Fished Clearlake for the first time.

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th365thli
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:01 am

Fished Clearlake for the first time.

Postby th365thli » Sun Jun 30, 2019 8:40 pm

Posting this in the "Fishing Reports" section as well.

I finally fished Clearlake this Saturday. I'm moving out of California and I needed to make this trip and fish it once. Some friendly members here gave me some advice. I thought it might be interesting to post what I did and how I went at it as a newcomer. I had only one day to learn and fish the lake, thus I had to split my valuable time graphing and fishing.

First impressions....wow what a lake, compared to what we get near San Jose. The defining feature of the lake to me is how abundantly diverse the cover is. There's tules, submerged vegetation, rocks, docks, mats, laydowns, dropoffs, rock walls, seawalls. I don't know if I just came at a certain time, but if there's a type of fishing you like, you can do it. Most lakes have a handful of techniques that work at a particular time of the year. My impression at Clearlake was you could do whatever you wanted and still have some success. You wanna spend all day flipping tules? Go ahead. Drop shot rocks and docks? Sure why not. Crank all day? The world's your oyster. I could go on but I digress.....

I wanted to fish Friday night but it was too windy and dangerous. Saturday 6:30am I launched out of Clear Lake State Park. I immediately started flipping tules. It's the first obvious thing you see and very tempting. However, you can waste a lot of time and get trapped doing so. Plus everyone and their grandmother flips tules. It's the basic bitch pumpkin spice latte technique of fishing. I saw at least 8 boats at Quercus Point. There is submerged vegetation now and the fish are dispersed. I saw some people pick off fish here and there flipping shallow but I quickly changed strategies. Remembering the advice about rocks, I looked at my navionics and tried to find some. This is where having a good map card really helps. This particular one had good contour lines and lots of labels of potential spots. Shag Rock really stood out to me. I made the run there from Quercus point and quickly graphed rocks. I tied a dropshot with a googan baits drag n drop, and quickly caught a few 2-3 lbers. I then tied on a Keitech football jig with a Keitech crazy flapper and caught a few more. All healthy 2-3 lbers. The drop shot and finesse jig would be my primary weapons.

Having caught all the fish I could around Shag Rock, I consulted the map again. There are just so many viable spots, it was hard to choose. I decided to keep my radius short and made my way to Soda Bay, which seemed to have docks near deep water. Again, having a map card really really helps. I picked off more fish at the docks. Saw a guide and his 3 clients on a boat. All 3 clients were fishing dropshots. Saw them catch some. Caught a few more at the docks then I then graphed around a little more to try and eliminate water. Ate lunch, then went back out, alternating between Shag Rock, Soda Bay, and near launch. Biggest was a nice 3, pushing 4 on the dropshot. Lost one of similar size. Came back out in the evening, the water was white capping and it was dangerous to venture out, so I stayed near the tules near launch. I got a new flipping stick and I was determined to catch some flipping. Managed to hook 3, land 2. Thus ended my trip. I didn't catch an enormous amount, or anything huge, but I learned a lot and made the most of my time. I saw people power fishing, dropshotting, jigging, flipping, all with varying degrees of success.

I don't have any other meaningful tips. Just fish the way you want, you'll probably catch something lol. The only thing that I didn't do much of was fish reaction. If you're at a new lake, use maps, online or a map card. Get good at reading contour lines, have the patience to spend time graphing, have some faith, and just go for it. It's easy to do what you're comfortable with, but what you're comfortable with won't work all the time. Another thing I noticed at at each spot there were a ton of boats. Usually that's a bad sign, but this lake is so loaded with fish, I would catch them side by side with other anglers. I can only imagine what I can do with a small crowd and more familiarity with the lake.

Larry Hemphill
Posts: 749
Joined: Thu May 26, 2005 8:08 pm
Location: Yuba City, California
Contact:

Re: Fished Clearlake for the first time.

Postby Larry Hemphill » Sun Jun 30, 2019 9:34 pm

Wow! This is the first essay I have ever read on the reports section. As a former teacher I would say you write very well! I will usually make a comment on a post, as others will, about a subject brought up on the forum. You went a lot further on your post - well done!
It sounds like you fished the north end down to the narrows (Shag Rock). And you did well. It is a shame that you won't have a chance to really learn more of what some consider one of the top lakes in the nation, certainly for the average size of the bass, crappie, and catfish. Several trophy bass were caught this winter-spring up to 16+ pounds. Amazing!!
One really doesn't know a lake until they fish it 13 months out of the year - which we can do in most low elevation lakes in California. Each season is different. You would not have had that kind of day in mid-winter. The water is very cold and most anglers will use live bait. If you make a trip back to Clear Lake for a visit, late spring and late fall are the best times for a trophy bass. Spring starts at the north end.

