nglers everywhere call California’s Clear Lake a
bucket list fishery. It’s just that good! So, what
does that mean for those of us in the Golden State that are lucky enough to have the lake right in our own
backyard as spring approaches?
It means fish on! This year, we are looking at the Clear
Lake of old – simply because we have water! The influx will
allow the bass to move into areas they haven’t been able
to access in recent years, the locations they used to spawn
in – the Keys – the canals, the Lakeport shoreline, the Nice
shoreline, the Lakeport Lagoons. All those cool spawning
areas will be back in play this year!
Spring lasts a long time on Clear Lake. It lasts longer than any other fishery we have in this state. That first little push of fish that makes everyone say, “Oh, spring is coming,” is usually in the first part of February, and we saw that this year.
That’s the first wave of fish that makes the move up to spawn. There will be another wave in March, another in April, and we will pretty much see all stages of the spawn – pre-spawn, spawn, post-spawn –through June. During the March and April wave, we will see them in mass numbers, armies of them.
That translates into bed fish at the upcoming California Open this June. We will likely see the smaller fish on beds at that time, not the big ones we see in the early waves, but we will definitely see them on beds in June. That four or five months of the spawning season is one of the things that makes Clear Lake so unique and why it can be so fun for anyone in the spring.
When fishing Clear Lake, of course, key locations are important; but more so than spot fishing, Clear Lake is about understanding where the fish will move up.
When the bass start coming up in the reservoirs, we know where they are coming from, but herein lies another unique characteristic of Clear Lake. At Clear Lake, we don’t always know where they are coming from, but we know where they are going, which are the places to target.
That’s why there is always a wad of boats in the same spots year after year. They’ll stack up in the mouth of Rodman, the entrances of the canals, State Park, County Park, or Byron’s Corner (which has some significant changes coming back from the drought). The community spots are community spots for a reason, so don’t rule them out just because of pressure.
Technique-wise, Clear Lake can play to the strengths of every angler. It can simply become a question of, “how do YOU want to catch ‘em”?
For those that want to go basic and worm fish it, the go-to’s can be as easy as drop-shotting a Margarita Mutilator Roboworm. One pack. One style. One color.
Clear Lake is also a phenomenal Senko or Ocho lake. Instead of having to throw the five-inch that you have to downsize to on a spotted bass lake when fishing Clear Lake, you can step it up to a six- or seven-inch Strike King Ocho on a big hook.
Again, you can get it done with limited colors at Clear Lake – Green Pumpkin, black and blue, and any other color you want to carry. You can get away with two but pick one more – your favorite – and support your local tackle store. Those are the two most “finessy” type tactics, but that’s if you can call a seven-inch Ocho a finesse bait.
If we’re looking at the power fishing that everyone loves to do at Clear Lake, there are some other must-have options. High water and a lot of bait fish put us back into catching ‘em on an underspin or an A-rig. Those are the 20- to 25-pound limit catchers in the spring. I rig both with a Rage Swimmer.
Often the A-rig can be the early spring game-changer. I find it best to keep the heads light with big strong hooks.