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Winter Bass Fishing… on Clear Lake – a full report: Stan Press and I fished for largemouth bass with pro guide Bob Myskey. We fished for largemouth bass this past Tuesday and Wednesday. Water temperatures were in the 50-degree range, and so was the air temperature. Nice and sunny on Tuesday but overcast with light sprinkles Wednesday.

I have winter fished with Bob and a bunch of my favorite fishing partners over the years because we fish with live jumbo minnows that get those big bass and catfish in a biting mood. In shallow water, 10 feet and less, under a bobber (this system is great fun for novice anglers because they can see the bobber jump around as the bass chases the minnow). And over 10 feet drop-shot rigged.

And the count please? In 10 hours of actual “bait in the water” fishing over two days, we caught and released 122 largemouth bass plus four catfish. That’s an average of a fish caught every five minutes. Biggest bass came Tuesday early when I caught an 8-pounder. Stan had a 5.5-pounder and there were a couple of more 5-pound-range bass with plenty in the 3- and 4-pound category.

Certainly our best five bass would have equaled 25 pounds, which can get you into the money in lot of pro bass fishing tournaments around the country. The catfish ranged from 11 to 18 pounds and are brutes to bring to the net. Imagine, the lake record catfish went over 30 pounds. Bob found us a cove that harbored a huge amount of baitfish that held the bass there for two days. You can tell when baitfish are present—hundreds of birds flock to the spot for a daily banquet. They stayed, and so did we.

Why So Much “Ink”… on Clear Lake trips? It has been my “home lake” for more than 30 years and it holds trophy-size largemouth bass. I have caught and released four 10-pounders there – the latest just this summer, when Bob put us on a pod of aggressive bass at mid lake that just wanted to eat our Rico poppers. Stan and I caught 11 on top water in 45 minutes in a stretch of less than 100 yards. Bassmaster Magazine’s 2019 bass lake “Top 100 Bass Waters In America” rates Clear Lake No. 4 out of 100.

Does Bob put all of his clients on to 100 fish trips every time? Nope. But he brings years of tournament fishing and guiding experience to every trip. Your kids will love him; he has fished three generations of Ryan’s. Call him at 349-4460 for a dandy Holiday gift certificate and a bass trip for yourself, too.

Better Go Fish For… your Dungeness crab pretty soon. The commercial season has been officially delayed until Dec. 15. But if testing proves that it can be opened sooner, the Department of Fish and Wildlife is free to do so. Those limits-all-around-combo recreational crab trips will have to compete with the commercial boats that can sweep up a bunch of crabs fast.

Call your favorite captain and book a trip. Those I watch are Captain Rick Powers on Bodega Bay’s New Sea Angler (875-3344) for big party boats, and Captain Craig Hanson on The Argo six-pack out of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf (415-361-7757). The refitted Argo is the perfect boat for a family trip, or office refresher. You play captain and Craig does all the work.

December Is The Time… to get geared up for the wild steelhead fishing on the Smith River up in Crescent City. That run of the Smith goes through the Jedediah Smith Wilderness. In an earlier report I called it God’s Country. Steep granite cliffs covered with evergreens define the river. Little wisps of fog cling to indents along the way. It is God’s Country.

How about fish? Stan Press caught and released a 20-pound steelhead when we fished with pro river guide Kevin Brock years ago. Getting a trophy-size fish like this to the boat in a fast running river takes perfect teamwork. The angler has to keep the fish under control while the guide finds a spot where he can stop the boat. Then, the final act is bringing that silver bullet to the net. You recall that as the line shortens, it loses full flexibility and is much easier to break off.

Call Kevin at 800 995-5543 to book a trip. Tell him Ryan sent you – he has fished three generations of Ryans, too. Go for two days; it’s too long a ride to go up for just one day of fishing. Stay at the Ship Ashore Motel, where your room will have a complete kitchen ready for you to cook supper – and hot oatmeal for breakfast. It is cold up there. I wear six layers to stay warm. A thermos of hot chocolate helps a lot when you are shivering on the water about 9 a.m.

Closer To Home… we are sending that chocolate brown water down the Napa River to you from our up-valley creeks. You know that is a dinner bell bringing in sturgeon right up to town. Plenty of little critter who live in the muddy banks all summer get washed down—and the sturgeon await. Early in a new season bait and tackle shops are “news central”. Sweeney’s Sports on Imola is mine. Call them at 255-5544.

In The Salt… Pretty tough weather conditions this past weekend kept most local fleets tied up. There still are stripers biting in San Pablo Bay—as well as the Delta. Listen to this nice striper catch in Snodgrass Slough by Alan Fong of Sacramento’s Fishermen’s Warehouse – reported in the Monday Hot Sheet. “I was in Snodgrass Slough, and there was no grass up there. I caught and released 8 striped bass to 10 pounds on top water lure, and I lost a larger one.”

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