UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Clear Lake

Big Bags Coming on Rainy Clear Lake

Big Bags Coming on Rainy Clear Lake

One of the gems of California bass fishing might have its luster muted by the week’s weather, but Clear Lake will likely still provide plenty of opportunity for anglers competing in this week’s Costa FLW Series Western Division event, which is presented by Ranger Boats and hosted by Konocti Vista Casino Resort & Marina. 

 

About the fishery

Topographically, Clear Lake seems to comprise two very different water bodies, linked by a tapered central section known as the Narrows. The shallow, bowl-like upper end holds a greater presence of vegetation such as tules, pads, bank grass and various brush, while the deeper lower end presents more of a rocky complexion with islands, riprap and docks spread across its two major arms, Red Bud and Rattlesnake. 

Set amid the mountainous grandeur of California’s wine country, Clear Lake is situated below a dormant volcano known as Mount Konocti, which dominates the mid-lake region’s landscape.

With 68 square miles of surface area, Clear Lake boasts the title of largest natural lake located wholly within California. It’s also known as the oldest natural lake in North America, with several natural inflows, including Rodman Slough at the upper end. Cache Creek in the back of Red Bud is the major outflow.

While most lakes are measured by elevation above sea level, Clear Lake’s water height is measured by the Rumsey Gauge. A 7.56 feet reading means Clear Lake is full. This week, with big spring rains and snowmelt sending heavy flows, it’s been around 7.45.

 

Current conditions

Several weeks of warm, stable weather had Clear Lake showing off exactly why folks make the drive. However, a big storm system that blew across the area Wednesday brought significant rain and knocked daytime air temperatures back from the mid-70s and 80s into the low 50s.

“That was really a nail in the tire for what has been going on,” says Utah pro Sunny Hawk. “I don’t think this is going to hinder the fishing, but I think the weights might be down a little bit because you don’t see the 8- to 10-pounders on the beds. I think those fish are still going to be catchable. You just won’t see as many.”

Hawk believes that’s because the storm exacerbated an issue already in play: reduced water clarity. 

“I know there are a lot of fish on beds, but I have been having a tough time seeing them,” he says. “In past years, I’ve found them in 6 to 7 feet when you could barely see the bottom. Now, I can’t see that deep because the water is stained.

“So you might actually be bypassing them and you don’t even know it. Crashing through the tules, you might be going right over their heads.”

Noting that he expects Clear Lake to present opportunities to catch fish in all three stages of the spawn, Hawk says the current level is the highest he’s seen in several years.

“This is really good because it creates a lot of cover for baitfish and the bass,” he adds. 

 

Tactics in play

It’s likely that the cold front will push some of the spawners out of the shallows and put those approaching on standby. That said, anglers should stay plenty busy with prespawn and postspawn bass.

Hawk thinks the shallow flipping bite should remain steady throughout the event. Anglers might find occasional sight-fishing opportunities, and with windy conditions on tap, a variety of reaction baits – bladed jigs, spinnerbaits, shallow crankbaits and swimbaits – should fare well.

“Guys are going to catch them out deep too, on drop-shots and jigs and probably some swimbaits,” says Western stick Tim Klinger, who won the division’s opener at Lake Mead in February. “I think there are a lot of postspawn fish out deep, because during practice, I had seen a lot of fry.”

 

Critical factors

The Florida angle – Clear Lake owes its legendary reputation for giant bass to the stocking of Florida-strain largemouths. But this is a two-edged sword, as the fish grow big, but they retain a frustrating trait common to their Sunshine State kin – they don’t handle change well. Cold fronts, in particular, typically send these fish into full-on pouty face mode. While this week’s front is relatively mild, in terms of temperature decline, anglers might find those “Floridas” in a less-than-eager mood – at least, in the early goings. 

Grass – For the past couple of years, Clear Lake anglers have lamented the lack of grass, after local authorities applied herbicides to kill the hydrilla. Hawk says there’s still nowhere near the volume of grass the lake once had, but he’s found isolated patches where it’s trying to come back.

