By David A. Brown
LAKEPORT, Calif. — Parking on one promising area and thoroughly mining its potential enabled APEX pro Alex Klein of Oroville, Calif. to tally a 2-day total of 39.73 pounds and take over the Day-2 lead of the Wild West Bass Trail on Clear Lake presented by Bridgeford Foods.
On Day 1, Klein caught a limit of 20.39. Today, he added a limit that weighed 19.34.
Committing his day to the Redbud Arm, Klein focused on a 1/4-mile stretch of rocky bank interspersed with isolated grass clumps. He caught fish in a range of 3-8 feet, but he wasn’t able to dial in any pattern.
“The fish like to move around so much, it’s kind of random,” Klein said. “You’re catching them shallow and deeper all throughout the day. I haven’t been able to figure out why they’re using a certain depths in the morning or afternoon.
“I caught some out in deeper grass in the morning and I’ve caught some up shallow in the morning. And the same thing in the afternoon.”
Klein said he believes the habitat mix of rock and grass is providing a good staging area for hungry postspawners. He’s fishing a mix of reaction baits, plastics and a frog.
“On the first day they were very aggressive; I had 20 pounds by 9 o’clock,” Klein said. “Today, it took a little bit longer. The fish weren’t as aggressive and it was a little more of a grind. I had a limit by 8 o’clock, but it took me until 11:30 to get the weight that I had.
“I caught about 15 fish today. It definitely seemed like the better bite was in the morning.”
Noting that he believes the fish are feeding at night, Klein said he’s likely fishing the tail end of their feeding period. Knowing this, he’s focusing on precise casts to high-percentage spots.
“Your casts have to be on target to the clumps of grass you’re seeing,” he said. “You have to pick out the clumpy grass amid the rocks; it can’t be the thin, stringy grass.”
Klein said the key to his success was simply staying focused. He didn’t panic when his day was slower to accelerate; he kept his wits about him and put in the work.
Looking at his Day-3 potential, Klein said: “I’m surprised at how many fish are in this area. There were other boats in there and everyone was catching fish.
“The crazy thing about grass is you never know how many fish it holds. Today, that grass was reloading, so I hope it does again tomorrow.”
Shane Pierson of Roseville, Calif. is in second place with 38.97. Demonstrating impressive consistency, he added a second-round limit of 19.55 to the 19.42 he caught on Day 1.
“I’m fishing south in the Redbud Arm and I have a few things going on,” Pierson said. “I have an early morning crankbait bite; once the sun gets on the water, I’m chasing them with a spinnerbait. Then, later in the day, I’m fishing a frog.”
Pierson said he’s cranking rocky bottom in 8-16 feet. He’s fishing the spinnerbait across points with tules; making long casts and slow rolling it as deep as 15 feet. The frog has worked best on transitions between grass and an algae bloom.
“The biggest thing was fishing the conditions,” Pierson said. “The weather’s changing so much, you just have to adapt.”
Apex pro Luke Johns of Folsom, Calif. stepped up his productivity and bolstered his Day-1 limit of 18.12 with a bigger bag that went 20.68. He now sits in third place with 38.80.
Johns spent his day in the lake’s north end, where he worked three key areas. He threw a topwater frog over a shallow grass mat and fished reaction baits over two different gravel banks with scattered grass. One of those spots produced two fish over 6 pounds.
“I got a few more bites on Day 1, but some of them were smaller fish,” Johns said. “I was using finesse baits part of the time, but today, I went with all reaction baits. I knew I’d catch less, but they’d be better fish.”
Kasey Rhyme is in the lead for Big Bass honors with his 9.26.
Dominic Abenoja of Antioch, Calif. leads the co-angler division with 34.43 pounds. Another consistent angler, he added 17.36 to the 17.07 he weighed on Day 1.
“The key for me was just adapting and changing with the conditions and fishing clean,” Abenoja said. “I was checking my knots with all the big rocks out there and making sure my hooks were sharp.”
Abenoja said he’s using reaction baits and a jig. He opted to keep the details under wraps, but noted that some of what he’s doing is a departure from most of his competitors’ methods.
Josh Cutler holds the Big Bass lead among co-anglers with a 6.32.
Sunday’s takeoff is scheduled for 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time at Library Park. The weigh-in will be held at the park at 3:00 p.m.