Posted by: mikewochner | April 6, 2014

Fishing Big Bear Lake

Dax Wood, aka "the fish whisperer", Fishing Big Bear Lake

Dax Wood, aka “the fish whisperer”, Fishing Big Bear Lake

Thought this was an interesting article published in the Big Bear Grizzly regarding trout fishing in Big Bear Lake.

Catch on to help with Big Bear fish plants

There’s a lot to be said for a day spent trout fishing on Big Bear Lake. There’s the camaraderie, a oneness with nature, the hope that springs eternal with every cast.

But last year, those hopes were dashed for many trout anglers, who experienced a lake of declining rewards. And make no mistake, for many if not most fishers, catching is the best part of fishing.

So what made the worm turn for the worse?

Trout plants by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in 2013 were roughly half of previous seasons, Mike Stephenson, lake operations manager for the Big Bear Municipal Water District, told The Grizzly in November. About 157,000 pounds of trout were stocked. Expect a similar number in 2014, as the Department’s fish plant program struggles with a fry-size budget and a costly new requirement that hatchery fish be infertile to avoid breeding with wild strains.

You didn’t need a solunar table to figure out what would happen: Big Bear is a put-and-take lake, and the size of the trout harvest is directly proportional to the size of the planting.

Dry, mild winters also may be a contributing factor, resulting in lower water levels and increased angling pressure, which reduces the number of holdover trout available in the spring.

Stephenson acknowledged to The Grizzly late last year that the lake used to be a 10 on a scale of 1-to-10 for trout fishing. Last season, he said, he’d give the lake a 7. The water district already spends about $45,000 on fish plants, Stephenson said, and can’t afford to pick up the slack lines left by the state.

In many places, poor fishing would be little cause for concern. But in Big Bear, when the fishing suffers, the local economy suffers.

Trout tournaments and trout fishing attract thousands to town, often in the shoulder seasons when area merchants and lodging providers need a boost. Marinas, bait and tackle shops, and guide services are important employers in Big Bear, and as the fishing goes, so goes business. Even the real estate industry hinges in part on a productive fishing lake, and the resulting word-of-mouth advertising. For many, tight lines are an important part of the Big Bear lifestyle.

So what’s a town to do?

Officials with at least one local tournament— the Jim Hall Memorial May Trout Classic—are taking a proactive approach to improving the fishing. Tournament officials are reducing prize money to plant more trophy rainbow trout in the lake in advance of the tournament May 17 and 18.

Similarly, organizers of the 2014 Aaron’s Big Bear Lake Bass Tournament Championship series are accepting donations from anglers to pay for a bass plant.

Other outdoors and business organizations should follow suit, and cast about for ways to put more fish in the lake.

Local residents could ask their state legislators to support Big Bear by increasing funding for fish plants.

And anglers can lend a hand by handling trout carefully, and practicing catch-and-release.

Posted by: mikewochner | April 1, 2014

East Launch Ramp Set to Open


East Boat Launch Ramp 4/1/14

East Boat Launch Ramp 4/1/14

It doesn’t feel much like Spring today….very windy and cold with a light “dusting” of snow this morning.  Weather is suppose to warm up towards the end of the week but with such a mild Winter, everyone is thinking about the Lake.

Article courtesy of Big Bear Grizzly

East Launch Ramp set to open

Spring is officially here, and while some of the marinas have been open for weeks, others are joining the party now that the calendar officially says spring.

Holloway’s Marina has been open since February. The marina is open seven days a week, and pontoon rentals and other amenities are available.

Big Bear Marina opened March 22 for pontoon rentals and is slated to open for all other services Friday, March 28.

Pleasure Point Marina and Captain John’s Fawn Harbor opened March 22 for the season, Pine Knot Marina opened March 22 for weekends with the full opening slated for April 1.

Also opening April 1 is the Big Bear Municipal Water District’s East Launch Ramp. Early season hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Entry gates lock at closing time.

