LAKEPORT, Calif. – There couldn’t be a better way to close out the 2013 EverStart Series Western Division than on the famed northern California fishery known as Clear Lake. Huge swimbaits and giant largemouth provide an exciting atmosphere for anglers, however, the one thing that could hinder the bite the week is the arrival of fall.
A recent cold snap has caused the lake to begin the fall phase of turnover. Generally, most of the shallow fish begin to move deeper and become a little more lethargic making them tough to pattern.
“I came up here on Tuesday expecting the fishing to be a whole lot better than it is,” said Walmart FLW Tour pro Ish Monroe. “The initial cold spell earlier in the week that trigged the turnover and angling pressure are holding the bite back.
“It takes about a week or so for these fish to really get settled once turnover is done,” continued Monroe. “Now, you can still catch some big bags – especially on a swimbait – but there is a lot of chance you take with throwing that thing all day. It’s really a lot like frog fishing because you need consistent weather for the bite to stay strong for multiple days and that is something we just haven’t had.”
One of the best ways to deal with fish in transition is to be versatile which is exactly what Monroe plans on doing.
“I haven’t found anything real consistent this week. I want to throw a swimbait all day because I know the quality of fish you can catch on it but I just haven’t had enough bites to make me commit. The great thing about Clear Lake is you can catch a big one on pretty much anything. I plan to try a few different things throughout the day. There is grass all over the lake but it doesn’t seem to be as matted as usual. That seems to have the fish more spread out so you need to cover water. The bite in the grass and in general seems to get better later in the day, so I’ll just need to keep after it.”
Local favorite Paul Bailey of Kelseyville, Calif., shares the same feelings as Monroe.
“The fish are definitely in transition,” said Bailey. “There is still a ton of fish shallow, but there are just as many out deep and it seems like it is very day to day on how well they will bite. It’s also hard just to pattern them right now as well. I really think the guys that make adjustments on the fly will make it to the top 10.
“I have a game plan for today and it involves one bait, but I can’t say it just yet. I also know what I would like to do tomorrow and they are two different things. I just want to catch two solid bags that will hopefully carry me into day three and a give me a shot at winning.”
While the weather has been up and down over the last week it appears as though there will be some stability for the three days of competition.
“The next couple days of steady weather should help the bite,” Bailey went on to say. “It’s been getting pretty cool at night so the bite tends to pick up as the day progresses. It hurts a little since we can only fish until 3 p.m. but the stabilizing weather could help that.”
Another major concern for the anglers is the amount of pressure put on the lake over the past month. There has been a large tournament basically every weekend for the past several weeks and it is taking a toll on the bite. Even still, this is Clear Lake and there are fish eating big swimbaits – which means anything can happen.
While swimbaits take the spotlight for the bait of choice there will also be plenty of anglers utilizing more traditional techniques. Spinnerbaits, jigs, Chatterbaits and drop-shots will all play a role this week as well.
So what weights can we expect to see from Clear Lake this week?
Both Monroe and Bailey believe around 42 to 45 pounds will make the top 10. Monroe says that 51 to 54 pounds should be leading it and the general consensus is that over 70 pounds will win.
Anglers will take off from the Konocti Vista Casino Resort and Marina located at 2755 Mission Rancheria Road in Lakeport at 7:30 a.m. Weigh-ins will be held daily at the Konocti Vista Casino Resort and Marina beginning at 3 p.m. Takeoff and weigh-in are free and open to the public.
Pros will fish for a top award of $40,000 plus a Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers will cast for a top award consisting of a Ranger Z117 with 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met.
The EverStart Series consists of five divisions – Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of four tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the Strike King Angler of the Year title, which allows them to fish the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup.
Temperature at takeoff: 43 degrees
Expected high temperature: 72 degrees
Water temperature: 57-60 degrees
Wind: less than 5 mph
Day’s outlook: partly cloudy, clearing later