Last night, before the Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Evinrude began on Clear Lake, California pro Jimmy Reese said that fishing the famous fishery this spring has been like fishing on a new lake. So far, that commentary on the recent water fluctuations, unseasonably cold spring and gradual return of grass has proven accurate.
We visited many of the commonly productive areas and mostly found anglers scratching for limits. It’s likely that the day’s sunny conditions will deliver a strong afternoon bite, as the fish start moving tighter to cover and the increasing warmth stimulates more activity.
We saw water temperatures from 62 to 68.5 degrees, while clarity varied from a foot or so, to looking at tin cans on the bottom in 4 feet of water. There’s a lot of inconsistency in the lake right now, so anglers are searching for the right combination of factors.
One thing that appears to be consistent is the massive amount of bait in the lake. Black grebes, which dive to forage on fish, were nearly as numerous as tournament boats in the marina basin this morning, and on the lake these red-eyed birds clustered in every area we visited.
Clearly, this bodes well for the lake’s overall health, but fishing in a bait-laden area is like trying to sell hot dogs at a dinner buffet.
Reese had a slow start to his day, with a couple of small keepers plucked from docks. We watched him working a bed fish near a dock walkway with multiple soft plastics, but the fish wouldn’t commit.
Our on-the-water coverage found Joe Uribe Jr. with a limit of approximately 19 pounds by mid-morning. Uribe’s co-angler, Rick Grover, also had his limit. The anglers found a good reaction bite and upgraded on a drop-shot pattern.
Mike Stahlman and his co-angler, Tim Denecs, also boasted limits by mid-morning. Stahlman said they had done their damage with finesse rigs, mostly across rock points with tules.
Elsewhere, by late morning we had seen Benjamin Byrd with a limit; Vince Hurtado and Philip Roesener with four each; and Chris Costello, Tyler Ellis and Melvin Williams with three apiece.
Several anglers, including Mark Casey, were pitching drop-shots around docks, while tules got plenty of attention. Notably, we watched pro John Karayan push his boat deep into the slender stalks, pitch high over the tule tops to reach inner pockets and catch a 3-pounder.
This can be a tough game for co-anglers, but when Karayan left that inner sweet spot, his co-angler, Jesse Ceja, caught a small fish right at the mouth of the cut.
Anglers are employing a mix of baits, including bladed swim jigs, spinnerbaits, wacky rigs, crankbaits, Texas rigs, Carolina rigs and drop-shots. It looked like more anglers were targeting prespawn and postspawn fish than bedders, but that could change if the afternoon conditions usher more fish shallow.
Tune in for the weigh-in on FLW Live at 2:30 p.m. PT.
Date: May 10-12, 2018
Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner in each category determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.
Takeoff time: 6:30 a.m. PT
Takeoff location: Konocti Vista Casino Resort & Marina, 2755 Mission Rancheria Road, Lakeport, CA 95453
Weigh-in time: 2:30 p.m. PT
Weigh-in location: Konocti Vista Casino Resort & Marina, 2755 Mission Rancheria Road, Lakeport, CA 95453