“A Clearlake Special” The Beatdown

One of my main goals for each tournament is learning from the experience. During my latest tournament for the WON Bass Western Classic at Clear Lake I learned one very valuable lesson, read the water for what it is. I spent nearly 3 days of pre fishing with Greg Gutierrez and the conditions were tough. A front moved in and overnight temps had dropped over 10 degrees. Clear Lake is very shallow in some areas and a cold snap like that could really affect the bite. We anticipated the bass moving in shallow to find warmth in the rocks, docks, and concrete, but only managed a few bites.

Day 1 of the event I drew Kevin Stewart. Our plan was to fish shallow docks and grass. We were hoping for key bites under the low light conditions but the fish were noncommittal. By 1pm we had zero fish in the boat. The day was warming up considerably (+30 degrees from the morning). The fish were suspending under docks and the algae bloom came up out of nowhere. Kevin took us back to the key spot and fired a walking bait as a last hope. He said, “This just looks like top water conditions.” After a few casts Kevin had a 6-pound fish violently smash his bait. We got the fish in the boat and I immediately switched to a walking bait. With only 90 minutes left until our weigh-in, we knew this could turn our day around. We ended the day with 3 fish for 12.84 pounds all on the top water baits.

Day 2 of the event I drew Greg Gutierrez. Greg and I talked over the game plan based on something he saw from our pre fish and something he was able to put together on Day 1. I had switched between two Pizz Customs painted LV500’s, the “Beatdown” and “Deadmeat”. These 2 colors were specifically designed to mimic the hitch and shad that are common in the waters at Clear Lake. Greg and I fished key areas in shallow water where huge schools of baitfish congregated as the sun moved overhead. We could see bait being chased practically out of the water and keyed in on those spots. Within five minutes of casting, I had a 5-pound bass on the line using the Pizz Customs Beatdown LV500. Minutes later Greg hauled in his own 5-pound bass on the Pizz Customs Deadmeat LV500. After it was all said and done, we tipped the scales with 26.93 pounds for five fish and the two biggest fish weighing in at 7.01 and 5.94 respectively. Helping me to secure a 7th place finish over all.

I learned quite a bit from this tournament experience, but two things set themselves apart. First, recognize and fish the conditions you have in front of you. Kevin really showed his experience by realizing it was time to put down the baits he used all week and fished the proper bait he saw for that one day. That decision saved us from possibly not weighing in a fish to giving us a chance heading in to day two. Second, paying attention to your pre fish. While pre-fishing we only had a few bites in nearly 3 days of fishing, but those bites showed Greg something he could confidently use during the tournament. As always confidence is the key to catching fish.

Thanks to both Kevin Stewart & Greg Gutierrez for getting me on some fish and Steve Adams from BHQ for the photos.

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