Lake McClure (March 12)

I participated during the Future Pro Tour’s season opener at Lake McClure. Having never seen the lake my optimism for winning the event was low; my confidence was still high. Checking recent tournament results I found that eleven and a half to twelve pounds was winning tournaments, I felt I could put together a similar limit. Imagine my surprise when my 10.40 wasn’t in the running for a check.

The lake is a standard central valley lake, nondescript with clay and shale dominating the landscape.  Those familiar with this lake may know it as a quality fishery, for me it was mediocre at best. Adversity makes the game fun.

We started the day with a run to the northeast side of the lake; it was an area with long flat points and shallow bays. Starting with a crankbait my partner hooked up early, it shook free.  A few casts later I hooked into a good fish on a crankbait. This fish went in the box a 3.5 large; couple casts later 2.5 spot on same crankbait.  The next few hours went a lot like this catching fish on crankbaits, tubes and small beavers. The size however was not the same, we could only get one more fish that was of decent size the rest were just keepers.

I always try to attack a lake with reaction first, those fish that respond are usually bigger. If I get a reaction bite it points me to areas that might be active. So if a crankbaits effective on a steep point but not on a flat one I will focus my attention there. Unfortunately the bite I found was on all the different areas I fished leaving us only one option, search for big fish holding areas.

A key to this lake and most of the lakes in the central valley is finding areas that hold largemouth. The top ten teams had mostly largemouth in their bags, which really seemed to make the difference.  Spending time on the water finding what banks hold largemouth will vastly improve your chances of winning tournaments.

In the end we finished 31st the majority of our bag came on crankbaits, strike king series 6xd sexy shad. Hind site tells me I should have stayed on the flats working spawning areas thoroughly. Most of the leaders caught their fish on jigs and drop shots. Had these baits been used in our arsenal the outcome might have been more favorable, but who knows.