I drove up to Clear Lake Sunday afternoon with my little aluminum in tow. I had decided to take a few extra days off work this week to spend prefishing for the tournament and also just to kick back and do some fun fishing.
Day one - Monday
"Kicking back" translated into not getting up to fish first light Monday morning :-) I was on the water around 8am, with the sun already starting its assault. It would get into the upper 90s that day with little to no wind. At least the algae has died off a bit compared to a month ago when Rob and I were out.
I started off up in Lakeport, running some shoreline with feeding grebes. There were a lot of fish over here last year, and they were crushing 10 inch triple trout at the time. I started off with a Sizmic toad and Gann Craft 230. In the first 15 minutes I had a 5-6 lb fish come off a dock and t-bone the swimbait, but it popped off after a few seconds. Typical.
This seemed encouraging but I ran the same pattern for the next hour with no more action. I did get a few random blowups on a large black double buzzbait around one of the Rocky Points. Interesting, but didn't lead to anything.
Headed into Rodman next and spent the next half of the day testing different patterns in there. Around noon I found a small pack of fish that were happy to eat a brush hog. Maybe 8 bites. First one was 5lbs or so, the others seemed smaller, though I intentionally didn't set the hook on most. I couldn't get bit outside that one small area, but nice to find a real collection of fish.
In the afternoon I headed back to the casino and spent the rest of the day running around between there and state park. It was real flat calm and hot out. Gross. Missed a fish on a frog right away and bit a brush hog on the followup. Nice 4+ lb fish.
The rest of the afternoon was brutal tough. There is a lot less bait (silverside) in this area of the lake than last year. Some of those coves last year were solid bait. Top-to-bottom for miles. This year it seems to be in smaller isolated schools. The number of bass around it has decreased in proportion. Anyway, I fished a lot of dead water and only found a few decent spots. One of those kicked out a 4.5 type fish on a S-Waver.
At sunset I decided to burn some water with the black double buzz at the casino. Good move, they were crushing it. Caught 4 smallish, 3-4 lb, fish on the buzz in about 20 minutes. Tons of fun :-) The last fish broke the bait, so I called it a day.
Day two - Tuesday
I got up early the next day with the idea of heading down to mid lake first thing to look for working fish. On the way down I was distracted by some wheeling birds near state park and I couldn't resist stopping. I ran through the area with a S-Waver for just one bite... a big bite which broke me off on 20lb p-line CXX. I would have liked to see that fish. But just one bite? Didn't seem right.
I finally made it down to mid lake. Looked at Kono Tayee. Terrible this year it seems. Then ran massive amounts of water down into the Redbud arm. All bad. Really.
Headed back and looked around mid lake again. Going around the usually-hopeless Anderson I picked up a nice one on the S-Waver using the top-secret "cast at the busting fish" method. Fish should have been 6+ lbs, but probably about 4.5. Real skinny.
Headed in early, took a break, then went back out at sunset for some night fishing! Night fishing at Clear Lake. It alwasy seems like a great idea :-) Tuesday, not so much. I started in Lucerne, caught one on a buzzbait. I was too distracted by the 2 grillion bugs crawling on every inch of the boat to notice I caught something, though. Ran the lake from state park to the casino over the next 4 hours. It was bad fishing. Broke one off on a chatterbait, missed a couple buzzbait blowups. Snagged a metric ton of weeds. That about sums up clear lake night fishing :-/ Headed in around 1am.
Day three - Wednesday
Slept in Wednesday, see above, and was on the water around 9am. Incidentally, 9am is when all fish at Clear Lake decide to stop biting. When it's sunny, hot, calm and 9am to noon, you're in trouble.
Anyway. The previous day I tried the Redbud arm. Wednesday I tried the Rattlesnake arm. Different arm, same results. Lots of smelly algae. There's a lot of bait around Rattlesnake island itself, but the fishing didn't seem amazing. I hit a few rockpiles but left fairly quick. It just felt gross all around. I never got bit Wednesday morning.
To start off the afternoon I went back to the Kelseyville/Lakeport area and started digging into the sloughs looking for flip fish. Lost a 3lber flipping a D-Bomb in one slough. Saw a couple nice ones swimming around in another. But didn't find anything great for the tournament. I did have an amazing time trying, and succeeding, to get my boat into the slough just to the right of state park entrance. Knarly shallow water right now.
I was back in that slough that afternoon watching it getting windier and cloudier every minute. Trying to get out of a slough with a 8 inch deep rocky entrance in 2 foot waves seemed like a really bad combination, so I got out of there as fast as I could.
The weather was getting weird and stormy, almost like it was going to start raining. I didn't want to stray too far from the casino, so I headed back to the area I caught that swimbait fish on Tuesday afternoon. It was probably the best area I had found Tuesday afternoon between the casino and state park, and sadly it seemed like every other boat found those fish as well. A revolving door with only a dozen boats on the whole lake.
I went back to the same spot I got bit, and started messing with different baits trying to find some way to force them to bite. The fish in this part of the lake are surprisingly smart. I still have no clue how people catch flip fish out of the main lake right now. I've spent a lot of time flipping main lake weed beds and flipping main lake tule banks, with pretty much zilch in return. Complete mystery.
Anyhow, towards the evening the weird, stormy weather actually turned into real rain for about 5 minutes. Apparently this is what the fish were waiting for, because they bit pretty good for that last hour of the day. I had about 5 bites each on Sizmic toad and S-Waver. Nothing big, all 2-4 pounds. But a lot of fun to get the chance to tear into a feeding school on a spot you know will be worthless in the tournament. Especially on topwater and swimbaits :-)
Day four - Thursday
Got up early Thursday and headed over to Lucern and Nice first thing. It's one of the only areas on the lake I hadn't prefished up to that point.
Both areas are fairly mellow. Most of the bait from last year is gone. I burned down several shorline areas where I saw grebes working, throwing a white double buzzbait. This produced 4 bites from two spots. One in Lucerne and one in Nice. In both cases the bites came within a couple casts of each other. So there are probably small concentrations of fish in those two areas. But the fish were only 2-3 pounds, and 2 of those size fish doesn't get you anywhere in a tournament.
Next I went back into Rodman and tried to put something else together by exploring the back sloughs and burning the double buzzbait in the main channel. Zilch.
I headed down to mid lake next. I was starting to think that there wasn't much other than 3-4 pounders up north, and needed to find larger fish. I spent a long time throwing huddleston around Anderson and some of the shorelines which had hitch activity last year. Nothing doing. There is a decent amount of silverside in that area, but I don't know where the hitch are right now. Sidescan was inconclusive on the bait balls.
By about 1 pm the wind kicked in big time and started sloshing the water around. I switched to the S-Waver again and out of the blue fish started biting. First a fish probably close to 6 lbs, then a 4 lber. Mid lake swimbait fish. The right size. Now we're getting somewhere.
I almost fell out of the boat unhooking the last fish, which in my 17 ft aluminum is a sign it's time to run back in the direction of home base. I needed one more fish, though, so I stopped off at the community hole on the way in. And... bam, 3 pounder right away on the S-Waver. Shame they're so small. There's an easy limit living in that weedbed.
Day five - Friday
Rob's heading up as I write. Big boat tomorrow. Tournament Saturday!
I have about 10 minutes of video from these days so far. This is the first time I've used this particular camera, though, and I'm very quickly learning every mistake you can do. Didn't have battery life for all the late evening madness, apparently didn't turn the camera on for todays swimbait fishing, accidentally deleted a great swimbait clip, etc. But I'll be posting it soon.