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Fishing through the algae bloom at Clear Lake with Hi’s Tackle

Date: 9/2/09
Location: Clear Lake, California
Event Dates: August 29th, 2009
Reviewer: Zander

With all the gloom and doom reported by the regional news about the so called “Toxic algae blooms” at Clear Lake we decided it was time to see just how the recent blooms would affect the fishing at the lake. We were invited by Jonah Li, owner of Hi’s Tackle Box in San Francisco to join him and fish the lake. Jonah grew up fishing Clear Lake and had previously experienced similar algae blooms in the past and had experience adapting quickly to catch fish.

Jonah Li the Owner of Hi's Tackle Box in San Francisco invited us out to challenge the algae bloom at Clear Lake

The Clear Lake Algae Bloom: The regional news had a field day with the recent algae bloom and reported headlines including “toxic algae bloom kills everything” and “Clear Lake’s has never been this bad.” At the same time they provided visuals of docks and shorelines completely inundated with thick algae and even dead fish floating amongst the algae mattes.

Cal runs tries to get on plane through the algae slick

It was a grim picture indeed and one that has kept many vacationers, boaters and anglers away from the lake at the end of the summer. When I saw the images on the television the first thing I thought was that there would be less pressure on the main lake as long as the algae hadn’t completely taken over.

We survey the lake for clearer waters

Algae has always been part of Clear Lake and there have been times when I have fished the lake when there was plenty of algae in the water, certainly not to the same extent that was being reported in the news, but certainly enough algae to affect fishing. The algae blooms do offer some benefits to the lake including helping balance out the ecosystem and preventing too much light from reaching the bottom which can also cause excessive weed growth. Unfortunately too much of anything can be a bad thing and certain algae types can bloom in such intensity that they become trapped on the surface and die. This process is what causes the algae to give off a foul odor.

Finally more fishable water that we can get lures through

This year areas like the Keys and Clearlake Oaks experienced such a bloom, causing docks and whole cuts to be choked off with thick algae. Boat traffic and spraying to break up the algae helps but the task is an immense one. Certain ramps were closed due to low water levels and thick algae but for the most part the lake remains very accessible from all the major launches. Though we knew the algae bloom was certainly going to be a factor we jumped at the opportunity to fish the lake with Jonah and his team at Hi’s Tackle Box.

Jonah catches quality fish while Zander catches dinks

Time to fish the green water: When we drove up to the south side of the lake we encountered the smell of breaking down algae when we came close to thick mattes. The odor is unpleasant but bearable, and just a quarter mile away the odor is almost non-existent. If you’re downwind of thick mattes it isn’t pleasant but it certainly wasn’t as bad as what was being reported. Maybe it was just the angler in me but less traffic on the lake equated to less pressure, and I was even more excited to get on the water. Jonah prepared two Rangers for the event and we brought our own Skeeter as well. As we launched we did notice the algae clinging to our white hulled boat immediately. We decided to make a quick survey of the south side of the lake to see just what we were dealing with. