Bragging Rights: Ed Pierce

Ed Pierce cracks the Clear Lake Crappie Code.

Clear Lake News… has switched emphasis from largemouth bass to crappie this winter. Lots of these tasty critters all over the lake. They are big, at over 2 pounds and over a foot and a half long. The daily catch limit is 25 crappie per person.

The first ever Clear Lake Crappie Tournament is on deck for Jan. 26 and the 50-boat field is already sold out, so chief organizer Ed Legan (702-497-8938) is already planning the new one – bigger and better – on Feb. 23 with an enlarged field of 75 boats. Sign up lakeportbaitandtackle.com. See below for phone entries.

  • Entry fee per team is $60. Based on a full flight of 75 boats, the 100-percent payout will result in a top prize of $1,000 all the way down to $200 for 10th place.
  • Full entry fee will include “big fish option” at $10 plus insurance and permitting fee of $5, totaling $75. Add $3 to your order by phone using your credit card.
  • Phone entries – Call Clearlake Outdoors (707-282-5852); total cost is $78 per team.
  • Tournament launch is on Feb. 23 at 7 a.m., with weigh-in at 2 p.m.
  • Lake is off limits on Friday, Feb. 22.
  • Location is Lakeport’s 5th Street boat ramp, off Main Street.
  • Ten-fish limit; 12-inch minimum length; no dead fish will be weighed.
  • All fish will be released back into the lake.

Look At These… big Clear Lake crappie caught by Ed Pierce fishing with pro guide Bob Myskey (274-0373) on Sunday. Forever as a kid, we caught all manner of “sunfish,” including crappie. Never saw them this big. They were often described as “hand-sized,” but these big Clear Lake brutes are arm-sized.

And On Berryessa, Too… Dave Hurley’s Monday Hot Sheet told us that the crappie bite was also hot on Berryessa. Target the northern portion of the lake with small swim baits at depths from 40 to 50 feet. It is disappointing that rogue anglers cheat on limits, instead of giving everyone a chance to catch a legal limit of 25.

Dave reported that the California Department of Fish & Wildlife has cited several anglers for over-limits within the past week. Poachers catch legal limits of 25 per person, hide them in an ice chest back at their vehicles, and then head out for another 25. That’s not sportsmanship – that’s cheating.

Water, Water… everywhere. It rained Tuesday and even harder on Wednesday, so what does that mean for my water measurements update? Have a look:

  • Sulphur Creek was flowing rapidly Tuesday, across its full channel, its color toggling between chocolate brown and chicken soup. But it speaks to us: plenty of water in the watershed right now, and we’re sending some good eating bugs down to the Napa River to entice more big sturgeon to come up into town.
  • Clear Lake’s Rumsey Gauge:

Base: Dec. 5 = 1.10 feet

Now: Jan. 5 = 2.50 feet

Note: That additional 1.4 feet of water is significant when you consider that it covers 68 square miles of lake surface.

  • JED Station on the Smith River:

Depth-Base: Dec. 5 = 6.51 feet

Now: Jan. 15 = 7.95 feet

Note: On Dec. 19, depth was 10.55 feet after a big rain.

Flow—Base: Dec. 5 = 1,289 cubic feet per second

Now: Jan. 15 = 2,500 cfs

Note: On Dec. 19, the flow was 7,030 cfs – after a big rain.

Let’s Remember Next Christmas… to see if our Christmas trees can be used as fish habitat in 2020. Travel writer, David Ferry (travel@sfchronicle.com) just told us that the CDFW will sink around 200 or so old firs and spruces into state-managed waters up north. He went on to say that “it’s a move, ecologists say, that will create valuable fish habitat – and boost fishing too.”

Old timers on the docks have been doing this for years, because it works. Baitfish like to hide in, and be protected by, the tree branches. Predator bass hear these tasty morsels in the trees and attack them. Anglers find the trees and catch the assembled bass. Leading to Step 4: “Fire up the BBQ.”

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Email Bill Ryan at acorn_3@comcast.net.