Monday, February 9, 2015

Yellow Bass Bonanza 2015

Clear Lake, Iowa is the home to Yellow Bass Bonanza.  In the few times I have visited this town to fish the lake it appears that the town revolves around two things, The Surf Ballroom and Clear Lake.  Fishing is in the blood of this community and it shows to whomever you choose to strike up a conversation with.  It truly is a "lake town" which is so rare in Iowa.
Clear Lake is fast becoming known for one of the hottest ice fishing events in the Midwest too.  The Clear Lake Yellow Bass Bonanza, hosted by local fishing guide Kevan Paul is fast becoming the talk of this state and many surrounding states.  2015 marked the 3rd year for the event and it drew 254 teams, or 508 anglers.  I have never participated before but my friend Jacy Large twisted my arm enough and threw our names into the tournament this year.  I sure am glad he did.  This event brought over 500 anglers to Clear Lake over 10 different states and even a team traveling from Canada.  I was able to catch up with many "Internet friends" and finally speak face-to-face with them which is so rare anymore.  That, along with the fishing Clear Lake made the weekend one I won't soon forget.
We showed up in Clear Lake just in time for the pre-tournament meeting at the Surf Ballroom.  That was first for me and the place is really amazing.  This was a great time with a meal and that rare chance to chat with friends rarely seen.  We headed back to our cabin for the night and after some talking about strategy for the next day I was asleep pretty early.
Tournament morning, to say the least was a bit tricky.  It was raining in Clear Lake and put a thin layer of ice on the roads.  This meant for some careful driving and a few moments of laughter.  We got to the launching area and decided waiting in the truck as long as we could to avoid getting all wet was the first plan of the day.  That was a good plan, as the rain had just about all stopped at 8am.  We quickly unloaded the equipment and off to the starting point.
The tournament began with high hopes of catching those pesky Yellow Bass.  A quick note to those reading who don't know the yellow bass; these are invasive species to Iowa Lakes.  They don't belong in them and can over populate a lake causing the Iowa DNR to spend millions of dollars reconstructing a lake.  To help control the population of these fish the DNR has no limit on how many you can keep.  For the most part on Clear Lake this has helped the lake to also provide great fishing for crappies and walleyes.  The yellow bass is very tasty too, making great meals for anglers willing to chase these fish down.  More information on the yellow bass can be found on the Iowa DNR site: Yellow Bass
Some of the Yellow Bass we were able to
catch in the 4-hour tournament
The Yellow Bass is fun fish to catch, when you can find them.  They are constantly on the move causing anglers to drill many holes throughout the day and possibly relocating all-together.  We chose one area to start fishing in about 10 foot of water on the big lake.  We took our Vexilar FLX-28's and quickly checked the holes to find active fish.  In under an hour we caught 63 fish.  It was quite a thrill to catch fish that quickly.  The bite slowed the next couple of hours and in the final hour we decided to make one last move.  We moved up into about 8 feet of water and drilled another 20 holes or so.  Again, a school of fish showed up and we caught them as fast as you could get your bait back down the hole.  Jigging spoons and larger ice jigs were the best baits, and we would switch back and forth if a Yellow didn't want one offering.  The typical baits worked, waxorms, spikes and cutbait as long as we kept switching things up once in a while.  The final few minutes of the tournament came and the sorting of our fish had to begin.  50 yellow bass could be weighed in for our team total, we sorted through over 100 fish to get our best ones ready for the weigh-in.  I also had a nice White Bass that came in the middle of that first hour of rapid catching of the event.  The white bass was a separate "big fish" contest within the regular yellow bass tournament.  When things were all said and done, we had caught the 3rd biggest white bass, which turned out to be worth almost $200 and ended up 5th place out of the 254 teams.  That gave us a nice check and some new Clam Outdoors rod/reel combos and other Clam merchandise.  A great day on the ice to say the least.
For complete results, many pictures and video of this event click HERE.

5th Place out of 254 teams

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