Kickers – “The key is going to be catching a 7- to 8-pounder every day,” Klinger says. “In my opinion, the guy that wins the tournament is going to have a 6- to 10-pounder every day.”

 

Dock talk 

Hawk says he had a solid practice, but couldn’t manage anything over 5 pounds. He’s not using that as a benchmark, because regardless of the weather woes, this is still Clear Lake. 

“The winning total is hard to guess, because someone could blow it out of the park with a huge bag,” Hawk says. “But I think 20 to 30 pounds will make the top 10.”

Klinger says he was catching good ones right through Wednesday’s practice. He’s hopeful the cold front won’t have a profound impact and Clear Lake has the chance to flex is muscles.

“The whole lake’s fishing really good, from one end to the other,” Klinger says. “As long as the water temperature doesn’t drop much, I think the guys are going to smash ’em.”

He estimates that an angler who catches 18 to 20 pounds a day will position himself well for the victory.

 

Tournament details

Dates: May 16-18, 2018

Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner in each category determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 6:30 a.m. PT

Takeoff Location: Konocti Vista Casino Resort & Marina, 2755 Mission Rancheria Road, Lakeport, CA

Weigh-In Time: 2:30 p.m. PT

Weigh-In Location: Konocti Vista Casino Resort & Marina 

Complete details

Tags: clear-lake  largemouth  spawn  prespawn  david-a-brown  morning-story  2019-05-16-clear-lake 

Plains Division Kicks Off on Dardanelle

Plains Division Kicks Off on Dardanelle

All the major bass tournaments Lake Dardanelle has hosted since 2004 have followed different scripts, and the Toyota Series Plains Division event that kicks off today will be no different. With a schedule full of changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first event of the Plains Division season, and it’s the last division to kick off in 2020. READ MORE »

High Water on Tap for College Open

High Water on Tap for College Open

By mid-September, Kentucky Lake can be absolutely lights-out when you find a big school up on its many shallow bars. This week, during the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open, that’s probably not going to be the case – instead of locking a topwater in their hands, college teams are likely to take a much more varied approach. READ MORE »

Toyota Series to Host Event on Clear Lake

Toyota Series to Host Event on Clear Lake

CLEARLAKE, Calif. – The 2020 Toyota Series Western Division will finish out their season with a tournament next week in Clearlake, California, Sept. 24-26, with the Toyota Series at Clear Lake. The three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a... READ MORE »

Southwestern Division Hits Fort Gibson

Southwestern Division Hits Fort Gibson

The Toyota Series Southwestern Division rolls on with the Toyota Series at Fort Gibson Lake. Hosted by the Wagoner Area Chamber of Commerce, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

Southeastern Div. Wraps on Neely Henry

Southeastern Div. Wraps on Neely Henry

The Toyota Series Southeastern Division is wrapping its 2020 season with the third and final stop at Neely Henry Lake out of Gadsden, Ala., this week. While Neely Henry is often a perennial stop on Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine schedules, this is the first time the Toyota Series has visited the winding reservoir along the Coosa River in northeast Alabama. READ MORE »

Curveballs Ahead for Cal Delta Field

Curveballs Ahead for Cal Delta Field

The California Delta is a frequent stop for anglers in the Toyota Series Western Division. The storied fishery has hosted countless FLW tournaments over the years, but this year is different, as the event was rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of the traditional May or late-September dates for the stop, the rescheduled date is this week, right in the middle of August. The new time of year will surely make things different than previous years. READ MORE »

Another Erie Battle Begins

Another Erie Battle Begins

The Toyota Series Northern Division is going out of Sandusky Bay on Lake Erie once again. This week’s event takes place on August 18-20, and it is the second stop of the Northern Division. Like the last event out of Sandusky, Erie is in play, as well as the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair, with all Canadian waters being off-limits to fishing. READ MORE »

Dog days at Wheeler Lake

Dog days at Wheeler Lake

The second event of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division is off and running this morning on Wheeler Lake out of Ingalls Harbor. Many pros fishing the Southeastern Division this season agree that Wheeler will be the most challenging of the three events in 2020 due to the timing of the tournament. READ MORE »

