From the Delta, the Elite pros head to Clear Lake for the Golden State Shootout. Considered by many to be the best trophy lake in northern California, Clear Lake produces remarkable numbers of bass in the 8- to 13-pound class. The lake record stands at over 17 pounds. At 43,000 acres, it is the largest natural lake in the state.
The lake's heaviest fish are caught in March, April and May during the spawning season. Because of the clear water here, many Elite pros will spend the tournament sight fishing, locating specific fish during practice, then racing to them the first morning of competition.
What most pros like about Clear Lake is the abundant shoreline cover, which includes a mixture of tules, boat docks and rocks. Although there is deeper offshore structure, the average depth is only about 12 feet, and while there should be visible bass on beds, there will also be plenty of others out of sight in slightly deeper water.
That will make swimbaits, crankbaits and soft plastics among the favorite lure choices. Previous tournaments here have been won with each. At times, lure choice depends a lot upon the weather, since strong north or south winds — often present in the spring — make key shallow water areas too rough to fish.
Still, Clear Lake is ringed with locally famous hot spots that produce well on a regular basis, including Konocti and Soda Bays, Lakeside County Park and the Boat Works Cove. Regardless of which direction the wind may be blowing, at least one will not only be fishable but likely contain some quality bass, as well.
Lakeport was incorporated in 1888, but the history of Lake County's oldest town goes back at least another 40 years to the Gold Rush era of the late 1840s. Just to the north of historic downtown Lakeport are Nice and Lucerne, which are often referred to as "the Switzerland of America" because of the terrain and steep Barlett Mountain range, which resembles the Alps. To the south is Kelseyville, a small friendly town with historical sites and plenty of local flavor. (www.lakeportchamber.com)