La Paloma Park Becomes a Temporary Home for Stray Fish

Isaac Torres (seated), Humberto Lemus and 5-year-old Jason Urzua had fun fishing in flooded area...

Isaac Torres (seated), Humberto Lemus and 5-year-old Jason Urzua had fun fishing in flooded areas of La Paloma Park Monday afternoon. The entire area where you see water is usually just a grass field.
Flood waters have receded from most areas in Menifee following a three-day weekend storm, but mother nature hasn't restored everything back to normal. Take La Paloma Park, for instance.

The 5-acre park, located at Menifee Road and Bayport Lane, is a flat, grassy area with playground equipment, picnic tables and shade trees. To the west lies Menifee Lake; to the east, on the other side of Menifee Road, lies another body of water that makes up part of the Tres Lagos gated lakeside community.

But today, after the heavy rains, virtually the entire park is flooded. In fact, Menifee Lake has overflowed all the way through the park, under the Menifee Road bridge and into Tres Lagos (see map). What does that mean? New territory for the fish to explore.

Menifee residents Isaac Torres and Humberto Lemus were among a few adventurous locals who picked up on the idea today and sloshed into the flood waters with nets, in search of fish. With their companion, 5-year-old Jason Urzua, they caught a foot-long catfish and an 18-inch carp in just the few minutes a reporter was watching them.

Trapped by a fence that allowed only water to flow through to the other lake, the fish seemed lost. Fortunately, the fishermen were more than happy to pick them up in nets and release the fish back into Menifee Lake.

"It's not that hard to find them," said Lemus, standing in water that in some places was three feet deep. "You just look for the bubbles."

According to homeowner association rules in both the Menifee Lakes and Tres Lagos communities, fishing is allowed only for residents. But technically, these folks weren't fishing in the lake or within the private communities -- they were fishing on top of a public park.

Jason will have quite a story to tell his buddies when he gets home.