Lake Jennings, off the I-8 in Lakeside, is an 85-acre reservoir at about 700 feet in elevation. It holds channel catfish, largemouth bass, stocked trout, blue catfish, redear sunfish, and even “wipers” — a white bass/striped bass hybrid that can reach over 20 pounds. The wipers arrived as a onetime plant of 1000 fish averaging ten inches long in the summer of 2013. Though their population is still small and few are caught, one over eight pounds was caught this February and schools of five-pound fish have been seen on submersible cameras.
9535 Harritt Road, Lakeside
Annually, the lake receives 26,000 pounds of trout, about 10 percent of which are ‘trophy fish” over five pounds. The smaller trout stocked through the winter months fire up the largemouth bass and larger catfish during the spring and summer. Trout, to larger freshwater fish, are candy, like live squid in the ocean. But, alas, as trout are stocked as a game fish, it is illegal to use them for bait.
From above, Jennings resembles a Rorschach test with its seven main coves and half a dozen points hosting smaller dents and bumps that can hold a trophy fish around every bend.
This Friday, May 27, the lake will be hosting their opening “day” for catfish night-fishing. The lake will be closed to the public until the 4 p.m. start. Night-fishing will be open until midnight Friday and Saturday through Labor Day weekend.
Over the catfish season, some 11,000 pounds of channel cats will be stocked. Though the normal catfish baits — chicken liver or blood-bait mixes — work okay in Jennings, I have found that mackerel cut into three- to five-inch strips, live shiners, or whole medium-to-large shrimp work the best.
Visit lakejennings.org or call the Bait & Tackle Shop at Lake Jennings at 619-443-2510.