In This Issue:
Bass Fishing in May
Finding Bass with Top waters
Suspended and Spooky
Line Choices
May Offer
Volume 1, Issue 7
May, 2007

Clear Lake Conditions

Lake level at press time is now just under 6 feet, nearly the same as the first of March and almost three feet lower than last year.  Green tules are popping up all around the lake and the yellow-headed blackbird is back to nest.  Water clarity varies depending on the wind conditions but I am seeing areas where I can easily identify what is on the bottom in up to 9 feet of water.  Most areas around the lake there is 4 to 5 feet of visibility with no problem.  Water temps are beginning in the morning around 58 degrees and working up to the low 60’s during the end of the day.

It looks to me like perfect conditions to get a return of weed growth this spring.  We’ll see how it turns out.

Bass Fishing in May

bass fishing clear lake, California
Here is the proof that the largest shiner does not always catch the largest fish!  Thanks Curt for being a great sport.  Trust me, this was the smallest fish of the day.

Bass fishing on Clear Lake in May always presents some interesting challenges.  Firstly, the weather generally turns more stable.  With the exception of every Memorial Day weekend when we typically experience one day of rain to some extent, the weather can be superb.

This May, there are no scheduled tournaments on the lake with the exception of some small club tournaments.  Since the bass have been spawning since the end of March…there will be more post spawn bass than prespawn.  What that means is a return to more reaction baits such as crank baits and blades.  It also is a time to fish with more weightless baits such as the Senko, trick worm, and fluke.   And of course, we still can catch fish on swim baits; I said there would be more post spawn than prespawn, but that means there are still new big fish moving up.

Bass fishing in May also signals the time to start looking for top water action.  Last year, towards the end of the month, we got on a real good and consistent pattern of weeds in the shade first thing in the morning and on some mornings, caught top water fish from first light until almost 10 am!  Most of these fish came on frogs that have a larger room for casting error than the Rico or Spook.  A buzz bait is also a good tool for covering water at this time, both early and late.

According to my notes from last year, a jerk bait saved the day on several occasions.  With the water being significantly shallower than last year, the locations may change a little but anywhere there was spawning activity in April, there will be some jerk bait opportunities in May.

Due to the warming water, live bait slows down considerably during the month of May and I get away from it completely by the end of the month for the remainder of the calendar year.  I have found that to be real effective with live bait, the bait has to remain lively.  This is a difficult challenge in the warming water temps that are common by the end of May.  Early in the month, o.k. later in the month the bait just does not last long enough to remain effective.

Finding Bass with Top waters

bass fishing clear lake, California
Ty and Eric Vanzen with their best two of the day.  Ty nailed a 9 and his dad got one almost 7.  It was that kind of month, a good one, youngsters and big fish!

Largemouth bass on top water baits goes back to the beginnings of bass fishing.  When you think about it, almost every picture you see of a hooked or leaping bass has a top water plug or a plastic worm in the print.  Top water fishing provides both the highest highs and the lowest lows of fishing…it is visual and exciting as well as extremely frustrating when you can’t make it happen.  It can be the presentation that puts your biggest fish of the day in the boat right off the bat.  It can also provide the most memorable missed opportunity of the day.

The biggest thing for me is not what bait to throw, it is where to locate the best areas to try baits on top.  Here on Clear Lake, I look for areas where I know fish are spawning and begin my search there.  Males that are still around bedding areas and protecting fry will come up to hit a bait on top.  Around most of the lake, this means in and around the miles of tules.  If you want to confine that search somewhat, start by hitting the points.  This is also where some of the females recovering from the spawn will hang out to recuperate and feed.  Oh, and by the way, it is the same place new players in the spawning game will show up to stage for their turn in the annual ritual.

We learned from the Elite pros that the floating docks are good holding areas.  Quite a few anglers, including myself from time to time, get so locked in to fishing the pilings and shade under standing docks that we forget or ignore the floating ones.  No doubt they are harder to fish but the top water presentation is perfect for a fish suspending just underneath the floatation waiting for a meal to pass by.

The most obvious place to look for action on top is where you notice surface activity.  I know that it sound too simple but during this month, fish may be found feeding in the same areas every day, at the same time.  That feeding period may be specific to the conditions, or the time of day, but there is something that triggers the spree.  Many of the top water spots we found last year that carried on throughout the summer had active fish on them every day at the same time.

Finally, don’t forget places/areas where you have caught them before.  A good example of this from me is that I know a spot on Don Pedro, back in Woods Creek that I know I can catch at least one 5 pounder if the water level is normal or near normal.  Every May that I have fished there I have caught one on that spot in the morning, twitching a Rapala.  If I knew I was fishing a tournament there the middle of next month and knew the water level was typical, I would not need to see if that fish is there, he/she, or one its relative is there waiting.  If you have areas or spots that you have had success before, try them again, and don’t wait until you hear someone is catching them, be the one who is catching them before every one else knows the bite is on!

