CLEAR LAKE: Supersize Your Largemouths

Fishing Destiny

Field & Stream Online Editors

CLEAR LAKE: Supersize Your Largemouths
California serves up just about any flavor of bass fishing experience. This year, however, there's a clear choice for anglers who want regular action from big bass.

Lake County's Clear Lake, which lies 110 miles north of San Francisco Bay, is the largest natural freshwater lake within the state's borders. Using recent fishing contests as a barometer, the average largemouth being caught and weighed in Clear Lake this year is nearly 4 pounds. Anglers have had to tally 30 to 35 pounds in a five-fish limit to win a tournament here.

With 44,000 surface acres and 11 free public boat ramps scattered around 110 miles of shoreline, there's plenty of room for tournament anglers and recreational fishermen alike. Late winter and spring is the best time for large bass, but summer is a blast in more ways than one. Rip stickbaits near docks, pull crankbaits at night, or skip a frog imitation across the top of weed mats that form by late July-and get ready for explosive strikes that can spray vegetation like shrapnel. Locals rig with 50-pound braided line for that particular method.

The current rage, however, is fishing with live jumbo minnows. Let them swim freely under a sliding bobber or free-line them over rocks. They cost $11 a dozen, but guides are willing to use up to six dozen a day because the results in Clear Lake are so consistently large.

For information, contact the Lake County Chamber of Commerce at 800-525-3743; www.lakecounty.com.