Tips for Summer Success on Clear Lake

Racking up three Clear Lake top-10’s in B.A.S.S. events and 10 in FLW tournaments, that included two victories, it is apparent Jimmy Reese is quite adept at finding the right ones on the Golden State’s big bass fishery.

“It is summertime and traditionally, you will mostly come across post spawn fish; but you can also find a few beds, some spawners and a lot of fry guarders,” explained Reese. “You can have a really good day with one bait; but that doesn’t always hold up and adjustment is the key to catching fish on multiple days at the lake during this time of year.”


“With the heat comes the algae,” the angler stated. “When the algae come it changes things. If you’re looking for beds, you cannot see them and you cannot see the fry. If you locate these things in clear water, it is a good time for Senkos or topwater lures.”

Fish positioning changes on cooler days of summer as opposed to the typical, hotter seasonal sun that can govern the area. To locate the bass, Reese recommended finding a school of bait and working that area, saying that is the only time that an angler can really camp out one spot.

“A lot of patterns can work at this time of year – at least seven or 10 will catch fish; but there are probably four or five that really dominate,” he stated. “The success of a pattern is dependent on fishing it in the right area.”

Reese suggested a dropshot or Senko for the rock piles on the south end.

A go-to for Reese on Clear Lake is a Roboworm. In his 2006 FLW EverStart win, the Roboworm was responsible for most of his catch. He likes a Margarita Mutilator Robo on a 10-inch leader with a 3/16 or 1/4-oz weight for his dropshot rig. He fishes that on 8-lb fluoro using a slow presentation. “Let the worm do the work,” he added. His gear includes a Lamiglas XP 702 S Light Action Rod with a spinning reel.

As for a Senko, he suggested watermelon laminate, green pumpkin or bluegill colors. He fishes a 5-inch, rigged both wacky and Texas on 12 or 15-lb fluorocarbon, depending on the cover.

His mid-lake attack included looking for a structure bite on islands with a dropshot or a jig. He fishes Pepper Jigs in dark colors of greens, browns and purples.

He also suggested a topwater presentation with a variety of surface lures that are successful for the big bites at this big bass fishery.

“A Spook, frog, buzzbait, Rico, pencil popper – they can all be great baits during the summer,” said Reese. “If you’re in the grass and find yourself getting hung up with a Spook or popper, switch it up to a buzzbait or Rico. I like baits with that erratic action. You can really topwater all day; but there are times when the morning and evening get the best success.”

Reese’s topwater tools include a Lamiglas XT 764 C. “You can throw a topwater bait all day on this rod,” he stated. He ties his frog and buzzbait on with 50 or 65-pound braided line, uses 12-pound mono for his Rico and 15-pound for his Spook.

A crankbait and chatterbait could also be in his extended arsenal for the season.


Reese reported that the hitch is more dominate, translating to bigger bass.

“I’ve also seen a little bit of shad this year,” he said. “Just watch the western grebes. If they’re eating something, you know where to fish. If you’re looking to match the hatch, there are also a ton of craws; a lot of bluegill in some areas and a big crappie spawn. I saw one cove with fry solid for 300 yards.”

As he discussed the algae bloom, he explained that in the morning when it is not as warm the water is clearer and as the day warms up, the algae takes over.

 “Clearer water can be found in the middle of the lake,” he explained. “There are different types of algae. We’ve got green, blue, brown, and the stuff that looks like shoelaces or rigatoni. Myself, I stay away from the chunky, stringy or pancake looking algae. It will be around until it cools down – usually that is in the beginning or middle of September. It can be an advantage or a disadvantage. The lake turns over at the end of September. It turns brownish by the beginning of October.”

Grass is always an important factor in finding the fish and there is plenty this year. “There is definitely more vegetation on the north, as normal,” he added. “There is a ring of it around the perimeter of the north end from Hwy 20 in Lucerne to Rodman, Nice, Lakeport, State Park – you will find it there. Good vegetation means the fry has a place to hide and the bass have a place to find their food. There is much less vegetation on the south end. Not all of it looks real healthy. Every year is different; but this year, I have to say, it looks thinner. There isn’t as much in the south end as in the past – probably because of the wind that we’ve had over the past three years.”

 He reported that the water level is down. “We usually have at least another foot or more at this time of year,” he stated. He also said there was no problem making the run into Rodman at this time.

Northern California pro Jimmy Reese has amassed more than $400,000 in combined career earnings in B.A.S.S. and FLW events. He received the Big Bass award in the FLW EverStart Series Western Division stop on Clear Lake in 2006 for a kicker that went 9 pounds, 11-ounces. His largest single day’s catch on the lake in an FLW event was 28-pounds, 3-ounces.