DIAMOND VALLEY LAKE – A relatively new reservoir located near the southern California community of Hemet, Diamond Valley Lake is easily the largest body of water in southern California with 4,500 surface acres and depths to 260 feet when full. Construction on the lake began in 1995 and was completed in 2003. Water to fill the reservoir came from the Colorado River Aqueduct. The reservoir was formed after the construction of three earth-filled dams and the total construction cost was 1.9 billion dollars.
While many forms of recreation are available to pursue at DVL, the most popular forms of recreation are fishing and boating and the numbers and size of the fish in the reservoir can be mind-boggling. While channel cats to more than 25 pounds have been pulled from DVL, the record catfish was a recently taken blue cat that weighed 56.8 pounds. Striped Bass have been caught weighing more than 33 pounds and a number of stripers have been caught that fell just shy of the DVL mark – leading many anglers to believe that a new striper record could happen at any time.
Many anglers believe that Diamond Valley is the best bet to topple the official California state record largemouth of 21.75 pounds, but while the lake produces numerous bass weighing more than ten pounds, the official record is a 16 pound seven ounce lunker taken in 2007 by noted lunker bass angler Mike Long. Smallmouths are also present in the reservoir and have been caught to weights of more than five pounds. However, the growth rates of DVL’s largemouth bass is believed to be the fastest of any fishery in southern California with two and a half year old bass weighing as much as five pounds.
Panfish are an important part of the total fishing picture at DVL and crappies weighing well over three pounds have been caught as well as bluegills weighing more than two pounds. However, the most impressive DVL panfish catch, to date, is a four pound seven ounce redear sunfish.
Stocked rainbow trout have been a spectacular success at Diamond Valley with yearly growth rates of up to two pounds per year. Many five to ten pound rainbows are taken each year and the lake record is a 15 pound seven ounce fish. Brown trout were also stocked in the lake, but in smaller numbers, and they also reach good size. They are slower-growing than the rainbows, but have been caught at weights approaching ten pounds and their longer life span could mean that the very largest trout in DVL might be a brown trout. Despite the numbers of large predators (including larger trout) in the reservoir, there have been good returns on trout planted as fingerlings.
The fact that Diamond Valley Lake is an incredible fishing spot should not be surprising. The lake was created with fishermen in mind and there is many types of underwater structure. The base of the food chain is the threadfin shad and much of the reservoir can be fished from shore. The lake has a boat speed limitation of 25 mph, but only 5 mph within 200 feet of shore or near the marina.
Even a fishing spot as ideal as Diamond Valley Lake has at least one wart and that is the usual lake hours for fishing or boating only run from sunrise through sunset (or slightly earlier).