Fishing is My Day Job

Bill Ryan and his grandson, Jack, caught 83 Clear Lake bass last week.

Here’s Why Bassmaster Magazine…ranked our own Clear Lake fourth out of their Top 100 bass waters for 2019.

“It’s hard to believe that California’s largest natural lake, ranked best in the state by DFW senior environmental scientist Kyle Murphy, can be even better this year. But it is. There were 34 fish over 5 pounds weighed at the WON Bass California Open in April, indicating that it still takes limits of big fish to finish high in the standings. The winner had 15 largemouth for 89.27 pounds that included the 11.74 pound tournament big fish…”.

BTW: Clear Lake ranked third best in both 2018 and 2017—so it is consistently highly ranked by the pros. And, the good news is that Google says we live just 54.5 miles from the Fifth Street Launch Ramp in Lakeport.

Watch out for the catch question about lake size. Lake Tahoe is bigger but half of it is in Nevada.

Here’s What I Know About Clear Lake… based on 30 years of fishing there. It delivers big largemouth bass all year long. I have caught and released four 10-pounders at Clear Lake—ranging in seasons from a cold and rainy early spring day to a hot and sunny June day. The top fish, 10.1 pounds caught on a top water Rico popper came this year on Sept. 4 at 6:45 a.m. in a calm little pool under a tree on a tiny island in mid lake.

You gotta watch that line like a hawk. If you see it flattening out, that big brute is motoring up to the surface to jump out of the water and try to throw that lure. Shove your rod right down all the way into the water to keep the bass from surfacing. That creates problem two: give him any slack line and he’s gone. Lots to do when you hook up a big one? Listen to your guide—and pay attention to the details.

Fast forward to Dec. 3 and 4 when Stan Press and I had an epic fishing adventure on Clear Lake. In just 10 hours of “bait in the water” fishing over two days we caught and released 122 bass and 4 catfish. That’s an average of a fish on every 5 minutes—incredible for winter fishing.

Stan led the way with the boxcar numbers—first last and most. I hooked an 8-pound brute for top size. We were using live jumbo minnows in 25 feet of water on a 50-yard stretch of a 100-yard cove that our pro guide, Bob Myskey, had checked out the day before. It was full of birds who were pushing the bait fish up against the bank.

The bass came to dine. They never left—and neither did we.

Does It Get Better?… It sure did when my Jan. 7 and 8 partner was my grandson Jack Ryan. This was cold weather winter fishing with air temperatures in the high 20’s early—maxing out to the high 40’s later in the day.

Water temperature was in the high 40’s. Damn cold when running down lake on the big motor at 45 mph. But, once again, guide Bob Myskey took us to another magic spot where we caught and released 83 fat largemouth bass on live jumbo minnows. A different location but similar to the December trip.

This time we fished another 50-yard stretch in a longer cove but in that same 25-foot depth. Jack was out front early on day one—he beat the crap out of me with the first and last fish—and most fish. I struggled to stay in the game but did manage to catch the biggest at just under 7 pounds. The bite is so incredibly light that you won’t ever hook a fish if you don’t keep a tight line to the bait—and pay full attention to the rod tip. Feel for the slightest weight on the line—and maybe a little jiggle. Don’t rush; bass hang on to live baits longer. Then, wind down to improve your setting leverage and give the rod a firm sweep; keep it back until you control the fish.

Then reel it in for Bob’s net operation. Sounds like a lot to do—yep. But practice and experience “slows down the action for you” and lets you manage it.

Jack is a fine angler. Over the years I have fished with him in little farm ponds for bluegills, at Clear Lake a dozen years ago and on Alaska’s famous Copper River for wild rainbows and sockeye salmon on a fly. Jack caught and released a dandy 21-inch trout to lead the way on that adventure.

In 1939, Baseball Hall of Famer, Lou Gehrig famously said, “ I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” I feel the same way because I have had the marvelous chance for fish with my son, Alex, and his two sons, Jack and David over the years that we have all lived in Napa valley. With more to come.

Why Pro Guide Bob Myskey?… Ya get to know a guide when you fish with him over 15 years—maybe for a total of 70 to 80 days.

Here’s what I expect from a professional guide—starting with when he motors up to the ramp: boat in the water and ready to go well before the agreed to start time. A clean truck and windshield. A clean and orderly boat. Proper dry seating and storage for our extra clothing and lunch bags. Appropriate gear on deck and ready to fish. Required safety equipment and a full fuel tank. A quick orientation about our first stop—then under way at the appointed time.

How does he handle novice our young anglers (this is one of Bob’s strengths—making them comfortable and getting them fishing without too much drama). The good guides have a plan. It may need several changes in location and even more changes in lures, bait or systems. Bob just keeps changing to meet different circumstances to max our success and enjoyment.

Can you still have a tough day? Sure, it’s called fishing, not catching—and I’ve never come away from a trip blaming the guide.

Does this sound like a full page ad in Outdoor Life for Bob. Not really. I have had a chance to see him in action and measure him against dozens of other guides I have fished with over the years. I hope to convince you that I’m not looking for a “freebie” from Bob for giving him some good ink. I pay him retail just like you will. How could you trust my recommendations for goods and services if you thought I was getting spiffed to make them.

So, take your kids bass fishing on Clear Lake with Bob Myskey (349-4460). Take a look at his very complete web site (www.fishclearlake.com ). Then be sure to send me photos of your catch for this column. Thanks in advance.

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