| Clear Lake, residing in beautiful Lake County, California, is home to some of the greatest bass fishing the state has to offer. For years, this huge natural pond was called "The Bass Factory" of California. The lake record sits at 17+ pounds and was set in the late 80's in it's heydays. During this time, many monster bass in the 13-16 pound range were caught on a regular basis. Natural attrition and that inevitable down cycle period of time, we saw the fishing at Clear Lake fall off in the early 90s. An influx of hydrilla growth has brought this fishery back. Proof of that is the record catch set by Byron Velvic for a 3 day BASS event in the spring of 2000.
Clearlake is California's largest natural lake. Unlike most lakes in California, no dam was built to create this pond. Nestled in the foothills of lake county at 1,320 feet, Clear Lake has over 43,000 surface acres and more than 100 miles of shoreline. Much of the lake's shoreline is spattered with tules. And throughout 65% of the lake you will find plenty of docks. The lake is fairly shallow on an average basis, probably about 10-20' foot. The deepest areas are from the Narrows to the south end's two arms. These two arms have been formed by the volcanic presence of Mt.Cobb where you will find the shore line covered with big volcanic rock all the way out to depths of 40'.
The north and south ends of the lake are like fishing to different lakes. The main body, to the north, is very shallow, with expansive flats and has an abundance of weed growth. The southern portions of the lake have many structural changes with the presence of the lava rock formations. Many ledges, humps and islands can be found here.
And peppered through out the lake are many backwater areas, including long narrow sloughs, flooded flats and marshes. With Rodman slough to the north and Cache Creek to the south, these are the two main tributaries leading water into and out of the lake. There are times when you will find a very noticble amount of current in these two areas. Both of these areas have posted 5 mph zones. They can be shallow and treacherous, so caution is forwarned.
The algae in Clear Lake is part of the natural food chain and helps to keep the lake fertile and healthy. Because of the lake's relative shallowness and warm summer temperatures, the algae serves another important purpose. It keeps the sun's rays from reaching the bottom and reduces the growth of water weeds which would otherwise choke off the lake. In recent years, the algae subsided some and the weeds boomed. Many feel this was the key factor in Clearlake's return to stardom as a premier fishery.
The blue-green algae typically "blooms" twice a year, in spring and late summer. The intensity of the blooms varies from year to year and is unpredictable. When this occurs, unsightly slicks and odors can be produced.
The bass in Clear Lake are of the Florida/Northern hybred strain. They grow very fast and large. They have a tremendous appetite and have no lacking in the food sources available to them here. Two primary bait fish reside in the lake. The ever present Hitch and Shad. The Hitch are long thin slender prey and the shad can get in excess of 7-8" long. Like all fish in this lake, the bait here grows to a considerably larger than normal size.
And of course, Clear Lake has an abundace of and very healthy crawdad population. Also present in the lake is a healthy population of sunfish and crappie. There is no shortage of food supply to the black bass on this lake.
Every bait in a bass fisherman's arsenal will work here. 8-10" plastic worms and jigs work year round. Clear Lake is the flipper's paradise. Rip baits are extremely succesful in the late winter and early spring. This last year the SENKO fooled many a bass year round. In the spring time, big swimbaits such as the ones by BassTrix used by Byron during the BassMaster are very effective as well. Late summer and fall, the frogs, rats and various topwater mat baits must be on the deck of your boat, or better yet, always in you hand. Big Spooks also work well in the late summer and early fall. Splitshotting small plastics, tubes and grubs are effective baits used around the many docks scattered throughout the lake.
Clear Lake is a big fish factory. It has a versatile abundunce of cover and structure, do not think that you can fish this lake with light tackle. You should be prepared with "Bubba" tackle at all times. You should also take not that due to it's shallow nature, the winds can whoop this lake into an unmercifully frothing monster. Passing through the "Narrows" and traversing the south ends can be extremely dangerous, proceede with caution.
Good luck and enjoy this pond, it is one of the best in the country.