Summer Bassin on Clear Lake
By Richard Pounds
After years of guiding on Clear Lake the first thing that comes to mind is top water. Buzz bait, Super spook, popper, frog, prop stick bait are all good. Last year the Super Spook was on fire, where as the year before the popper was the go to bait. My personal favorite is a buzz bait and I'll use it all day around shade, skirting weed mats and under docks. Some of my best days have been in the middle of the day; in fact my largest top water bass (11 lbs) came from under a dock at 11am in September.
The point is, always have a few top water lures tied on for summer time bassin!
The rods and lines I use for these techniques are a 765 sbr by Powell with at least 50 lb braid for throwing frogs. For spooks I'll go with a 704 cb rod and 30 lb braid or 15 mono when working open water. When buzzin', I like 30lb braid coupled with a 704 or 684 cb rod, depending on type of cover. For close work, like under docks, lay downs and overhead trees I go to a shorter rod (684), which is better for accuracy. Poppers, chuggers and prop-stick baits, (like a Devils Horse) go with 12 lb mono. (No fluorocarbon for top water, it sinks)
Sun is up and the bass are down where they live, not to worry as Clear Lake has some of the best summertime bass fishin' in the country and 100 bass per day is not uncommon! Let's start with the, now old drop-shot technique, which I feel is one of the top producers any time of the year and in the summertime it, shines the most. You can use just about any type of soft plastic bait from 4" finesse worms to large creature baits. It can be fished from 2' of water to the deepest part of the lake and in and around any kind of cover or structure. For rods and lines I like a 682 ml spinning rod, which is also good for dart head and shaky head applications. I have found over the years, and a lot of testing, that braided Hi-Vis 20 lb line with a three or four foot 12 lb fluorocarbon leader works best for this lake, it will save you a lot of brake-offs as well as bring in a big bass that you may not have caught with lighter line. The record for my clients is a whopping 12-_ pounder using this method. Another reason for the Hi-Vis line is that being a guide with clients, some having little or no experience, it helps them see those strikes that may be otherwise missed. Let's go back to which soft plastic to use and weight and hook size. My personal choice for this lake is 6" Robo worm in either MM111 or Margarita Mutilator and Zooms Baby Brush Hog in watermelon candy, watermelon with black or red seed. Weight depends on water depth and wind, I use mostly a 1/8oz cylinder or up to 1/4oz weight, hook, 1/0 Extra Wide Gap. And for shaky head or dart head, most of the time I'll use the same Robo worms as I do for drop shotting. The Carolina rig is another method that works very well in the summer. Try it over and around long points using a baby brush hog or a 6" plastic worm.
Tired of fishin' slow? OK, let's see if we can get on a reaction bite. Spinner baits and crank baits work well here too. Braided line from 30 to 50 lb spooled on a 6.2 retrieve reel and 684cb rod. I like the shorter rod because accuracy is key in getting under docks and back into shady areas, of which this lake has no shortage. For shallow water try a 3/8oz with chrome Colorado and gold willow leaf, skirt chartreuse/white, in most cases. In the deeper water use a 1/2oz spinnerbait in the same colors. The important thing to remember is to slow-roll your blade. I see guys all the time come here from other lakes with spots & small mouth bass and they think a fast retrieve is the way to go. That doesn't work here very often, so keep it slow and you will get far more bites. The slow retrieve also works for buzzbaits too. Crank baits can be used the same way in shallow water, the same as spinner baits, only I go with 12 lb mono or fluorocarbon on a 702cb glass rod. The Speed Trap in crystal craw, shad, chrome/blue, back & bluegill colors will do the trick. For deeper presentation try, Norman DD14 or DD 22's in about the same colors. Swimbaits? Yes they work year round but not as good as in the spring. I had a client a few years ago that gave it a try in mid-summer and after about an hour he nailed a 10 lb er! You just never know on this lake.
Jigs, if you like throwing jigs this lake has a variety of structure to choose from i.e.; Rock piles, tulles, docks, weeds etc. Last year the brown/orange 1/2oz jig produced a 30+ pound and a few 25+ pound 5 fish limits for clients. Crawl it, hop it, or swim it, let the fish show you what they like. For line choice you may need more than one set-up depending on type of cover. For heavy weeds and flippin wood and docks I use braid to 50 lb. For rocks and running jigs through underwater weeds and grass, try 15 lb mono or fluorocarbon.
Let me digress here a little. The early morning top water bite may not be doing the trick. If that's the case try throwing either a crank or spinner bait. I have had some awesome mornings using these methods.
Clear Lake has 100 miles of shoreline and every inch looks as though there's a bass on it. If you like shallow water then the north end is best from State Park all around the upper end and back down to Lucerne you will find the bass in water lass then 10'. That pretty much takes the guess work out of how deep to fish. If you like to fish deep water then go south, there you will find water to 40+ feet, plus a lot more rock piles than the upper end.
These methods have been successful for my clients for the last 9 years to the tune of approximately 4,000 bass a year. Good Luck and "Tight-Lines"
Richard Pounds is sponsored by: Persuader Bass Baits, Powell Rods, Hippotackle.com and Edgewater Resort.
Richard's web site is: www.bassfishinclearlake.com
Editor's note: Rod length and action the first two numbers are the length and the last is the power 705 would be a 7foot, 5 power rod and a 684 would be a 6ft 8 inch 4 power and the lower the power number the lighter the action of the rod.