BY DAVE HURLEY
LAKEPORT – Clear Lake remains one of the top locations on the West Coast for bass anglers, and judging by March and April’s calendar of events, the bass won’t get a break for quite a while. Crappie are starting to move into the shallows despite the cold front moving through the region, but heavy fishing pressure continues to put a major dent in the lake’s crappie population.
A 64-boat Pro/Am was held on Saturday and Sunday, and this was a precursor to the huge Pro/Am tournaments arriving within the month with the Lake County Chamber of Commerce tournament this coming weekend, the three-day Wild West Bass Trails Pro/Am event on March 18- 20 and the Western Outdoor News California Open Pro/Am from April 13 – 15. Paul Bailey of Clear Lake continued his dominance of recent tournament action with a two-day winning weight on the pro side at 48.12 pounds. Payton Lyndall took the co-angler side at 44.72 pounds, including an 8.87-pound kicker. A total of 16 limits over 40 pounds were weighed in with an average fish weight of 3.49 pounds.
A total of 11 tournaments are scheduled at the lake over the next three weekends including American Bass Tournaments at Skylark Shores on April 2, 9, and 24.
Ross England of Clear Lake Guide Service said, “The bite has clearly improved as the water clarity is much better with the water temperatures ranging from the 51/52-degree range early in the mornings to 59.5 degrees by 4:00 p.m. Plastics, chatterbaits, underspins, and lipless crankbaits such as LV 500’s are all working, and the bite is improving in general. The latest cold front really didn’t set the bite back very much. I took my first live bait trip of the year on Wednesday, and we landed 26 bass on minnows. The bass are full weighing 4 pounds on a 3-pound frame and 6 pounds on a 4.5-pound frame. I anticipate an early spawn as the females are already loaded with eggs. The earliest spawn I can remember took place in mid-March. There will be lulls in the action, but the key is to move around until you find biting fish. The lake remains very low for this time of year at plus 0.54 on the Rumsey Scale as the little bit of precipitation did nothing to bring the lake up at all.”
For crappie, Eli Guryanov of West Sacramento was out in heavy wind on Saturday to load up on crappie in the Rattlesnake Arm. He said, “Launching at Clear Lake Oaks is no problem, but you have to get there before sun comes up or else you will have a long walk from the road. I don’t have a LiveScope as the boats with the best electronics are able to chase the schools. I am able to keep up with my 2D Sonar, and the key is to toss the lures into the small schools. The schools are averaging around 20 fish, but they will be creating larger schools as they continue to come up in the water column. The slabs have clearly come up in the past few weeks as I was finding them around 20 feet where they are in the 10-to 16-foot range now. I have been scoring with Bobby Garland’s Mr. Crappie jigs on a 1/8th-ounce head. The bite has just been phenomenal, but the boat pressure is very high with around 20 boats crowded into the Rattlesnake Arm. You definitely have to be patient with other boaters as it is crowded.”
The heavy pressure on the slabs over the past few years have led to more interest in reducing the bag limit to 10 fish with a 10-inch size limit.