Tuesday, March 1, 2022

We WON the 2022 Clear Lake Yellow Bass Bonanza

 This annual event is one that has lasted the test of time.  In the world of ice fishing, tournaments come and go just as the ice freezes and melts away in the spring, this one has stood the test of time.  I believe this was the 10th year in existence of the event held by the folks at Clear Lake Bait and Tackle and owner Kevan Paul.  The past couple of years attendance at this event has dwindled for numerous reasons, however the competition of the event has not faltered.   This year 41 teams put up the entry fee for an all-out Yellow Bass brawl on Clear Lake.  

My partner, David Gissel and I took off to Clear Lake early Saturday morning to look over the vast area of Clear Lake for the first time this year.  We immediately started to find a few yellow bass in the "big lake" area.  We quickly searched the water column from 5 feet deep out to about 9 feet deep.  We marked four good areas, some holding the giant 11+ inch yellow bass that Clear Lake grows.  One of those areas had a swarm of fish on it, we knew we had found something special because the other 3 areas did not have many fish, but the quality was much better.  We ended the day on the "little lake" searching areas that had fish in the previous years.  To my surprise we never saw anything that sparked our attention.  As 3pm rolled around we were off the lake per the tournament rules.  We prepared our rods, reels and baits for the next morning and made sure we had everything charging before we grabbed some dinner.

The morning of the tournament is always a little nerve-racking, the juices were flowing and the both of us could not wait to get our baits in the water at our first spot that contained the most numbers of yellow bass we found on Saturday.  As we drove to our first spot I was pleasantly surprised with no other team being there and nobody following behind us.  It was ours for the taking.  David quickly popped about a dozen holes as I grabbed the Vexilar FLX30 and Jason Mitchell DeadMeat Rod/Quantum Drive reel to begin fishing.  After looking at the first three holes and seeing no movement, I got a little nervous.  However, it was the forth hole that the Vexilar was alive with fish.  I quickly settled in and started to put some yellows on the ice.  The fish were hungry and a jigging spoon was what they wanted.  The both of us spent the next two hours catching fish and drilling more holes to stay on top of fresh fish.  On this particular weekend the yellows were buried in the weeds.  Having the Vexilar FLX30 turned to Medium power at the 180 frequency made all the difference in seeing the fish.  The medium power cut enough of the clutter to show me the active fish and how they were reacting to my jigging cadence.  We ended up with over 30 yellow bass at this first stop, most over the 9-inch mark with a few giants well over 10 inches.  We decided to go try our other areas that had some bigger fish, but not as plentiful.  Over the next hour or so we picked up a few bigger yellow bass to make our limit of 25 a good one.  

I have fished this event eight times, all the way back to when there were over 300 teams at the event.  I knew that today would be another top five finish.  I was a bit surprised that when everyone was done at the scales that we ended up on top with 13.64 pounds of yellow bass.  Friends Chad Angell and Josh Sansgaard were right behind us with 11.58 pounds.  The third place team of Minor/Gavin brought in a total of 5.94 pounds.  It was quite a surprise to end up on top, it was also quite a payday; including prizes valuing around $3,000 for us.  It was one of those rare tournaments that the plan that we had actually came together better than we had hoped.  

The event organizer is probably going to take this event in another direction for 2023.  I hope it isn't the last Yellow Bass tournament at Clear Lake, but if it is, myself and my two partners have had a heck of ride the past eight years.  We have tallied seven top 20 finishes and three in the top 5.  It was awesome to share this event with two great anglers and two great friends; Jacy Large and David Gissel.

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