A good fishing story doesn't always have to originate on the water.
Since 1985 we have had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with our friends whom we met in Sonoma, Serge and Cheryl. Serge is French and he and Cheryl have 2 children named Remi and Julian.
After moving to Lake County in 1997 I had been telling Serge and his sons about the magnificent catfish fishing that Clear Lake provided.
Remi's interest piqued about five years ago and he made it very apparent he would like to do some fishing the next time he was up. We made arrangements for the family to stay overnight and I got my cat fishing gear ready.
When I fish for catfish off the pontoon boat I use a heavy rod, 15 pound test line and 2 hooks, the bottom baited with a nightcrawler and the top baited with shrimp.
I then line my pontoon up between Robin Hill and Mount Baldy and let a slight westerly wind drift the boat along. Sometimes during the drift the rod will bend over double and the fish is on.
We got up and realized I did not have any shrimp for the top hooks. We drove down to Sentry Market to pick up some of the cheapest shrimp we could find. Not counting on people eating that much seafood during Thanksgiving we didn't realize that shrimp was in short supply.
I had instructed Serge to buy the cheapest frozen shrimp he could find, but there was none. Serge rang for the butcher and when the butcher encountered a Frenchman seeking shrimp he must have assumed that Serge was looking for something gourmet for the holiday.
He still couldn't supply us with cheap frozen shrimp but he went in the back and found some excellent tiger prawns for $7 per pound. Then the butcher went into a long dissertation about how this shrimp would be best prepared.
Serge isn't the kind of guy to shut someone's conversation down rudely and he participated in the conversation about the art of preparing tiger prawns. Serge was gone for quite some time and I wondered what was taking him so long.
When Serge returned he looked somewhat perplexed and said, “Wow, that butcher got pretty upset.”
I looked down at the tiger prawns and said, “Oh, you should've bought something cheaper.”
Serge said, "That's all they had,” and he proceeded to tell me the story about his encounter with the butcher.
He told me that in the end after a long conversation he told the butcher, “It really doesn't matter, were only going to use them for catfish bait.”
He must've taken a butcher by surprise after the butcher had his mind set about this Frenchman cooking his beautiful tiger prawns. Serge said the butcher yelled, “You are going to use my $7 a pound tiger prawns for catfish bait?”
I burst out laughing at his story and we headed for the lake.
Clear Lake did not treat us well that day and Remi only got two bites. It was too slow to set up on them very well, but I'll always remember the incident with the shrimp that Sentry Market more.
Now on with the fishing reports and it looks like the bass bite is improving.
Ted Elliot, E Ticket Tackle, Lakeport; 707-262-1233
The story is much the same as it was last week, with catfish being the No. 1 species being caught around the lake, according to customers at our shop.
Catfish are being caught by both boat and shore fisherman. The No. 1 bait is still crawdads, when available. Night crawlers rigged on a drop shot have been very productive from both boat and shore. One of the additional benefits of using a drop shot with a night crawler is you still have a good possibility of picking up a nice bass.
Several fishermen fishing off of docks, piers, and the shoreline around Lakeport have reported landing catfish in the 5 to 15 pound range. Additionally, a customer of the shop sent in a picture of a nice approximately 10 pound catfish caught at Clear Lake State Park using night crawlers on a drop shot.
Hopefully this catfish bite will remain strong until after the 2012 Lakeport Yacht Club Catfish derby which is to be held from Friday, Aug. 24, until noon on Sunday, Aug. 26. Entry forms may be picked up at most area bait and tackle shops or by contacting Mike between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 707-279-1974.
Now on to the bass bite. Even though the water quality is marginal in some areas because of the weeds and algae there are still areas where there is open water in the deeper parts of the lake. The real key to success right now is to keep moving and covering large areas of water locating the bass.
Once a concentration of bass is found work the area thoroughly. In the morning before the algae comes up from the bottom and the surface temperature hasn't risen to 80 degrees there is a decent topwater bite using buzz baits, chatter baits, poppers, spooks and frogs.
After about 8 a.m. this bite tends to fade away and then the standard jig, senko, drop shot pattern appears to take over. Some of the more productive areas have been Rocky Point in the Lakeport area, Shag Rock, Henderson Point and Konocti Bay.
Additionally, there have been reports of a crawdad colored deep diving crank-bait bite in waters that are between 15 and 25 feet deep.
Fishermen who are willing to try punching using something like a Reaction Innovation Sweet beaver with an once and a half tungsten weight pegged to braided line are being successful in some of the weedy areas.
Again the keys to success right now is to keep moving and covering large areas of the lake. There are several nice bass being caught with an average weight of around 5 pounds being the norm.
Dave Brabec, Clearlake Outdoors, Lakeport; 707-262-5852
The lake is a ghost town with hardly any boats out. I fished out of Lakeside County Park on Thursday and we had a good buzzbait bite first thing. Black DDT buzzbaits did the trick. Also caught some on chatterbaits, swimbaits and punching.
I caught 15 fish before noon with the biggest fish around 4 and a half pounds.
I haven't been south but guys are telling me there is a good drop shot bite going on down there. Not much action on the frog, at least for me.
Catfish fishing remains good and will get better as it cools down.
I took my son to the east branch of the Russian River on Saturday and we had a limit of trout in 25 minutes all on small crankbaits. The Department of Fish and Game planted there and Blue Lakes last Thursday.
A friend of mine has been catching some nice bass to 5 pounds here at night on jigs. With the recent trout plant the fishing should be good early in the mornings before the fish move deep.