KELSEYVILLE, CALIF. – Forget that stuff about leading horses to water – anglers have no influence over what bass do and when they do it. Case in point: a whole lot of befuddlement for fishermen who had hoped to capitalize on Clear Lake’s spawning movement during the FLW Stren Series Western Division event in Kelseyville, Calif.
Despite two days of warm, sunny weather, the resident largemouths were not yet ready to transition from prespawn to spawning mode; cold, windy weather earlier in the week seems to have the fish rattled. There’s no lack of smaller males looking for love in all the right places, and a small number of females have started nesting. But let’s just say that the Hotel Hubba-Hubba has plenty of vacancy.
Many anglers in later flights reported fish moving toward the shallows in the afternoon, but the unmistakable shoreward migration, marked by waves of big females packing the creeks, tules and flats just hasn’t yet begun.
Nevertheless, resourceful anglers will find their limits and though he weighed nearly twice as much on day one, Lincoln, Calif. pro Wade Curtiss retained his first round lead by weighing 18 pounds on day two. Adding to his first day weight of 34-11 – the eighth heaviest in FLW history – Curtiss posted a 52-pound, 11-ounce total and extended his lead to 11 pounds, 10 ounces.
Keeping his cards understandably low, Curtis revealed that he was fishing tules in the lake’s north and south ends, looking for beds and fishing a brown jig with a white trailer. “I have a couple of spots in both ends of the lake, so I was going back and forth to check them.”
During his checking, Curtis observed changes in bass behavior. “I found some new stuff today. It warmed up and the fish started suspending a little more.”
In second place, Philip Garcia remained close to port and worked on a group of fish he located in deep water at the south end of the lake. “I had found these fish during a previous tournament. They had gone away, but now they’re back. Everything is offshore – the fish are sitting right on the bottom.”
Working jigs, Senkos and swimbaits in 15-30 feet, Garcia said a fast, snappy retrieve was most effective. He caught fish throughout the day and ended up with the day’s heaviest stringer – a 23-pound, 10-ounce effort that gave him a 41-1 total. Garcia’s catch included an 8-6 that bit a green pumpkin jig about 30 minutes into his day.
Brian Nollar of Homer, Alaska gave up one spot from his day two finish and placed third with a limit weighing 13-11 and a combined total of 39-13. He fished shaky heads with Zoom trick worms in candy bug and watermelon red flake.
Nollar said he had to scramble when his day one spots ran dry. “The fish completely moved out of the area I found yesterday. I moved about two miles to some offshore rock piles and I was able to cull and get some good fish.
“The prespawn fish are so unpredictable. They move up and they move out. There’s really no way to follow them.”
Tim Hendricks of Stockton, Calif. earned the Snickers Big Bass award with his 9-pounder. Of interest, Witter Springs, Calif. pro Jimmy Reese had taken the big bass lead just minutes earlier with an 8-15. When Hendricks laid his biggest fish in the scale basket, tournament director Chris Jones noted that the fish needed to be 9 pounds to take the top spot – a memorably prophetic observation.
Hendricks fished non-descript shorelines and caught his big bass on a light hitch colored swimbait fished in about 15 feet of water.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the Stren Series Clear Lake event:
6th: Sean Stafford of Fairfield, Calif., 37-15
7th: Michael C. Tuck of Antelope, Calif., 37-12
8th: Mark E. Crutcher of Lakeport, Calif., 37-9
9th: Zack Thompson of Orinda, Calif., 37-4
10th: Jimmy Reese of Witter Springs, Calif., 37-2
Life was a drag for co-angler leader Baker
Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. That’s the philosophy that co-angler leader Kyle Baker took into day two and when he applied it to his bait presentation, the results were indisputable.
After placing second on day one with a 23-pound, 1-ounce stringer that included the day’s biggest bass (9-13), the Lancaster, Calif. anglers bagged 15-4 on day two for a 38-5 total. He fished green and watermelon Zoom finesse worms on shaky heads and kept his presentations mild.
“I think these fish are pressured on the dropshots, so I’m trying to give them something different to look at,” Baker said. “The key was just dragging it really slowly across the bottom and letting the bait stay in the water as long as I possibly could.”
Scott Sweet, of Chatsworth, Calif. improved one notch with a second-place total of 37-1, while Thomas Wang of Saratoga, Calif. moved into third with 33-11. Tommy Cardoza, of Lakeport, Calif. remained in fourth place with 33-8 and Rich Reeser of Dixon, Calif. finished fifth with 32-13.
Jake Stephens of Reno, Nev. took big bass honors with his 9-1.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 co-angler leaders at the Stren Series Clear Lake event:
6th: Jerry Garcia Jr. of San Diego, Calif., 31-9
7th: Dan Tracy of Prunedale, Calif., 31-1
8th: J.R. Wright of Truckee, Calif., 31-0
9th: Travis Parks of Harrisburg, Or, 30-14
10th: Jake Stephens of Reno, Nev., 30-12
Day three of Stren Series action on Clear Lake continues at Friday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 6:30 a.m. (PT) at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa in Kelseyville, Calif.