Top 10 Patterns from Clear Lake - Major League Fishing

Top 10 Patterns from Clear Lake

Cranking, flipping and most everything in between
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Big crankbaits were a popular option. 2013 Clear Lake champ Jody Jordan can sling with the best of 'em. Photo by Jody White. Angler: Jody Jordan.
October 19, 2015 • Jody White • Archives

Heading into the final day of the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Evinrude on Clear Lake, everyone in the top 10 was within five pounds of each other. For a lake with the caliber of fish that Clear possesses, that’s a razor-thin margin. When it all shook out, things were even closer at the top, where Joe Uribe Jr. bested Jody Jordan by a mere ounce.

All week long the top competitors mixed things up – from deep to shallow. Almost everything was on the table as a valid option. Despite the amount of pressure from a number of large regional tournaments that have been held in recent weeks, the best in the field still managed to make Clear Lake show out.

Here are the details on their patterns, as revealed after the final weigh-in Saturday.

Uribe’s winning pattern

Complete results


Jody Jordan shows off part of the 24-2 bag that put him in contention to win.

2. Jody Jordan – Vacaville, Calif. – 66 pounds, 9 ounces – $11,180

After catching only 17-14 on the first day, Jody Jordan of Vacaville, Calif., brought in 24-6 and 24-5 on days two and three. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough for the win. The deep-cranking maestro relied heavily on a gizzard shad-colored Strike King 10XD throughout the week, but he also added in some fish he caught by flipping and on a jig.

“I hadn’t even fished that spot in the tournament until today,” says Jordan of the mainlake point that produced his final-day kicker and a few other big bites. “They’ve been there for a month and a half, and there’s a really big school there, but I couldn’t get them to go in practice.”

Jordan’s first stop on the final day was Henderson, a popular boulder bank with a steep drop. Shocked that it didn’t produce, Jordan moved to where he’d end up catching most of his weight. Because of the wind, Jordan wasn’t able to set up on his honey hole the way he prefers. Instead, he had to hide behind the point and cast across it, or ride upwind and fling down on it.

“I just kept throwing and throwing and throwing,” says Jordan, the 2013 champion at Clear Lake. “I think that’s why I’m losing so many fish. They’re eating it because they are tired of seeing it. Not because they want to eat it. The thing is, the only color I can get them to eat is that gizzard shad, it’s like they are running away from anything else.”

Jordan isn’t joking about force-feeding them. On day two, he says he made 25 casts on the same line before hooking up with his kicker.

“When I would land a fish I would throw back in and hook another fish, but when I would lose a fish that would shut them down. That last one I lost in the morning, it was a big one. I think when you lose a big one they will just shut down, they probably think momma knows something.”

Later in the day, after catching a small keeper flipping, Jordan stopped at another popular community hole and caught a 4-pounder with a Gene Larew Biffle Bug to solidify his limit. Though his final tally included plenty of weight from flipping and dragging, his skill and persistence with a big crankbait was what almost carried Jordan to his second Rayovac FLW Series win.


Game on for Mark Crutcher.

3. Mark Crutcher – Lakeport, Calif. – 62 pounds, 9 ounces – $8,655

Talking about starting off in style: Mark Crutcher of Lakeport, Calif., blasted 29 pounds, 9 ounces and took the lead on day one. Unfortunately, he could never replicate that success, but held strong enough to take third.

On days one and two, Crutcher began the day fishing a crankbait on a few different shallow and deep areas. Then, around 10 in the morning, he’d move toward his punching areas.

“The first day I started out with a shallow crank and I caught a nice one and then I went deep cranking and I caught a nice one. Then I went to punching,” details Crutcher. “My mistake on day two was that I was in too much of a hurry to get to punching. I needed to grind on them a little more with the crankbait.”

Crutcher’s key punching zone was mid-depth grass, from about 5- to 8-feet deep. He targeted the thickest part of the mats with a ¾-ounce Texas-rigged Sprayed Grass-colored Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver and a green pumpkin punch skirt. Crutcher says he had the bites to compete for the win in 2014, but the difference this year was the Powell Max 3D 8-foot punching rod that helped him get the big ones out of the deeper grass.

In the end, it was simply a failure to get the big bites that cost Crutcher the title. While he’d caught giants on day one, the same areas produced only one 4-pound class fish for him the rest of the tournament.


Jim Hawkes weighed 59-15 and earned the second top 10 of his FLW career.

4. Jim Hawkes – Apache Junction, Ariz. – 59 pounds, 15 ounces – $7,213

Jim Hawkes never had a tremendous day, but he was impressively consistent and earned his second FLW top 10 as a result.

Hawkes fished several areas that a lot of other competitors tapped on the south shore of the mid-lake region, but his baits and technique helped him rise to the top.

“They wanted the bait low [in the water column] and on the bottom,” explains Hawkes. “It seemed like when I got the bait stuck on the bottom and could pop it out of the rocks, that’s when they would take it.”

For baits, Hawkes swapped between a green pumpkin Biffle Bug on a ¾-ounce swing head and a brown and purple 7/8-ounce Phenix jig with a green pumpkin Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw trailer.

