The family and I just stopped for the night at a campground off of Interstate 80 in Nevada. We drove past beautiful Lake Tahoe, and Bobbi had to talk me into not stopping to do a little skiing. When we left California, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad. Both the Delta and Clear Lake are such amazing fisheries, and I feel like the timing wasn’t quite right to really hit them good. I would love to go back to Clear lake in the summer, and get on some of that awesome frog action I heard so much about. While we’re all sad to leave California, my wallet is pretty happy to be heading home for a bit. I probably spent $500 on those fancy California swim baits that we all hear so much about!
Well, here’s how my Clear Lake practice went:
Practice was tougher than expected. The weather forecast called for really nice weather, which meant sunny, warm, bluebird conditions. While the days were warm and pleasant, at night time the temperatures would drop back down to the low 30s. So, any water temperature gain during the day was lost at night. This made it difficult, because everyday we had to start all over again. The water would temperatures would start out in the low 50s each day, and by the afternoon hit the upper 50s. This had the fishing moving shallower and shallower in the afternoon, but when it cooled back off in the evenings the fish would vacate the shallows.
My first practice day was my best. I caught fish flipping, and caught one key 4 lb. fish cranking a Wiggle Wart. I was also able to put together a drop shot pattern, but mainly just caught keepers on it. The rest of my practice was spent searching water, and finding areas similar to the ones that produced for me on the first day.
Day one of the tournament:
My expectations weren’t very high going into the tournament, but I caught a break and was boat #3 to take off. This gave me the opportunity to fish a local hole before many others got to it. I fished a drop shot in this area, and after 2 hours and only 1 keeper I had to abandon that area. At about 9:30 I ran up to the bank where I caught my fish on a Wiggle Wart in practice. After my first pass down the bank I had caught 17 lbs. From there I ran on to another spot and caught a 5 lber flipping, and a couple more fish on the Wiggle Wart. With 20 minutes left in the day I caught one more 5 lber flipping a UV Beaver in some tules. I was quite pleased with my day, but I really estimated the weights that the other anglers would bring in.
Right off the bat I ran down to my Wiggle Wart spot. I really anticipated the bite to be better there because that day there was some wind and clouds. Unfortunately the wind blew in a giant mat of floating dead tules right over the area I had been catching them on my Wiggle Wart. I couldn’t make a cast without catching a dang tule! So, I headed out of there and ran back to my flipping spot, and caught a 3 lber. Ran on down to my drop shot area. I got there at about noon, and only had one fish. There were 2 other pros in this area fishing, and they were both catching and culling fish. I started to feel a little frustrated. I ended up catching 3 keepers on the drop shot, and left at 1:30 for my Wiggle Wart spot. I caught a 3, a 4, and one that culled one of the small drop shot fish. I felt fortunate to make the day 3 cut, but I also felt optimistic as I was in 23rd place and only out of the top 12 by about 3 pounds.
I felt that I had nothing to lose and nothing to gain. Alton clued me into a spot that had really produced for him, so that is where I went to start my day. I threw a big swim bait, and after about 20 minutes, it was fish on! The strike was good, the fight was good, and as I got the fish boat side I discovered that it was only a 3 lber! Only fish I caught on that swim bait. After I caught that fish, I ran to my tules and was able to catch a 3 ½ lber, and then ran on to my Wiggle Wart spot. I caught a 2 ½ lber pretty quick, but really had to work hard for another bite. I finally caught another fish on the Wiggle Wart, and it went about 4 lbs. I bailed on that spot at about 1:30, and ran back to the spot I started my day on. When I pulled in on it, there were 8 locals fishing. I watched them catch a few fish, and then they gave way so that I could have a shot at it. I pulled out my flipping stick and went to work on some dead matted tules. I caught a 3 and a 4, which gave me the chance to cull. I kind of scrambled the rest of the day, and couldn’t come up with anything else. There was a lot of boat traffic on the lake on Saturday, and I think it really kept the fish from feeling comfortable in the shallows.
I finished 27th in the tournament, but given the practice that I had, I feel very fortunate. This tournament kind of helped ease the pain of my Delta tournament, and it moved me up into 44th in AOY standings. Now, we are headed back to Lake Quivira for some time off. This long drive will give me an opportunity to refocus for the Smith Mountain tournament in April. Until then, I will get to spend some time at home, and get some time in on Lake Quivira!