UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - James River

Stone cold monsters

Stone cold monsters
Jared Stone of Lakeport, Calif. (right) caught the heaviest limit of the week Friday - 31 pounds, 15 ounces - and leads the Stren Series Western Division event at Clear Lake after three days with a total of 80-15. It is Stone's limit that now ranks 15th as the all-time heaviest in FLW Outdoors history, topping Michael Tuck and Sean Stafford from the first two days at Clear Lake.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. - On the heels of two already historic days of tournament fishing, Friday's Stren Series Western Division competition at Clear Lake will go down as the most historic ever. This unbelievable fishery coughed up more than 6,100 pounds of bass, proving once and for all that there is no place like Clear Lake.

There really aren't enough words to describe what happened at Clear Lake Friday, but here goes.

For starters, Jared Stone, a local pro out of Lakeport, Calif., caught the heaviest five-bass limit of the tournament - 31 pounds, 15 ounces - and rocketed into the lead with an unheard-of three-day total weight of 80-15. That's right: 80-15.

The top-10 pro cut weight after three days settled at almost 65 pounds, and the co-angler - co-angler - cut weight came in at more than 52 pounds. And get this: Pros with as much as 53 pounds of fish didn't even cash a check. For the co-anglers, the money stopped at just below 44 1/2 pounds.

Only two pros failed to catch a full limit, making it 187 out of 189. The co-anglers caught 178.

There were so many limits over 20 pounds - from both ends of the boat - that anything less than 25 pounds barely got noticed.

All of this, of course, led to what has now become the heaviest single day of tournament fishing in FLW Outdoors history. Combined, the tournament field weighed in exactly 6,149 pounds of Clear Lake bass, which absolutely annihilated the eye-popping mark of 5,456 pounds that they set the day before.

And here's the kicker: This tournament isn't even done yet; there's still another day of fishing left. However, in just three days, competitors in the 2007 Clear Lake Stren have caught a total of 16,822 pounds of bass, absolutely crushing the previous total tournament weight record of 13,767 pounds set at the California Delta FLW Series event in four days last month.

Jared StoneStone sticks to the big guns

It goes without saying that the bounty of Clear Lake on Friday came thanks to the weather and, consequently, the advent of the spawn. The lake was slick and sunny throughout the morning, and at this time of April, that caused a mass migration of big females moving up toward the bank.

However, the pro leader, Stone, claimed that he wasn't sight-fishing Friday.

"I'm fishing the shady side of docks, pretty much fishing around the whole lake," he said. "The sun's definitely responsible (for the big weights Friday) because they're moving up right now to spawn. But it was actually better about four days ago when I was getting 30 to 50 pounds a day."

Stone's stringer Friday - which now ranks 15th as one of the all-time heaviest limits caught in FLW Outdoors history, upending the efforts of Michael Tuck and Sean Stafford the first two days - contained no record-size fish, but was filled out nicely with 4- to 7-pound largemouths. He said that he caught most of his fish in water 8 to 10 feet deep and that he caught no bass weighing less than 2 1/2 pounds. He also was still reluctant to divulge his bait of choice, saying only that it's a "reaction bait," but admitted that it's no secret to anyone familiar with big, reaction-bait fishing on the West Coast.

"Like I said yesterday, I'm fishing for big bites only. Every day I've been getting fewer and fewer bites," Stone said. "I was having a tough day early on; this morning was supertough. I didn't have a limit until 10 or 11 o'clock, and then I didn't get my big fish until about 2. I only had 12 bites today, so it's tougher than it looks. I mean, I may blank tomorrow."

Barring an errant lightning strike, Stone won't blank Saturday. He's one of three locals to make the cut this week, so he knows what he's talking about when he reflects on what he's seen at Clear Lake so far and what he expects for the finals.

"This is the best I've ever seen it. It's always good, but not this good. It's just such a healthy lake. There's a ton of shad and forage for the fish, and we've had a good spawn the last few years," he said. "Every day, I've been shooting for 25 pounds. I don't think that will win it, but that's my goal."

If Stone catches 25 pounds, or just a little more, tomorrow, he will take over the record for heaviest four-day weight ever caught, not to mention the tournament title, which is the ultimate goal, after all. As it is, he has an almost 7-pound lead on everyone else, and he feels this lake has even more in store for fishing fans in the finals.

"At the BASS event here (earlier this month), I weighed in almost 40 pounds," he said. "I was throwing back 6-pounders that day."

Brian Nollar of Homer, Alaska, climbed to second place for the pros with a three-day weight of 74 pounds, 2 ounces. Nollar popped a 28-pound, 15-ounce stringer Friday, including a 9-10 kicker largemouth.Nollar snags a 9-10, takes second

Also capitalizing on the calmer conditions but eschewing the sight fish was Brian Nollar of Homer, Alaska, who climbed to second place for the pros with a three-day weight of 74 pounds, 2 ounces.

Nollar popped a 28-pound, 15-ounce stringer Friday, including a 9-10 kicker largemouth.

"I was fishing Rattlesnake Island. All around it there are rock piles that come out of 35 feet of water and some long reefs," he said. "They were basically the same areas that I fished yesterday, and I was throwing the same worms: Candy Bug-colored Zoom Trick Worms on an 8-ounce shaky head. I actually went down from a 3/16-ounce jig yesterday to the 1/8-ounce today because the wind lightened up. I wasn't fishing bed fish, though. I can't see them because of the algae bloom. I did have to move up a little bit today for them, but I moved back out to catch my two biggest fish."

