Saturday, March 26, 2022

The "NEW" Clear Lake

This past ice fishing season was one of the best in recent years for me.  I was able to explore four new areas that I have never iced fished and came away with some good days on those bodies of water.  If you have followed me at all during ice fishing season you know that Clear Lake is not new to me, I have fished up there for a decade or so, but until recently it seems like a new lake to me and many ice anglers around the state.

Clear Lake has gone through a biological shift in the past couple of years.  There are not days of 100's of yellow bass being caught and harvested anymore.  Going to Clear Lake to chase down Yellow Bass on the snowmachine was my favorite thing to do just a few years ago, this year and last were quite different.  I did chase the Yellow Bass for one weekend, during the annual Yellow Bass Bonanza tournament, and David Gissel and I ended up winning that event, however things were not like they were in the past.  Clear Lake has changed and if anglers change their modes and tactics they can still love to fish Clear Lake too.  

I took two more trips to Clear Lake after the tournament, however it wasn't to chase down a bucket of Yellow Bass.  The biosphere, or makeup of the lake is transforming, and has been for a few years.  Does this make it a bad place to fish?  No, if you are willing to change with the times and broaden your scope of the lake, you can have some awesome days of pulling in fish too.  Crappies, white bass, and walleyes now rule the lake and are well worth the trip.  With the new lineup of species to fish ,tactics and baits have become a total over haul for me.  Spikes and minnow heads now rule the bait selection, as well as larger jigs and spoons for all three of the above mentioned species.  Yellow bass still provide some cut bait on the spoons when available.  I am not a biologist, however the biggest change to this lake seems to be the weed growth in the "Big Lake".  Weeds are a fishes friend for so many reasons; cover for young, ambush points, cover for adults, and a constant food source.  The crappies and walleyes have thrived with this new addition to Clear Lake.  To be successful you must fish the weeds, in the weeds, around the weeds and above the weeds will have aggressive fish chasing down your bait.

Each time when visiting Clear Lake after the Yellow Bass Bonanza I had 3-5 other people fishing with me.  I am a huge proponent in "party" fishing at this lake, the flats are vast and even the steep drop-offs are huge.  Covering water is so important at this lake, and there is no doubt that the more Vexilars you have down the holes the more fish you will find and catch.  Party Fishing is a great way to hunt down the "new" roaming species that now dominate Clear Lake.  While chasing Yellow Bass the last couple of years we have stumbled across some great crappies, white bass, and walleyes.  Never did I think I would visit Clear Lake to catch these species but the time is now, and next winter will only be better for these three species.  

If you were disappointed with Clear Lake or saw way too many negative posts on social media about the lake this winter...put it on your list for next winter.  Do not fish it like you have in the past for yellow bass, yet go at it with a fresh look for Crappies, Walleyes and White Bass, all three make great table fare and will have your drag singing!

Several 13+ inch crappies were found and released back to Clear Lake.
Keep the lake great by doing the same and following the DNR walleye slot law.

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