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Fishing Clear Lake for the first time

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Per another member's suggestion, here's my experience and thought processes on fishing Clear Lake for the first time. I posted this on a different forum but maybe you guys will find it entertaining. The date fished was June 29th of this year:

 

I finally fished Clearlake this Saturday. I'm moving out of California and I needed to make this trip and fish it once. Some friendly members here (westernbass.com) gave me some advice. I thought it might be interesting to post what I did and how I went at it as a newcomer. I had only one day to learn and fish the lake, thus I had to split my valuable time graphing and fishing. 

First impressions....wow what a lake, compared to what we get near San Jose. The defining feature of the lake to me is how abundantly diverse the cover is. There's tules, submerged vegetation, rocks, docks, mats, laydowns, dropoffs, rock walls, seawalls. I don't know if I just came at a certain time, but if there's a type of fishing you like, you can do it. Most lakes have a handful of techniques that work at a particular time of the year. My impression at Clearlake was you could do whatever you wanted and still have some success. You wanna spend all day flipping tules? Go ahead. Drop shot rocks and docks? Sure why not. Crank all day? The world's your oyster. I could go on but I digress.....

I wanted to fish Friday night but it was too windy and dangerous. Saturday 6:30am I launched out of Clear Lake State Park. I immediately started flipping tules. It's the first obvious thing you see and very tempting. However, you can waste a lot of time and get trapped doing so. Plus everyone and their grandmother flips tules. It's the basic ***** pumpkin spice latte technique of fishing. I saw at least 8 boats at Quercus Point. There is submerged vegetation now and the fish are dispersed. I saw some people pick off fish here and there flipping shallow but I quickly changed strategies. Remembering the advice about rocks, I looked at my navionics and tried to find some. This is where having a good map card really helps. This particular one had good contour lines and lots of labels of potential spots. Shag Rock really stood out to me. I made the run there from Quercus point and quickly graphed rocks. I tied a dropshot with a googan baits drag n drop, and quickly caught a few 2-3 lbers. I then tied on a Keitech football jig with a Keitech crazy flapper and caught a few more. All healthy 2-3 lbers. The drop shot and finesse jig would be my primary weapons. 

Having caught all the fish I could around Shag Rock, I consulted the map again. There are just so many viable spots, it was hard to choose. I decided to keep my radius short and made my way to Soda Bay, which seemed to have docks near deep water. Again, having a map card really really helps. I picked off more fish at the docks. Saw a guide and his 3 clients on a boat. All 3 clients were fishing dropshots. Saw them catch some. Caught a few more at the docks then I then graphed around a little more to try and eliminate water. Ate lunch, then went back out, alternating between Shag Rock, Soda Bay, and near launch. Biggest was a nice 3, pushing 4 on the dropshot. Lost one of similar size. Came back out in the evening, the water was white capping and it was dangerous to venture out, so I stayed near the tules near launch. I got a new flipping stick and I was determined to catch some flipping. Managed to hook 3, land 2. Thus ended my trip. I didn't catch an enormous amount, or anything huge, but I learned a lot and made the most of my time. I saw people power fishing, dropshotting, jigging, flipping, all with varying degrees of success.

Tips: I don't have any other meaningful tips. Just fish the way you want, you'll probably catch something lol. The only thing that I didn't do much of was fish reaction. If you're at a new lake, use maps, online or a map card. Get good at reading contour lines, have the patience to spend time graphing, have some faith, and just go for it. It's easy to do what you're comfortable with, but what you're comfortable with won't work all the time. Another thing I noticed at at each spot there were a ton of boats. Usually that's a bad sign, but this lake is so loaded with fish, I would catch them side by side with other anglers. I can only imagine what I can do with a small crowd and more familiarity with the lake.

 

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Some more quick thoughts:

 

- There's all this argument about mega vs lowrance, or panoptix vs 360 blah blah, but I've found out over the course of the years that all that is secondary to a good map card. If you have a good map card and any type of modern depth finding you will be okay. They are essential for narrowing down water. You're not gonna graph the entire lake (unless you have oodles of time and really want to). 

 

-The Googan baits drag n drop is the real deal. Not only did it perform on Clear Lake but also on the pressured reservoirs near town. It's an effective changeup from the very popular roboworm. 

 

-The Ultrex is worth the money x2, the value added is immediate and tangible

 

-Take your transom saver off before you launch lol. I didn't, and got lucky I only dinged my prop and I could still run. 

 

-Keitech crazy flapper is another one of my secrets. It's a pressured water performer. Hula grubs are the go-to popular trailer here, and for good reason, but if you need a changeup, grab a crazy flapper. 

 

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