WB Staff
Posts: 8896
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:56 am

Re: Fished Clearlake for the first time.

Postby WB Staff » Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:15 pm

@th365

Awesome post on Clear Lake! Thanks for sharing the info as a newcomer to the lake.
Bet you will miss the California fishing!

th365thli
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:01 am

Re: Fished Clearlake for the first time.

Postby th365thli » Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:18 pm

Larry Hemphill wrote:Wow! This is the first essay I have ever read on the reports section. As a former teacher I would say you write very well! I will usually make a comment on a post, as others will, about a subject brought up on the forum. You went a lot further on your post - well done!
It sounds like you fished the north end down to the narrows (Shag Rock). And you did well. It is a shame that you won't have a chance to really learn more of what some consider one of the top lakes in the nation, certainly for the average size of the bass, crappie, and catfish. Several trophy bass were caught this winter-spring up to 16+ pounds. Amazing!!
One really doesn't know a lake until they fish it 13 months out of the year - which we can do in most low elevation lakes in California. Each season is different. You would not have had that kind of day in mid-winter. The water is very cold and most anglers will use live bait. If you make a trip back to Clear Lake for a visit, late spring and late fall are the best times for a trophy bass. Spring starts at the north end.


Thank you Larry, I like writing, especially about fishing. It allows me to reflect and organize my jumbled thoughts after a long trip.

Yes, My range spanned from Quercus point to Shag Rock. I graphed around Anderson Island but it was very grassy, hard to fish for me and I didn't see anything. I had to selectively fish spots as I didn't have enough time. I would love to fish the area again. Maybe one day I'll book a trip with you.

It's hard not to wonder how other boaters are doing when I fish. I appreciate the kind words, I have no idea what's considered a good day at this time of the year. Clearlake is famous enough that you wonder if everyone just catches 6+ lb fish left and right. It almost has a mythical status, so it's nice to get a dose of reality and tempered expectations. Again, I just wish I could fish it more. I would've stayed out 24 hours if my body and the weather let me!

th365thli
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:01 am

Re: Fished Clearlake for the first time.

Postby th365thli » Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:22 pm

WB Staff wrote:@th365

Awesome post on Clear Lake! Thanks for sharing the info as a newcomer to the lake.
Bet you will miss the California fishing!


Thank you! I most certainly will, but I'm moving back to North Carolina and they have some decent fishing for sure. I left North Carolina with a handful of rods, a kayak, a basic graph, and minimal knowledge. I'm going back with a bass boat, two Mega Humminbirds, and more rods and reels I need. I'm excited to apply what I learned in California towards my home state. It's almost as if I went to a "Bass University" :lol: :D

I believe this state is one of the hardest states to fish in. You really need to know how to fish deep clear water and utilize your electronics well. Then you have the Delta, a shallow water bonanza which forces you to learn how to factor in tides. However, once you get the hang of it, I believe you can fish anywhere else in the country with success.

Larry Hemphill
Posts: 749
Joined: Thu May 26, 2005 8:08 pm
Location: Yuba City, California
Contact:

One more comment!

Postby Larry Hemphill » Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:08 pm

You nailed the big question - how are the other boats doing?? Actually the boats don't do anything, but the anglers do! THAT is the big question on every trip when you see other bass boats nearby. Tournament fishing or guiding - no
difference in the question - I WONDER HOW MANY THEY GOT?????? Your mind says "They must have 20 lbs and we have 3 lbs!!" That is why you want to be the only boat out there. No questions then!

Dek
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 5:08 am
Location: folsom

Re: Fished Clearlake for the first time.

Postby Dek » Tue Jul 02, 2019 6:06 am

Thanks for the great report. I have also never fished CL, but one of these days...My buddy lives in N Carolina and I can't tell you how many pics of big bass he has texted to me. Make sure you have a Monkey Butt Whopper Plopper when you get there :lol:

TRIXGOTAFISH
Posts: 162
Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2016 12:04 pm

Re: Fished Clearlake for the first time.

Postby TRIXGOTAFISH » Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:04 am

Great job documenting your first experience there i appreciate it!

Plan to go there sometime soon as i too have never been yet......seems like a dream lake w/ all sorts of ways to fish it


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