North Shore Landing is scheduled to open May 1 and the West Launch Ramp opens May 9.

For information on quagga inspections, licences and other information, visit the MWD website at

• East Launch Ramp: 41911 North Shore Drive, Big Bear Lake, 909-866-5200.

Big Bear Marina, 500 Paine Court, Big Bear Lake, 909-866-3218.

Holloway’s Marina, 398 Edgemoor Road, Big Bear Lake, 909-866-5706.

Pleasure Point Marina, 603 Landlock Landing Road, Big Bear Lake. 909-866-2455.

North Shore Landing, 38573 North Shore Drive, Fawnskin, 909-878-4386.

Captain John’s Fawn Harbor, 39396 North Shore Drive, Fawnskin, 909-866-6478.

Pine Knot Marina, 439 Pine Knot Ave., Big Bear Lake, 909-866-7766.

• West Launch Ramp, 38925 North Shore Drive, Fawnskin, 909-866-2917.

39124 Waterview

39124 Waterview

Big Bear Lakefront Home at 39124 Waterview Closes Escrow (Sale #3 for 2014)

Situated on over a half acre of land, this Big Bear lakefront property had a wonderful setting.  Built in 1948 with 4 bedrooms and 2 baths, this had a lot of characteristics home buyers are looking for in a cabin.  It had the original knotty pine interior, a large native stone fireplace in the living room, and it had space around it (it wasn’t on top of the neighbors).  It has a 2 car garage at the street with a long sweeping driveway going down to the house, as well as a 2 car boat garage in the build up on the back side of the house.

The negatives?  It was old and in need of repair.  You walk into the kitchen which is very dated….and there’s only 1 bedroom downstairs which is off of the living room so it wasn’t very private.  That, coupled with the lower ceilings were deal breakers for a couple clients I showed the property to.  I really liked the lot size but I thought the price per square foot was on the steep side.

Information Regarding this Lakefront Home Sale

List Price: $1,200,000
Sales Price: $1,050,000
List Price to Sales Price Ratio: 88%
Days On Market: 243
Sold Price per Square Foot: $627.24
Sale Date: 2/18/2014

Photos of this Lakefront Home



Living Room

Living Room







Back of House

Back of House

Aerial View of 39124 Waterview

Google map of 39124 Waterview

Google map of 39124 Waterview


155 Lagunita Lane

155 Lagunita Lane

Big Bear Lakefront Home at 155 Lagunita Lane Closes Escrow (Sale #2 for 2014)

This was a pretty unique property.  It overlooked the center of Big Bear Lake with 110′ of lake frontage and had 2 separate units.  As I’ve written in the past, properties that are zoned R-3 (multiple units) are a little more difficult to finance.  There’s just not a lot of comparable sales along Big Bear Lake for appraisers to use…but this Big Bear lakefront property didn’t seem to have many problems selling.  It came on the market towards the end of the year over the holidays.  It was on the market for 9 days and closed escrow 47 days later.  Based on the sales price, it’s easy to assume that there was a bidding war (it was listed for $799,900 and closed escrow at $815,000).

The MLS shows this Big Bear lakefront property being 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, and 2000 square feet.  If you break it down per unit one was a 2 bedroom, 1 bath cabin; the other was a 2 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath cabin with a 2 car garage.  Great rental potential, but it was adjacent to Lagunita Lodge which is a drawback because it is a busy timeshare complex.  Overall, I thought it was a decent value (and at least 2 others thought it was a good value based on the bidding war).

Information Regarding this Lakefront Home Sale

List Price: $799,900
Sales Price: $815,000
List Price to Sales Price Ratio: 102%
Days On Market: 9
Sold Price per Square Foot: $407.50
Sale Date: 2/10/2014 

Aerial View of 155 Lagunita Lane

Google Map of 155 Lagunita Lane

Google Map of 155 Lagunita Lane




Posted by: mikewochner | February 28, 2014

Weather in the Mountains


I’ll admit, I jinxed the ski resorts this year when I purchased ski passes.  We haven’t had any snow to speak of!  But this week’s precipitation will definitely improve the lake level. So far moderate rain falling in Big Bear with just about a 1/2 inch since midnight but they say it will turn to snow later this afternoon.  Make sure to check with CalTrans before driving up….I had an appraiser who canceled an appointment this morning due to rock/mudslides around the Arctic Circle area.

