Lake Wohlford where the catfish are biting

Tom Brinneman, Roy Brinneman and Isabella Brinneman enjoy the fishing.

You know what they say, a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work. And then some. That’s what brought three diverse generations of the Brinneman clan to the shore of Lake Wohlford last week where they found the catfish fishing and it was good.

“We’ve got three catfish in there,” Roy Brinneman said, pointing to a cooler. “They just stocked them and the bite is pretty good.”

Talk about family bonding opportunities, Brinneman is co-manager of a Wildomar US Bank branch. His daughter Isabelle, an incoming Valley Center Primary student and his dad, retired Marine Staff Sgt. Tony Brinneman were along for the bite and loving every second of it.

“This is really good,” Isabella said as she danced around a stationary fishing pole, it’s bait hanging over the lake. Tony Brinneman sat in a chair under an umbrella dispensing veteran insight.

How long has he been doing this? “I been doing this for who knows how long,” Tony Brinneman said before reconsidering. “For the last 40 years at least.”

The family fishing party got started around 6 a.m and planned to stay “until we got tired,” probably around 2 p.m. or so.

Picnic park by Lake Wohlford.

Picnic park by Lake Wohlford.

 Fishing is fun

That’s pretty much the scene at the Escondido-operated lake. While some places such as Lake Hodges rely on rain and runoff, water is pumped into Lake Wohlford so fishing is consistent. Drought or not, the fishing has been excellent here by all accounts.

Jim Dayberry, city of Escondido ranger supervisor, was large and in charge at the lake, more of a labor of love than a mere j-o-b to hear him tell it.

“I love my job,” Dayberry said. “The thing is people who come out here are in a great mood. Who wouldn’t be?”

The fishing has been pretty good this year, Dayberry opined as he noted that 3,000 pounds of catfish were planted last week really boosting the holiday and summer fishing. July 4 was an especially plentiful event with 100 to 200 fishing fools and all 30 of the lake’s boats rented with up to five people per boat.

“The fourth was great,” Dayberry said, “and we had a couple of big bass, including a 9.4 pound bass on a crank-bait.”

Fishing for a derby

Coming as it did on a Saturday, the Fourth of July  featured two lakeside anomalies, one of which was good, the other not so much. Twice a year, generally on the Saturday of a holiday weekend, the state of California does away with fishing licenses, waiving the $15 fee. While fishing folk still need a lake permit, the fee abatement is a good tiding. The Saturday over the Labor Day weekend will feature a similar arrangement.

The bittersweet news came in the form of cancellation of the annual Catfish Derby. Interest, as always, was high, by the falling of the Fourth on a Saturday meant a dearth of needed volunteers who were participating in one of the many other Fourth of July events. Have no fear, however, the derby returns next year, Dayberry said.

Another great event loved by one and all passed as well recently. Night fishing was in session with people allowed to fish from boats until 10:45 p.m. and from the shoreline through 11:45 p.m. The kicker to this deal is catfish love to bite at night and when they go for the bait, it’s all over but the catfish dinner.

Dayberry worked 15 years at Lake Dixon for the Escondido water authority before transferring five years ago to Lake Wohlford. He’s seen people come and go during that time. Summer is especially fun as kids on summer break from school come to the lake in mass quantities. Other groups such as the VFW organize outings centered on the lake as well.

For more information on Lake Wohlford now open ever day, visit