Brian Nollar grew up bass fishing with his dad, veteran Dave Nollar, in southern California, but now he's a halibut guide in Alaska. Even though he's accustomed to hefting 100-pound tires off the sea bed, he's still in awe of Clear Lake.

"It's unreal, one heckuva fishery," Nollar said, "especially when you come from a state that doesn't have bass."

Pro Jason Borofka of Salinas, Calif., dropped a notch into third place after catching a 22-pound, 3-ounce limit Friday.Borofka also `struggles,' takes third

Pro Jason Borofka of Salinas, Calif., dropped a notch into third place after catching a 22-pound, 3-ounce limit Friday. His three-day total was 72-8.

"I struggled this morning; I didn't have a decent fish until 11:30," he said. "I just had to put everything away, break out the swimbaits and go to work."

Borofka, who hadn't been catching much on a swimbait until today, said the multitude of options and fishing locations he had the first two days narrowed today when his finesse bite quit working.

"I had a lot of water, but I couldn't get anything going," he said. "But I was happy that I finally got the swimbait going. I caught about 20 fish, which was slow. I've been getting at least 40 or 50 fish a day."

Pro Michael Tuck of Antelope, Calif., held on to make the cut in fourth place with a three-day weight of 68-11.Tuck off too, but still claims fourth

Supported mainly by the 31-pound, 11-ounce stringer he caught Thursday, pro Michael Tuck of Antelope, Calif., held on to make the cut in fourth place with a three-day weight of 68-11. He caught 20-9 Friday.

"I got messed up until about 10:30 or so," he said. "I saw some fish, but I just couldn't get them to go."

Tuck, who currently leads the Western Division points standings, is a notorious sight-fisherman. He, maybe more than anybody, is benefiting from the bluebird skies the past couple days. He said he saw one bedding bass that weighed some 15 pounds Friday - and it's high on his target list for Saturday.

"If they're not 7 pounds, I'm not stopping," he said. "I'm going for 40 (pounds) tomorrow. I have to. Look at what (Stone) did today."

Jim Davis of San Jose, Calif., took fifth for the pros after catching a 24-pound, 3-ounce limit Friday and amassing a three-day total of 68-9.Davis fifth

Another standings leader, Jim Davis of San Jose, Calif., took fifth for the pros after catching a 24-pound, 3-ounce limit Friday and amassing a three-day total of 68-9.

"I'm catching them mostly on swimbaits," he said. "If they don't eat the bait, then I back off and throw weightless worms or something."

Don Connole of Helena, Mont., won the Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division with this largemouth that weighed in at 10 pounds, 10 ounces.Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros to make the cut after three days at Clear Lake:

6th: Wayne Breazeale of Kelseyville, Calif., 66-14
7th: Gino Campiotti of Manteca, Calif., 66-9 (day-two leader)
8th: Jeff Billings of Clearlake, Calif., 66-8
9th: Cody Meyer of Grass Valley, Calif., 66-0
10th: Roy Hawk of Salt Lake City, 64-15

Don Connole of Helena, Mont., earned $285 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division, a largemouth that weighed in at a mere 10 pounds, 10 ounces. It was the heaviest big bass in the Pro Division all week.

Co-angler Kyle Clement of Anderson, Calif., busted yet another 21-pound-plus sack Friday and maintained his lead with a three-day weight of 63 pounds, 1 ounce.Clement stuns Co-angler Division

As big a lead as Stone took in the Pro Division, Kyle Clement really made his mark in the Co-angler Division. The big stick from Anderson, Calif., busted yet another 21-pound-plus sack Friday and maintained his lead with a three-day weight of 63 pounds, 1 ounce.

He didn't just maintain it; he put an exclamation point on it. By catching 21 pounds, 8 ounces Friday, Clement now leads everyone else by over 7 1/2 pounds.

That might seem an attainable gap to breach at this big-fish venue, except for the fact that Clement already won this event two years ago.

"I started off throwing the swimbait, and on the second cast, I caught that 8-pounder (his kicker weighed 8-1)," he said. "That took the pressure off, but after that I couldn't get bit on it. So I fished a drop-shot the rest of the day. I probably caught 30 or 40 fish. My thumbs are torn up."

Rest of the best

Gary Haraguchi of Brentwood, Calif., took second place for the co-anglers with a three-day total of 55 pounds, 8 ounces. He caught 21-10 Friday.

Co-angler Bruce McCune of Anderson, Calif., made the cut in third place with a total weight of 55 pounds, 2 ounces. He caught a hefty 23-14 Friday, the heaviest limit from the back of the boat.

Steve Ericksen of San Jose, Calif., took fourth place for the co-anglers with a three-day weight of 54 pounds, 13 ounces. His weight Friday was 22-12.

Andy Scholz of Reno, Nev., rounded out the top five co-anglers with a three-day weight of 54 pounds, 11 ounces. He caught 15-15 Friday.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers:

6th: Tracy Phillips of Frankfort, Ky., 53-7
7th: Zachary Holwerda of Cave Creek, Calif., 52-15
8th: Taylor Parsons of Sutter Creek, Calif., 52-15
9th: Roy Desmangles Jr. of Lincoln, Calif., 52-12
10th: J.R. Wright of Truckee, Calif., 52-10

Brian Carnahan of Flagstaff, Ariz., earned $144 for the Snickers Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division thanks to an 8-pound, 11-ounce largemouth.

Final round Saturday

Day four of Western Division competition at Clear Lake begins as the final-round field of 10 boats takes off from Redbud Park in Clearlake, Calif., at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time Saturday. Each division's winner will be determined by four-day combined weight.

Tags: jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2007-04-25-clear-lake 

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