It is straight up noon Thursday at Anaheim Lake, the hour and day of the weekly fishing frenzy, and Richard Paddison is fairly quivering with delicious anticipation. For nearly 15 years, Paddison, a mortgage loan officer from Anaheim, has stayed at his office late, or arrived early--or done both--so that at midday three or four days a week he can shed his business clothes, pull on a pair of jeans, drive to Anaheim Lake and go fishin' for trout.
And because today is Thursday, Paddison and several other waiting fishermen know that at any moment a tank truck will arrive that will be full of 2,000 pounds of rainbow trout ready to be sluiced into the lake.
The eager men and women waiting on the banks of the lake are untypical of most Orange County sport fishermen. Their quarry is not yellowtail or bonito or any other saltwater fish. They don't get up before dawn to sail into the cold offshore waters. They don't carry heavy poles and tackle boxes.
Rather, they travel light, using thin, whippy, sometimes homemade rods. They arise at reasonable hours. They sometimes bait their hooks with marshmallows. They are less like Ernest Hemingway and more like Huck Finn. They don't fish . They go fishin'.
So they go to Anaheim Lake (and also to the nearby Santa Ana River Lakes fishing area) just east of the Orange Freeway and south of Orangethorpe Avenue in pursuit of the wily trout.
"I like the availability here," Paddison says. "You don't have to worry about getting up and getting on a boat at 6 in the morning. It's a more relaxed atmosphere."
Fred Reller, a salesman from La Palma and a regular at the lake for 16 years, isn't able to take off enough time to fish this day, but he drops by anyway, dressed in his business suit, just to chat and watch the trout stocking.
"Yeah, I fish here almost every weekend," he says. "And I'll come down here on my lunch hour, too. The weather's good, it's close to home and you can keep your costs down if you fish a lot."
The lake, which has two miles of shoreline, opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m., and an all-day permit costs $8 for adults and $6 for senior citizens and children under 12. Boats are available for rent.
Tackle and bait also are for rent, but many of the fishermen have their own favorite techniques and pieces of equipment. Ollie Kirkham, a retired construction worker from Compton who says he comes to the lake three or four times a week, favors night crawlers or marshmallows dipped in a mixture of garlic, anise "and otherwise."
While many of the trout in the lake weigh in single digits, the occasional whopper is landed. In fact, on Dec. 4, a 16.1-pounder was pulled in by James White, a fisherman from Gardena, using a night crawler as bait. Alice Carlson, the assistant manager of the lake, said it was the Orange County record for rainbow trout.
A former gravel pit, the lake has been operating for 17 years, says Lance Cleary, the general manager. Weekends and holidays are busiest, he says, when as many as 700 people will line the banks or fish from boats. But, busy or not, the sport, at Anaheim lake at least, is still fishin'.
"A lot of these people," says Cleary, gesturing at the eagerly casting bunch down at the launching ramp, "they'll just catch 'em and give 'em away. Or maybe they'll just throw 'em back. They just like coming out here and catching 'em."
ANAHEIM LAKE AT A GLANCE
Where: 3451 Miraloma Ave., Anaheim (between Tustin Avenue and Kraemer Avenue).
Hours: 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Season: From mid-October to early July (lake is drained in summer months).
Daily permit rates: $8 for adults, $6 for senior citizens and children under 12 when accompanied by an adult.
Fishing license: None needed.
Stock: Rainbow trout and some channel catfish (generally between 2 and 10 pounds).
Limit: Five fish per day.
Rentals: Boats without motors, $12; boats with motors, $20; tackle available for rent.
Private motors and boats: Private motors of 10 horsepower or less allowed on rental boats. Any size electric motor allowed. Private boat launching allowed except for sailboats, canoes or rubber rafts. Private boats must be at least 10 feet long. $5 launch fee and 5 m.p.h. speed limit.
Facilities: Paved parking, permanent restrooms with facilities for handicapped, food, bait and tackle.
Pets: Not permitted.