Lakeport, Calif. – The buzz prior to the opening round of the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. National Western Regional presented by Magellan is that Clear Lake, touted by many as the best largemouth fishery west of the Rockies, may be a bit stingy this year. A number of competitors indicated that fishing during practice was tough, wondering whether any of the 220-angler field would weigh bags close to the 30-pound limits that California’s largest natural lake is known for during spring.
“After three days of pre-fishing I’m just not seeing the numbers or weights,” says California B.A.S.S. Nation president Mark “Chief” Torrez, who brought a 30-10 sack to the scales at this same tournament three years go. “The fishing is incredibly slow which will make this year’s tournament really competitive.”
Lake County’s weather has been up and down over the past several week’s, alternating between cold front conditions with associated winds to warm, high-pressure days. Another cold front is predicted to move through the region over the next few days.
Lake level fluctuations aren’t expected to impact the fishing this week following a lack of significant rains for more than a month. Rising waters, which peaked in late April, are now slowly receding at just over an inch per week.
Changing Clear Lake water temperatures, however, may play a significant role. Unseasonably cool weather will likely drop water temperatures, which have been in the low 70s, into the upper 60s.
“The tough fishing is definitely related to the weather,” adds Torrez. “These fish are totally confused and are having a hard time figuring out what to do – it warms up and they move up to spawn, then it gets cold and they move back out.”
During Torrez’s first two days of practice he didn’t find any spawning bass. But with a few days of warmer weather they began migrating onto beds.
“They’re starting to move up and there were a good number of bed fish on the last day of practice in some areas,” says Torrez, “but at the same time there were lots of empty beds in other areas. So with this week’s front and chance of rain it’s tough to say what’s going to happen.”
The bite at this big bass factory can change as quickly as the weather. And even with several reports of the challenging fishing, there are always anglers that solve the puzzle.
“There’s somebody out there that knows exactly what’s going on with these fish,” concludes Torrez. “And they’re going to end up winning this tournament.”
The Day 1 weigh in begins at 5 p.m. ET at the Konocti Vista Marina in Lakeport. You can also tune in to see who figured things out by watching live streaming video online and tacking results, stories and photos at Bassmaster.com.