“It feels so good,” says Hawkes of his finish. “I didn’t think I could come out to California and compete with these guys. I was really struggling trying to do all these fancy California things in practice, so I just fished like I would at home on Lake Roosevelt and went to work.”


Bryant Smith handled Clear Lake pretty nicely and snuck up into the top five on day two.

5. Bryant Smith – Castro Valley, Calif. – 58 pounds, 15 ounces – $6,666

Bryant Smith also joined the punching/flipping crew for the majority of his weight.

Smith says he targeted deeper isolated clumps of grass in about 8 feet of water with a 1-ounce weight and a variety of green pumpkin craws.

While the punching pattern worked for him on days one and two, the fresh weather forced a change on the final day.

“Today with the cloud cover I didn’t think they would be in the grass,” says Smith. “I just ran around all day fishing rocks and docks with a crankbait. It wasn’t great, but I scratched up a limit.”


Jimmy Reese bows up.

6. Jimmy Reese – Witter Springs, Calif. – 55 pounds, 4 ounces – $5,770

After narrowly missing the Forrest Wood Cup during the Walmart FLW Tour season, local pro Jimmy Reese capped his year nicely with a top 10 on his home lake.

Reese caught a few kicker fish shallow throughout the week on a Boing topwater in the afternoons, but his bread and butter was a margarita mutilator colored 7-inch Roboworm Fat Straight Tail Worm on a 3/16-ounce Frenzy Baits shaky head.

“I fished Points with deepwater access, about 5 to to 20 feet deep,” explains Reese. “I culled up all day long, but I had to keep moving and I didn’t always do that. I probably hit a dozen spots each day, but the first day I spent too much time on my first spot.”

On the final day in the heavy wind, Reese mixed in a drop-shot rig with a 6-inch Roboworm Straight Tail Worm for a few fish as well.


Kerry Harris busted 55-3 and finished seventh.

7. Kerry Harris – San Jose, Calif. – 55 pounds, 3 ounces – $5,049

Kerry Harris of San Jose, Calif., stuck to a shallow game plan for the duration and brought in over 55 pounds of bass as a result.

“I fished the north west shore, I stayed there the whole tournament,” says Harris. “I probably caught 50 fish day two and I probably caught 20 fish on the final day. There was really nobody over there fishing that area. I was the only one in there throwing a crankbait. I would just blanket the area with casts until I hit one.”

Harris’ crank of choice was a bluegill-colored 6th Sense Crush 50X squarebill and he tossed it primarily around shallow grass.


Marco Valdez notched the first top 10 of his career at Clear Lake.

8. Marco Valdez – Gilbert, Ariz. – 52 pounds, 8 ounces – $4,328

Though Marco Valdez almost scored a top 10 this spring in the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Guntersville, this was his first time fishing on the final day.

“The first two days the buzzbait fish were what did it for me,” says Valdez.  “Then, once I got a stringer, I could catch a couple of upgrades with the deep diver. Today there was just too much wind, I needed that slick water.”

Valdez paralleled deep rock banks with a summer sexy shad Strike King 6XD and used a chartreuse 3/8-ounce Booyah buzzbait for the shallow stuff. Up shallow, he targeted a few areas around the State Park that had scattered grass in about 2-feet of water.


Chris Franks finished ninth with 52-6.

9. Chris Franks – Petaluma, Calif. – 52 pounds, 6 ounces – $3,606

Chris Franks of Petaluma, Calif., picked up the second top 10 of his career at Clear Lake and did it with a bait that the fish haven’t seen much of yet.

“I started fishing deep,” explains Franks. “There’s a new goby swimbait by Little Creeper I was throwing and I was able to fish through some areas that had been really pressured and caught them. The goby sorta saved my tournament.”

Franks rigged the small swimbait on a belly-weighted hook and “super-glued” the bait to the weight so that it would come along the bottom perfectly horizontally. He primarily threw it around rock and isolated brush in 10  to 20 feet of water.

“I was wishing it real slow like a jig,” Franks adds.  “You can fish through areas where others have fished with a jig and crankbait and it's like the Trash Fish was born all over again.”


Carl Keller hoists some of the fish that lead to his giant bag on day two.

10. Carl Keller – Hidden Valley Lake, Calif. – 49 pounds, 8 ounces – $2,885

A guide on the lake, Carl Keller caught almost two-thirds of his weight on day two when he sacked up 28 pounds, 1 ounce to leap from obscurity to the top 10.

“Day one I had some reaction fish that I tried to get to go, but they wouldn’t,” says Keller. “I just caught a ton of little fish.”

On day two, Keller moved on to a long dock with wooden pilings where he’d found some decent quality fish in practice. Those fish had grown overnight, and he found 5- and 6-pounders there instead of mere 3-pounders. Later in the day, he added a 7-pounder that he caught punching grass.

The final day, without sun to position the fish, the magic dock fizzled and Keller was only able to punch up four small ones.

For the dock, Keller used a brown and purple Gan Craft jig. When he flipped, he brought a sprayed grass Reaction Innovations Kinky Beaver into play.