The old standard for the start of buzz bait fishing was when the surface water temperature hit 70 degrees.  When you think of it, every one who has a surface temp gauge on their boat gets a different reading, heck, I have two on the boat and they both are a degree apart.  So if you see 65 degrees, don’t wait until you see 70, because mine may say 70 at the same time.

Suspended and Spooky

bass fishing clear lake, California
Andrew and John Allan show off part of the results of their day of fishing.  Andrew on the left at 6 ½ ripe years of age needed help from his big strong dad to hold his best fish which went his age.

The clearer water of May also brings an additional frustration to all the challenges that we as anglers face, seeing suspended bass that we cannot catch!  I have personally developed the mindset that most of those fish are uncatchable…unless maybe you are Shaw Grigsby!  Having that said, I still can catch some of those fish.  Here are some of my ways of turning the tables on a few of those fish.

We have all heard it, if you can see the fish then the fish can see you.  I don’t think it is so much that they see you, as it is how far away you are from them.  We all have caught fish off a dock that someone is standing on.  We all have sight fished and been at least moderately successful.  I believe it is the approach to the fish you see.

When I am fishing docks I am constantly scanning around looking for suspended fish.  Even if I don’t catch fish but see them, I believe I can come back and catch some just by knowing they are there.  Typically you are fishing one dock and then turn to the next one and see a handful of fish suspended under it.  Here are my best shots.

If the fish is still at least a boat length away, softly skip a bait towards the fish.  Don’t try to drop the bait on the fish’s head skip it across the surface towards the direction the fish is facing, maybe 3 to 5 feet in front of the fish.  Keep your movement to a minimum but be ready.  If the fish sinks out of sight away from your bait, move on.  In some cases the fish may dart out immediately and inhale the bait and this is where being ready will pay off.  The other action you might see is the fish sinking down and apparently following your bait, do nothing and wait for the bite.

If the fish is too close or moves off quickly, mark the dock and return to it in 15 to 20 minutes.  Pay attention to where the fish was sitting so you can make a cast based on where you saw it the first time.

My best bait choices for these circumstances are simple:  1) 5 inch Senko rigged wacky with a red hook  2)  Zoom Trick worm rigged wacky on a red hook  3)  a small worm or tube rigged on a 1/32 oz dart head.  All three of these baits will skip well, sink slowly, and attract a bass’s attention more than scare them off.  Light line is also a must for these presentations, 8 pound max, 6 pound preferred, and stick with monofilament, as it will sink slower than fluorocarbon.  Try some of these tips and see if you can’t catch a few more of the bass you see.

Line Choices

The clearer water of late spring is the time that I typically drop down in line size.  The biggest reason is simply to make it harder for the fish to see my line in what can be exceptionally clear water.

As most of you know, I am a real fan of braid on my spinning gear.  While I stick with the 10-pound test braid that I use year round, this is the time of year when I will go from the 12 or 15-pound test leader material to 10-pound test.  I still stick with the fluorocarbon for the leaders.  I will even have a rod spooled with straight 6 pound test monofilament for the suspended fish under docks.

On the bait casting gear that I use, 10-pound test will be the norm.  This will work for crank baits, jerk baits, and even small blades.  I have found it will also work for skipping Senkos under docks as long as the water is not super clear.

For top water applications, I use braided line.  50 pound test for frogs, spooks, and buzz baits being thrown on bait casting equipment.  30 pound test for frogs, spooks, and buzz baits on spinning gear.  20 pound test braid for Ricos on spinning gear.  The two main reasons for using braid on the top water baits are because it tends to float, so by not sinking it doesn’t bring down the nose of the bait and secondly, with very little stretch, it is easier to set the hook from a long distance.  We also use a black marker on the last 5 feet of braid to darken the line to make it more difficult for the fish to see.

May Offer

bass fishing clear lake, California
Top water Tackle Pack that goes to the first 5 anglers booking trips on the May dates specified.  Super Spook Jr., Super Spook, River2Sea Bully Wa 65, Rico, and Rio Rico.

The first 5 anglers to respond to this newsletter by booking a full day trip for two on the 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, or 22nd of May will receive a FREE tackle pack from me that includes:  2 River2Sea frogs, 1 Rico, 1 Rio Rico, and 2 Super Spooks.  All of these baits will be in my favorite colors for Clear Lake & will be brand spanking new.  The retail value of these baits are frogs $7.99 each, Rico $25, Rio Rico $26, Super Spooks $7.99 each, bringing the value of the package to over $80 and no sales tax since they are a gift!  It is my way of saying thanks and also to get you ready with the right baits for the months ahead.  The 5 anglers who sign up first will receive their tackle packs the day they arrive to fish.

Our Web Page...

If you have not spent much time on, check it out. There is a lot of useful information available. Even insights into the best times to fish the lake and other fishing tips. Local lodging, weather, and even lake level reporting is available through the links we have set up. Need something we don’t have displayed? Let me know and I will consider adding it.

We have also made changes to our rate page effective January 2007.

Good fishing and I look forward to seeing you soon!

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Kelseyville, CA 95451
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