By David A. Brown
LAKEPORT, Calif. — Timing is key for bass fishermen and Keith Hurney’s decision to stick it out a little longer on his key spot helped him amass a 5-bass limit of 25.39 pounds that leads Day 1 of the the Wild West Bass Trail Clear Lake Pro-Am presented by Ford Fairfield.
Fishing the State Park area, Hurney targeted prespawn fish in about 3-8 feet of water. He surmised that the fish were staging in this area to feed before making their spawning movement. He knew these waters held the potential he needed, but a disappointing start nearly derailed his day.
“There was a little bit of grass and the fish were holding around little patches,” Hurney said. “We had a little flurry around 9:30 that lasted for about half an hour and we caught them pretty good.
“The morning started slower than I would have liked. I was almost getting ready to bail and then they started biting. When it happened, it happened quick.”
Hurney said he tried to stay 20-30 yards off his spots and use Lowrance ActiveTarget to pick out isolated cover. Making long cast was essential to avoid spooking his fish.
Hurney said that Clear Lake’s lower water level prevented him from fishing a lot of the spots he’d normally target. He said he was happy to find the fish he caught today, but a lot of anglers witnessed his catches and with a later Day-2 flight, he’s concerned that his area will be covered by the time he arrives.
“I caught 23 pounds off my starting spot and later in the morning, I ran down south to the Redbud Arm and fished deep rock,” Hurney said. “I made a good cull down there and then I just ran around a prefished for tomorrow.”
Hurney caught his fish on a mix of baits, including a 1/2-ounce Heavy Hitter Custom Baits bladed jig fitted with a Yamamoto Zako trailer. He also caught fish on a 4.3 Keitech Swing Impact Fat on a swimbait head, a 3/8-ounce Blade-Runner Tackle Spin Trix underspin 3/8 with a 4.3 Keitech Swing Impact Fat and a Lucky Craft LV 500 lipless bait.
“I struggled later in the day; I’m not sure if it was just a lull, but it has me a little worried about tomorrow,” Hurney said. “I have to see if I can crack another 20 and make it to Sunday’s final round.”
Jason Newby of Glennville, Calif. is in second place with 23.69. Spending his day in the Redbud Arm, he targeted rocky bottom near spawning flats and caught his fish in about 15 feet of water.
Newby made a milk run of five spots within a mile area. Two spots ended up producing most of his weight. He caught all of his fish on crankbaits that he custom paints in shad patterns.
“My retrieve cadence was the key; they wanted it faster today,” Newby said. “I could have used more wind today, but tomorrow is supposed to be windier.”
APEX pro John Pearl of Upper Lake is in third place with 23.42. Having grown up on Clear Lake’s north end, he fished the shallow, muddy areas with which he’s most comfortable.
“Before cutoff, I found two weed patches in 5-6 feet of water, about three miles from one another,” Pearl said. “The key was turning off my graphs. I only run one graph for waypoints. In that shallow water, the fish hear everything and if there are (several) boats in the area and they’re all using their graphs, it shuts the fish down.”
With his boat sitting in 7 feet, Pearl would cast shallow with a GCJ Custom Glidebait in a carp color and a rotation of five different rattlebaits. His first spot produced most of his weight, but Pearl made one good cull on his second location.
Juan Acosta of Tracy, Calif. is in the lead for Big Bass honors with his 7.81.
Troy Mays of Ione, Calif. leads the co-angler division with 25.17. Turning in a performance that was less than a 1/4 pound behind Hurney’s, Mays said he experienced a special day with tremendous opportunity.
“There were waves of fish that came through from about 8:30-10:30 and then again around noon,” Mays said. “There were just a lot of fish and they were in there to eat.
“There were baitfish boiling here and there. I couldn’t see what (the bass) were feeding on, but my pro (fifth-place Beau Joudrey) said that in practice, one of his fish spit up a good size hitch.”
Mays caught all of his fish in the mid-lake area by throwing reaction baits on the edge of a flat next to the deep water drop off. Joudrey had found this area in practice and parking there all day proved to be a wise decision.
Jay Guterding of Redding, Calif holds the Big Bass lead among co-anglers with a 7.77.
Saturday’s takeoff is scheduled for 7 a.m. Pacific Time at Library Park. The weigh-in will be held at the park at 3:10 p.m.