Hosts Kids Fishing Day

Hundreds of pounds of rainbow trout were biting for participants on Saturday during the sixth annual Kids Fishing Day at Lake Jennings in Lakeside.

The event started in 2015 has been an annual highlight ever since its inception. Kids ages 9 and under fished for free all day Saturday at the Kids Pond, which is a 20-by 20-foot cube within the lake.

Recreation Manager Kira Haley says Lake Jennings was stocked with 2,000 pounds rainbow trout from Wright’s Rainbows in Thatcher, Idaho the week of February 3. Eight hundred pounds went directly into the Kids Pond, which is then attached to the floating accessible fishing dock.

Two of the many happy Kids Fishing Day participants show off their catches. Photo: Lake Jennings

Lake Jennings Hosts Kids Fishing Day

Hundreds of pounds of rainbow trout were biting for participants on Saturday during the sixth annual Kids Fishing Day at Lake Jennings in Lakeside.

The event started in 2015 has been an annual highlight ever since its inception. Kids ages 9 and under fished for free all day Saturday at the Kids Pond, which is a 20-by 20-foot cube within the lake.

Recreation Manager Kira Haley says Lake Jennings was stocked with 2,000 pounds rainbow trout from Wright’s Rainbows in Thatcher, Idaho the week of February 3. Eight hundred pounds went directly into the Kids Pond, which is then attached to the floating accessible fishing dock.

“Kids don’t remember their best day in front of the television, but they remember the first day they caught a fish with a proud parent cheering them on,” said Haley.

Two hundred kids got to catch and take home a trout. Haley says kids as young as two years old participated with a little adult help, including volunteers from the Lakeside Optimist Club, who helped prepare the fishing rods for the kids. Bait choices included nightcrawlers, cheese, white power worms, and mealworms.

Lake Jennings home to trout, catfish, bass, bluegill and sunfish

Getting your hands a little slimy is part of fun at Kids Fishing Day at Lake Jennings. Photo: Lake Jennings

Getting your hands a little slimy is part of fun at Kids Fishing Day at Lake Jennings. Photo: Lake Jennings

Operated by the Helix Water District, Lake Jennings stocks 20,000 pounds of trout annually on a biweekly schedule between November and April when water temperatures are cool enough for trout to survive and 10,000 pounds of catfish in the warmer summer months.

In addition, large-mouth bass, red-ear sunfish and bluegill, as well as channel and blue catfish live in Lake Jennings. Sign up for the Lake Jennings Fish Report online to see what fish are biting.

Recreational fishing is the second most popular leisure activity in the U.S., second only to running. While the majority of avid fishermen and women are over 45, approximately 11.25 million youth ages six to 17 participate in fishing in the U.S. annually

City of San Diego’s Hodges Reservoir Reopens Feb. 5 for Recreation

The city of San Diego’s Hodges Reservoir will officially reopen to the public three days a week beginning on Wednesday, Feb. 5, allowing access for a variety of activities, including boating, fishing, hiking and picnicking. Hodges is normally closed November through January.

Hodges will be open Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from sunrise to sunset. It will also be open on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day holidays.

Lake Jennings staff including Recreation Manager Kira Haley (front row, fifth from left) rely on their dedicated volunteers including Lori Stangel (front row, sixth from left). Photo: Helix Water District

Volunteer Opportunities at Water Agency Reservoirs in San Diego County

People around the world know the San Diego region for its beautiful setting along the Pacific Ocean. But visitors, and even many local residents, aren’t aware of the recreational activities available year-round at area reservoirs.

There are 24 reservoirs in San Diego County. Of these, there are 18 fishable lakes and some offer overnight camping. Popular activities also include boating, kayaking, hiking, and picnicking.

Lake Jennings Reservoir, east of El Cajon, is called a “hidden jewel.” Lake Jennings Recreation Manager Kira Haley admits she didn’t know much about the lake even though she grew up in nearby La Mesa.

“It’s a beautiful resource, and it’s so close to home,” said Haley.

Volunteers help maintain the Lake Jennings campsites, which include five tipis. Photo: Helix Water DIstrict

Volunteers help maintain the Lake Jennings campsites, which include five tipis. Photo: Helix Water District

Volunteers help Lake Jennings operations become self-sustaining

Haley arrived in December 2014 with the goal of making the Lake Jennings self-sustaining. Recent park upgrades and an aggressive outreach program have attracted new visitors. The Helix Water District considered closing the park due to financial losses. But in 2018, Lake Jennings Park made a profit for the first time.

Onsite volunteers make a significant contribution to park operations. Onsite volunteers live full-time at Lake Jennings in campers and trailers in exchange for campsite space and electricity. They perform key roles by staffing the information and registration kiosk, monitoring and maintaining the 97 campsites, answering questions, and responding on-call 24 hours. All volunteers receive training in first aid and evacuation procedures.

“We find the volunteers through word of mouth or regular campers who retire,” said Haley. “Some work other jobs and still volunteer 24 hours each week. Their backgrounds are varied. Some have been with us for many years.”

Visitors can enjoy hiking year-round at Lake Jennings. Trail maps are available from volunteers at the campground kiosk. Photo: Helix Water District

Visitors can enjoy hiking year-round at Lake Jennings. Trail maps are available from volunteers at the campground kiosk. Photo: Helix Water District

Eight campsites are home to the volunteers, whether individuals or couples. Haley is currently recruiting new volunteers. The Helix Water District oversees the hiring process. Applications are now available on the Helix Water District website jobs page.

“It’s wonderful to live in a place like this in a natural open space situation,” said Haley. “There is a grocery store a mile away, but when you’re here, you feel like you’re in the wilderness. Everyone who comes out here is looking to have a great time. It makes for a wonderful work environment.”

Retired teacher puts her experience to work at Lake Jennings

Volunteer Lori Stangel arrived at Lake Jennings five years ago intending to stay six months, but is still a dedicated onsite volunteer host. Photo: Helix Water District

Intending to stay six months, Lori Stangel has worked as an onsite volunteer host for five years. Photo: Helix Water District

Retired kindergarten teacher Lori Stangel returned to her native San Diego after working in Arizona. She and her husband Chuck found a notice online about Lake Jennings volunteer opportunities and thought the six-month assignment would provide an ideal transition. Five years later, the Stangels are still living and working at Lake Jennings.

“I love nature, and I love being outdoors,” said Lori Stangel. “I love working with the public, and I work for the best staff and administration at Helix you can imagine. They make me feel welcome; it means a lot to me.”

Stangel puts her 30 years of experience as an educator into her volunteer role.

“I get to educate people and families about nature through the outdoors,” said Stangel. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for retired people, but also for young people. They can still go to school or work part-time. It’s a win-win. I’m here because I love it.”

As a Ms. California Senior America pageant competitor, Stangel also spreads the word about Lake Jennings as a valued environmental resource in her personal advocacy platform.

Additional San Diego County Water Authority member agency recreational facilities with volunteer opportunities include Santee Lakes, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, and Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, Olivenhain Municipal Water District.

Santa Margarita River Property To Be Sold To A Wildland Conservancy; Trails Will Remain Open

A three-mile stretch of the Santa Margarita River and the land that surrounds it, property that could have been at the bottom of a reservoir if plans in the 1950s had been realized, will soon be sold to a wildlife conservancy for $10 million. The acquisition of the 1,384-acre property will be known as the Santa Margarita River Preserve and will insure that the extensive and popular trail system along the river will remain forever. The Fallbrook Public Utility District agreed earlier this year to sell the land it has owned for about 60 years to The Wildlands Conservancy.