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Clear Lake smorgasbord

Clear Lake smorgasbord
Mount Konocti looms over a glassy Clear Lake as EverStart Western Division anglers prepare for the day-one takeoff.

CLEAR LAKE, Calif. - A blind bass could swim with his mouth open and fill his belly on Clear Lake. Indeed, with voluminous schools of shad, hitch and silversides offering easy food sources, EverStart Series Western Division anglers might feel like they're selling hamburgers outside a buffet, but well-crafted strategies and well-placed baits will deliver impressive weights for today's weigh-ins.

Dock talk told of incredible practice catches, with some anglers reporting limit catches in the upper 20's and whispers of the elusive 30-pound bag have held enough credibility to keep the chatter fresh. Of course, everyone's aware of the disparity that often exists between practice and tournament realities. But this is Clear Lake and there's no question that such quality swims here every day of the week.

That being said, the path to a stellar bag will be no cake walk. Sure, Clear Lake has plenty of productive habitat throughout its shallow northern end and deeper southern reaches. There's even a handful of slam dunk honey holes. However, if you think any of the sweet spots will see anything less than a thorough scrubbing by multiple boats, well, the Bigfoot Trail Tracker Club will be meeting shortlyAnglers set out for theif first round of Clear Lake competition. after today's weigh-ins. In truth, finding fish isn't the biggest challenge - it's getting to what you found in practice.

Local pro Paul Bailey said he had no trouble locating big groups of bass during practice, however, he knows he cannot count on simply rolling up to any of them at will. Therefore, Bailey worked on developing something he could replicate in multiple scenarios.

"These fish are really schooling up good," he said. "There are probably 20 big schools throughout the lake with really active fish. I don't know how many of those schools I'm going to be able to get to throughout the day. There are going to be five or six boats on each spot.

"It's going to be hard with over 100 boats in this tournament, so I tried to (identify) a pattern. It's really hard to win a 3-day tournament off a school of bass, or even two schools of bass. I figured I can go hit a couple of schools today and then use the pattern for the next two days and hope that pans out."

Cody Meyer, who recently finished seventh at the Forrest Wood Cup, agrees that Clear Lake will California pro Cody Meyer expects to try a variety of shallow and deep presentations today.challenge many and reward a few.

"There are a lot of big fish out there right now - a lot of 4- and 5-pounders swimming around," Meyer said. "They're just not really easy to catch. Once you find them, it seems like you can catch a couple of those fish, but it's not as easy as (many) are saying."

Meyer spent his practice looking at a mix of deep water spots in the south end, as well as some shallow topwater and flipping patterns. Reports have indicated that the latter produced massive catches in the shallow grass, so Meyer expects give a heavily weighted Beaver a good look today.

Bailey said he expects a variety of tactics to produce well. "This is a huge swimbait lake. The (baitfish) are all coming up, so reaction baits are going to be huge. Also, the guys who know how to slow down and use the plastics are going to do well because once the sun comes up, the reaction bite slows down and those plastics guys are going to be able to get them."Flipping and punching plastic baits into grass and weeds may be one of the top patterns on clear lake.

Now, we can't talk about the premier Golden State fishery without mentioning the go-to western rig - the dropshot. It's not for everyone, and it's not for every scenario. However, from shallow tule edges to rocks in 30-plus feet, this tried-and-true finesse rig will certainly see plenty of action today.

Subtle, slender baits like Roboworms and Zoom Finesse Worms often get the call, but California pro Matt Newman has a different strategy - he beefs up his dropshot by rigging it with creature baits or craws. One of his favorites is a 3-inch Wave Craw.
Slender worms, he said, can be hard for bass to spot when fished around tules, whereas the larger, more detailed profile of a craw stands out better.

Anglers donned sweatshirts and foul weather gear for the chilly takeoff and the days cooler period, which probably lasted another 45 minutes or so. Yep, Clear Lake sees overnight temperatures plunging into 50's, but it does not take long for the heat to resume. The American flag hung completely limp at the check-out boat and it's unlikely to see much change. Hot, still, sweltering - these are the terms that'll aptly describe Clear Lake. Then again, you don't seem to mind too much when you're Matt Newman likes to beef up his dropshot with a 3-inch Wave Craw.sticking big NorCal largemouth.

Logistics

Anglers will take off from Redbud Park located at 14655 Lakeshore Drive in Clearlake, Calif., at 7 each morning. Weigh-ins will also be held at the marina beginning at 2:30 p.m. on Thur. and Fri. and 4 p.m. on Sat. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Pros will fish for a top award of $35,000 plus a 198VX Ranger boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers will cast for a top award consisting of a Ranger 177TR with 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met.

The EverStart Series consists of five divisions - Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of four tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the Strike King Angler of the Year title along with $5,000 for the pro and $2,000 for the co-angler. The top 40 pros and co-anglers from each respective division will qualify for the EverStart Series Championship that will be held on Kentucky Lake in Buchanan, Tenn., Oct. 27-30.

The EverStart Series tournament on Clear Lake is being hosted by Twin Pine Casino & Hotel.The American flag hung perfectly still during the morning

Thursday's conditions:

Sunrise: 6:58 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 60 degrees
Expected high temperature: 93 degrees
Wind: East 3-6 mph
Humidity: 25 percent
Day's outlook: Sunny

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2011-09-22-clear-lake 

Top 10 Baits from Clear Lake

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Huntze Closes Door for Co-angler W

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Grover Grabs Clear Lake Title

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Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 2

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Top 5 Patterns from Clear Lake Day 1

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Olson Out in Front at Clear Lake

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Co-angler Bickers Wins by Ounces

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