LAKEPORT, Calif. – Although the expected sight-fishing bonanza never materialized Thursday, largely due to unrelenting winds gusting anywhere from 25 to 35 mph, a few anglers managed to persevere and gut out some healthy stringers nonetheless. Heading up the list of pros who managed to turn in impressive performances despite the overwhelmingly difficult conditions was veteran western stick Jimmy Reese.
Using a total catch of 26 pounds, 11 ounces, Reese grabbed the overall lead in the Pro Division by 4 ounces.
“I got lucky man, what can I say?” said Reese, who currently hails from Witter Springs, Calif. “It was tough out there but it was a lot of fun. It’s been awhile since I’ve been (leading). So anytime you can say that, you’ve got to feel good.”
While the extreme windy conditions made sight-fishing a lot more difficult than anglers were expecting, Reese said he still managed to grab some bedding fish throughout the day.
“On Sunday, I found two beds with about 20 pounds of fish total and I managed to catch all four of those fish pretty easily today,” he said. “I had a limit by about 9 a.m., caught 15 fish total and culled three 4-pounders. Then, in the last 10 minutes or so, I stuck that 6-pound, 3-ounce fish. So overall, it was a pretty good day for me.”
Reese, who has fished Clear Lake for as long as he can remember, said he has never seen the fish behave quite like they did today.
“These fish are just so hungry right now,” he said. “But they are the easiest big fish I’ve ever tried to catch on a bed. Usually, you can spend a few hours just trying to land one bed fish. But today, getting those big fish in the boat was so easy. It’s kind of crazy.”
Reese said he spent about three hours total sight-fishing and five hours fishing other techniques.
“I used jigs, drop-shots, swimbaits and targeted bedding fish with grubs,” he said. “I still have a lot of fish to target tomorrow as well. I’m just not sure they are of the same quality as the fish I caught today. I probably have another 22 to 23 pounds left on beds. But after that, I’m probably going to have to just go fishing.”
Gutierrez lands in runner-up position
“You know, it was par for what I was expecting,” said Gutierrez. “I was catching a lot of the same weight in practice so I’m not really surprised. I had a really good idea what I was looking at heading into today.”
Like Reese, Gutierrez said he really mixed up his strategy and techniques on the water.
“I was fishing all kinds of ways today,” he said. “I was sight-fishing but I was also using three or four different baits that I was really focusing in on. It’s pretty simple stuff. I caught some good fish on swimbaits early and the day just got better and better from there. I really have kind of an A, B, C (three-pronged technique) program going right now.”
Gutierrez said the main key to his success is his fishing location.
“I’m really targeting transition areas,” he said. “It’s a place where the fish are spawning, the fish are staging and the fish are moving out. And right now you have waves of fish coming in.”
As for tomorrow, Gutierrez said he is expecting for similar results.
“I’m expecting the same thing,” he said. “I don’t see the trend going down too much. And I can definitely see bigger fish coming in and out of my areas. I shook off a lot of fish bigger than the ones I caught today in practice. I can realistically see catching a 30- or 35-pound bag in that area. Since I found that area on Sunday, I’ve felt really good about my chances. I just love this lake.”
Lindner grabs third
Fresh off of his recent EverStart Series win at Lake Havasu, Troy Lindner of Los Angeles, Calif., appears to be fishing in a different gear. Using a total catch of 26 pounds, 6 ounces, Lindner took hold of third place overall. And he couldn’t have been happier.
“I’ve been working on my mental game more than I ever had my whole life,” said Lindner. “And it looks like it’s paying off. I fished pretty relaxed today. I targeted bedding areas but only really caught one fish on an actual bed. It’s just crazy out there right now. You can pretty much go on any spot and be on winning fish. At least that’s the attitude I’m trying to take.”
Lindner said he targeted bass predominantly fishing Rapala Trigger X baits. However, with the way the lake had been fishing until today, Lindner said he didn’t think his total weight would have been enough for a top-five finish.
“I thought there would be a lot of 30-pound bags today,” he acknowledged. “I really thought we’re going to see a lot bigger weights, but I think the wind really affected the sight-fishing bite and kept those weights down today. But there are plenty of big fish out there. And there are a lot of big fish in my areas – I saw a bunch of them today. So hopefully, tomorrow, I’ll be able to go out there and catch them.”
Milligan snares fourth
After recording a total catch of 24 pounds, 1 ounce, Jason Milligan of Shasta Lake, Calif., found himself in fourth place overall. But like the rest of the field, he said the conditions were some of the worst he’s seen in quite some time.
“It was pretty interesting out there today,” he said. “I wound up fishing this lake pretty much from end to end, going through 6- and 7-foot waves all day. But you know what, I can’t wait to get out there and do it again tomorrow.”
Breazeale gains top-five result
“It was brutal out there today. The weather took me completely off of my game,” he said. `I totally had to change and go with my backup plan. But given everything that happened today, I feel pretty happy about the (end result).”
Breazeale said his backup plan amounted to throwing 6-inch worms at tules in about 9 feet of water.
In addition, Breazeale also netted the day’s Snicker’s Big Bass award in the Pro Division after landing a nice 7-pound, 10-ounce largemouth. For his efforts, Breazeale won $194.
For a list of complete results, <a href="http://www.flwoutdoors.com/bassfishing/afs/tournament/2012/6772/clear-lake-professional-results/"click here.
Gray nails down top spot in Co-angler Division
“I wound up doing a lot better than I planned on doing,” said Gray. “But that one bite – that 9-pounder – obviously helped me out a lot. The conditions were tough. I only caught seven fish. And it was slow, slow, slow fishing out there. But overall, I’m definitely happy with how things turned out.”
Gray also walked away with the Snicker’s Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division after landing an 8-pound, 15-ounce largemouth.
Best of the rest
Mike Rychard of Anderson, Calif., grabbed third place overall with a total catch of 22 pounds, 10 ounces.
Nick Burggraff of San Jose, Calif., finished the day in fourth place with a total catch of 22 pounds, 9 ounces.
Rounding out the top-five finishers in the Co-angler Division was Gary Morris of Tracy, Calif., who landed a total catch of 22 pounds, 8 ounces.
EverStart Series action continues at Friday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. at the Konocti Vista Casino Resort and Marina, located at 2755 Mission Rancheria Road in Lakeport, Calif.