211 Marina Point Drive, Big Bear Lake

211 Marina Point Drive

211 Marina Point Drive, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315

This gated Eagle Point Estates lakefront property went into escrow today….I’m not surprised.  The listing agent told me they were getting motivated and from what I understand they had 2 offers on the property.  The sellers dropped the price from $3.99mm to $3.39mm on January 11th, and then dropped the price again to $2.895mm on January 27th.  Built in 2001, it covered approximately 7,835 square feet with 5 bedrooms, and 8 baths.  Check back for closing details….

Click here to view the virtual tour on this home.


450 Edgemoor

Big Bear Lakefront Home at 450 Edgemoor Closes Escrow (Sale #1 for 2014)

I was a little surprised to see this one close escrow.  For one, there’s no water in front of it and it’s only going to get worse this Summer unless we have another Miracle March.  This lakefront home has been on and off the market since 2008…they’ve bounced around in price, from $1,195,000 to $999,900…back up to $1,125,000, down to $995,000 and the sellers went through 3 listing agents.  So the Days on Market below is deceptive.  Just a little bit of gamesmanship to make it look like a new listing by taking it off the market for more than 30 days to reset the numbers.  But I’m happy the sellers finally got it sold.

This home sits on a nice 19,000 square foot lot.  Walking distance to Holloways Marina (which makes it a busier location).  The floor plan is stacked, with steps leading up to the front door.  More of a full time home with lots of drywall and a formal dining room.  Nice vaulted ceiling in the living room.  Wall to wall carpet, except for tile in the bathrooms.  2 fireplaces, jacuzzi tubs, 2 water heaters,  and a lot of oak cabinetry.

Information Regarding this Lakefront Home Sale

List Price: $950,000
Sales Price: $905,000
List Price to Sales Price Ratio: 95%
Days On Market: 41
Sold Price per Square Foot: $346.35
Sale Date: 1/21/2014

Photos of this Lakefront Home

Living Room

Living Room




Master Bath



Aerial View of 450 Edgemoor 

Google Map of 450 Edgemoor





Posted by: mikewochner | January 31, 2014

Big Bear Gets a “Light Dusting” of Snow…..I’ll take it!

Last night Big Bear received about a half inch of snow….not enough to close down the roads, or cancel schools.  But it sure makes it feel a little more like Winter!

Posted by: mikewochner | January 23, 2014

Water Levels Low, But Not Critical (Big Bear Grizzly)

Picture taken 1/3/2014 (east side of Grout Bay)

Water Levels Low, But Not Critical

By Judi Bowers, Big Bear Grizzly

Governor Jerry Brown has issued a state of emergency. Fire officials are concerned. Water purveyors are cautious. The ski resorts are offering special deals in the middle of the season.

The drought is real.

Mike Stephenson, lake manager for the Big Bear Municipal Water District, says Bear Mountain and Snow Summit are not in jeopardy of running out of water for snowmaking this year. Although the snow covering the runs is entirely man-made, there is still plenty available by contract for the resorts, Stephenson said. The contract allows for 1,300 acre feet per year, with a maximum of 10,000 acre feet in a 10-year rolling cycle. Stephenson says the resorts haven’t used 1,000 acre feet per year in a long time.

With cold, dry Santa Ana Wind conditions, the nighttime temperatures are ideal for snowmaking. But other than that, “it’s pretty darn dry,” Stephenson says.
And that means Big Bear Lake levels are down, but not dangerously low. There are pros and cons to the lake levels. When the level is down this low, the in-lieu agreement prevents Bear Valley Mutual from taking water from Big Bear Lake, Stephenson says.

