Updated: Feb 15
The water at Clearlake has always been shallow. Even with its over 4000 surface acres, the water in the largest natural California lake is only an average of about 60 feet deep. However, with the recent drought lasting several years, the water in the lake has become very shallow near docks and shores, prompting several of the lake's prominent boat launches to shut down and anglers trying to stay up to date with current fishing reports.
The higher water level means better bass fishing conditions going into springtime. Currently, the water at Clearlake is .52 feet on the Rumsey Gauge. .52 feet means that the lake is now out of the negative territory it was sitting at for much of the fall. Clearlake fishing report in Lake County is better than it has been in almost a year!
The weather has been phenomenal since New Year's, except for the occasional wind storm. Clearlake fishing for some big fish should be getting better this month if rains continue. Reports of crappie and bass bites from reaction baits are increasing with more action intensifying as January changes over to February.
How is Water at Clearlake Measured?
Clearlake is historically measured using a system that is differnt from other lakes. The reference point of Clearlake water levels is measured in “Rumsey Gauge” and requires some background information to understand.
For much of the fall in 2021, Clearlake was at a negative Rumsey water level. Zero Rumsey is equal to 1,318.257 feet above sea level, so a lake considered full on the Rumsey Gauge would measure 7.56 feet.
Clearlake water level is made possible by the Cache Creek Dam, built-in 1914. Yolo County controls the flow and has been responsible for keeping the lake water level from Zero to 7.56 feet.
How is the Fishing in Clearlake, CA?
Clearlake's warm, deepwater and abundant nutrients make for suitable habitats for bass and other aquatic species. Some experts consider Clearlake the best bass fishing lake in America. Bassmaster magazine even named the large lake the best bass fishery in the past decade. Live bait and lures can both produce a few fish at Clearlake. Even with the low water levels, 2022 looks to be a very good year for tournament bass fishing.
The low water conditions of late 2021 at Clearlake made fishing in shallow water difficult for anglers. But, with the recent rains, there has been an increase in bites from both bass and crappie using Alabama Rigs with underspin's and a swimbait trailer to draw the bass even in shallow conditions.
Fishing Clearlake is never a bad time. The lake is gorgeous, with a diverse ecosystem of warm water temp fish and fowl. It also has many different entry points around its Upper Arm, Clearlake Oaks Arm, and Lower Arm regions. These various boat launches give anglers a variety of places to try their luck.
Clearlake is the oldest natural lake in California. It's suitable for bass fishing all year, and it yields more bass between 3 - 7 pounds than most other popular bass fishing lakes. Another remarkable fact is that the lake was formed in an ancient volcanic crater. It is overseen by the stunning sight of Mt. Konocti, the dormant volcano cone. Although the water clarity is never great, the views around the lake are stunning.
The lake also provides over 200,000 crawdads to the bass for the entire year providing good protein and healthy fish hatchery conditions. Hitch, shag, blue, and silver minnow are other important forages for bass on Clearlake! Use of blue and silver Gulp! and twitch minor lures are great for shallower areas to imitate the bass’ natural food.
Fish caught with live bait is more likely to be channel catfish which are bigger fish but less sought after. The last report from an early January big tournament by NewJen Bass stated that many of the bass are still at deep depths in the lake. It will still be another month or so until the bass season is in full swing and the lake level is at a higher point.
Fish caught near the shores is an important part of bass fishing tournaments, since many anglers rely on a catch near the shoreline when bass are feeding at their favorite location. A bite in the shallow shoreline is a great start to the day and can keep tournament goers from having to use their big motors to go a long way for quality bites in one area.
Best Times and Gear for Bass Fishing at Clearlake
Since the bass fishing season is open all year round, largemouth bass gets caught all over Clearlake throughout the year. However, some places and times of year are better for reeling in trophy fish.
Springtime is the best time for catching largemouth bass in Clearlake because of the spawning season when fish are more active. The warm waters of spring and summer are the active months for bass spawning. Spring and summer are times of the year when shallower water lures, poppers, and jigs are working for the best bass fishing.
When water is cold in the winter months, largemouth spends much of their time in deep waters. Casting jigs and worms at deep depths with prolonged action are suitable for these colder waters.
Once the water warms with the spring months, the bass comes up and into more shallow waters off points, around underground humps, and near leading creek edges.
As the weather and water temperature heats up in March, the bass comes up to shallow water, looking for food. Warmer water months would be the best time for bass fishing with some reaction lures like spinnerbaits and crankbaits and even frogging floaters through sparse water grass.
Aggressive bass are sure to be around in the early spring months of March and certainly as the spawning heats up in April. Early in the season, Clearlakes colder water temperature may require slow and deep lures away from shore or underwater humps.
Clearlake Average Monthly Water Temperatures
Is Clearlake Open for Fishing?
There was an internet rumor going around during the fall that the lake was closed to all boating and even shore fishing. This rumor was never confirmed, and since the December rains, the lake is in much better condition to support boat launching and shore fishing than before.
Clearlake is currently open for some of the best bass fishing in the west. Tournaments are available starting in January and usually run until the end of summer and even into the fall. These tournaments coincide with the California bass fishing season which is open all year round and peaks in the early spring months.
Some of the docks were inaccessible during the fall and this made it nearly impossible to launch a boat. The Lakeport city boat ramp was closed for some time. However, the lake itself was never closed for boating or fishing. It was open all along and now all boat ramps remain open and accessible.
Some of the most popular Clearlake boat launches include:
Clearlake State Park: A state park with a well-maintained fishing dock and ramp that is open to the public. Make sure that you have your Quagga mussel sticker or you will be fined. Lake County law is a $20 per vessel sticker showing your boat is screened.
Clearlake Oaks Boat Launch: This boat launch and the park are open to the public. Located on the Northwest side of the lake, the boat launch also has a great harbor for storing boats.
Redbud Park: Another free boat launch, this one also requires you to have your quagga sticker before entry. There is also a small baseball field and picnic area on site.
Third Street Launching Facility: A great launch with a downtown park, restaurants, and a newly remodeled promenade.
Fish Clearlake with NewJen Bass for an Unforgettable Experience
Clearlake has delighted boaters and anglers for generations and fishing tournaments are nothing new. However, NewJen Bass is a Bass fishing tournament that prides itself on integrity, organized weigh-ins and registration, and a welcoming atmosphere for teams, professionals, and amateurs alike.
Fishing Clearlake with NewJen Bass is a great experience because the rules and regulations are clearly stated and enforced to maintain safety and fun. Safety precautions are taken at launch and throughout the day of the tournament. NewJen Bass also has some of the best prizes in the western bass fishing world including tens of thousands of dollars and brand new boats.
With the season starting this month, don’t wait any longer to get registered for the 2022 NewJen Bass fishing season. This could be the year that you have a great day and end up on the podium for all to see.
Don’t settle for those bass fishing tournaments that cut corners and are trustworthy. NewJen Bass has run a tight ship for years awarding hundreds of thousands in cash prizes and earning praise from seasoned journalists and anglers. Make sure you check out the NewJen Bass fishing season schedule and get signed up today so that you can live the experience for yourself!