Ready to Rock on Erie

Ready to Rock on Erie

The Toyota Series Northern Division has undergone more than its share of schedule shuffling this year, but the kickoff is finally here. Taking off out of Sandusky, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie, the time to chase smallmouths has arrived. READ MORE »

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Swiftly rescheduled due to New York’s recently announced travel restrictions, the Toyota Series Northern Division is now kicking off on Lake Erie, launching out of Sandusky, Ohio, July 9-11. The event is the first of three in the division, with the others scheduled for August on Lake Champlain and on the Detroit River in September. READ MORE »

Eufaula Slugfest Kicks Off

Eufaula Slugfest Kicks Off

For the second week in a row, FLW’s Toyota Series is visiting one of Alabama’s premier bass fisheries at the perfect time of year for pros to hammer on big bags of postspawn largemouths. READ MORE »

Let the Ledge-fest Begin

Let the Ledge-fest Begin

With the start of the Toyota Series Central Division event on Pickwick Lake this morning, today marks the first day back to competition in the world of professional bass fishing. READ MORE »

Pros’ Favorite Shad Spawn Baits

Pros’ Favorite Shad Spawn Baits

With the bass spawn winding down across the South, it’s time to capitalize on the shad-spawn bite. Shad spawn patterns usually don’t last long into the day, but fishing the shad spawn can be a fantastic way to catch a pile of fish and some big ones to boot. READ MORE »

Pros’ Favorite Baits for May

Pros’ Favorite Baits for May

Across the country, May is a great time for fishing, with tons of bass in and around the spawn and a lot of baitfish species spawning as well. With warming water, it’s a great chance to throw a topwater for the first time, or really to do just about whatever you want in some parts of the country. READ MORE »

Review: Outkast Tackle Perfect Ned Head

Review: Outkast Tackle Perfect Ned Head

There are a ton of different Ned heads on the market now, many of which are quite good. The Outkast Tackle Perfect Ned Head was designed by Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit angler Josh Douglas, and having used it pretty extensively this spring, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. READ MORE »

Two Species Spawning at Havasu 

Two Species Spawning at Havasu 

The weatherman did it again. About two weeks prior to today’s kickoff for the Toyota Series Western Division season at Lake Havasu, the forecast called for highs in the mid-80s and sunshine for three straight days during the tournament. Instead, practice was rainy, and the current forecast calls for precipitation for at least the first two days and highs that likely won’t top 70 degrees.  READ MORE »

Game Day on Okeechobee

Game Day on Okeechobee

The second stop of the Toyota Series Southern Division is hitting Lake Okeechobee later in the year than usual for FLW. Typically, big, multi-day FLW events on the Big O go down in January and February, but this one runs March 12-14 and should offer a different look at the familiar and ever-changing body of water. READ MORE »

It’s Anyone’s Game on Overfull Hartwell

It’s Anyone’s Game on Overfull Hartwell

South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell kicks off the 2020 Toyota Series Eastern Division season this week with a three-day, mid-week showdown of the area’s best bass anglers, hosted by Visit Oconee South Carolina. Hartwell definitely has the potential to produce 20-plus-pound bags, but Mother Nature has decided to create some havoc with lake levels this winter, and it’s anyone’s guess as to how well the fishery shows out. READ MORE »

Despite Cold, Expect Mega-Bags at Chick

Despite Cold, Expect Mega-Bags at Chick

Freezing temperatures greeted anglers for the 2020 Toyota Series Central Division tournament on Lake Chickamauga this morning. As usual on Lake Chickamauga this time of year, every angler is hoping for a 30-pound-plus bag of bass during the Feb. 27-29 tournament. READ MORE »

College Championship Kicks Off on Harris

College Championship Kicks Off on Harris

Championship week for any sport is as exciting as it gets and it’s no different for the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance this week on the Harris Chain. Competing for a $30,000 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard, 162 college bass fishing clubs will have free range of the chain to vie for the title. READ MORE »