As far as the fishery, the put-and-grow species aren’t being impacted. Those are the trout. Lower levels do affect the warm water species some, Stephenson says.

The biggest impact for the MWD is recreation traffic in terms of boaters when the lake level is low, Stephenson says. Some boaters may choose to go elsewhere.
But there is a positive to the water being at this level, slightly less than 9 feet below full, he says. There are beaches and places for lake users to park and recreate. Recreation use is best around 6 feet below full, but eight feet down is average, Stephenson says.

When the lake drops to 10 or more feet below full, hazards start appearing, according to Stephenson. But the rumors that the lake is going to lose 10 feet to evaporation due to the warm weather are not true, he says.

Percentage wise, the lake is not in dire straits, Stephenson says. At full, the lake has 2,991 surface acres. Right now, the lake sits at 2,625 surface acres. If he was a water purveyor such as the Big Bear Lake Department of Water and Power or the Big Bear City Community Services District, which rely on groundwater, he might be more concerned, Stephenson says.

The DWP and CSD rely entirely on Mother Nature to fill their aquifers. Improved infrastructure since the last major drought period such as new wells, reservoirs and boosters have kept water supplies more stable, says Reggie Lamson, general manager of the DWP. More homes are equipped with low-flow shower heads and toilets. Additionally, conservation has become more of a lifestyle change.

That doesn’t mean Lamson isn’t being cautious regarding the lack of precipitation. Odd/even watering is still in effect, and the conservation message is still one that the DWP spreads, he says. With 70 percent of the DWP’s customers living off the hill, he’s hoping the governor’s declaration to conserve will be a mindset those second home owners retain when using their mountain homes. Water is a valuable commodity, Lamson says.

The DWP water use is still well below the perennial yield, Lamson says. He might become more concerned if the spring water table measurements show a significant drop, but Lamson says he would be surprised if that occurs.
He says he did see a spike in production during the Christmas holiday period. There was no snow, but there were a lot of people in the Valley, Lamson says. He says people could have watered landscaping or used water for other things not normally done in winter.

Overall, the production for the current year, from July 1 to Dec. 31, is up 1.03 percent, Lamson says. There is no need for red lights and sirens just yet, but awareness is required, Lamson says.

On the east end, the CSD’s sub-basin water levels are down. A chart showing the average for the West Baldwin Sub-Basin indicates the water level down 17.34 feet as of December 2013. The measurement is the depth to reach water.
In 2012, levels started dropping in April and May, recovering slightly by the end of December to 8.48 feet down. The level has dropped about 51 percent in the past year, 8.86 feet.

In 2009, the water levels dropped to 25.94 feet, with significant recovery in 2010 and 2011 following heavy winters. Average rainfall for January is 8.86 inches, and the CSD has recorded zero thus far.

The forecast doesn’t show any significant precipitation on the horizon, with daytime temperatures remaining in the upper 50s and low 60s for the next week. Jeff Willis, Big Bear Fire Chief, and Stephenson share the same sentiment.

They are hoping for another March Miracle like 1991 to bring winter to a moisture-starved Big Bear Valley. Last year was the first time Stephenson says he saw the lake level drop in winter, and he hopes it’s not a trend.

Posted by: mikewochner | January 10, 2014

1st Pending Lakefront Sale for 2014 in Big Bear

Lakefront Home at 39124 Waterview, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315

Lakefront Home at 39124 Waterview Goes into Escrow

The first lakefront property to go into escrow in 2014 is this rustic 1948-built, two story home sitting on over a half acre of land on the west end of town.  It became one of my favorites among the remaining inventory……with only 12 lakefront homes on the market, there’s really not much to choose from.  The inventory is thin and finding good values isn’t easy these days.  This 4 bedroom, 2 bath home was listed for $1,200,000.

Check back for closing details…


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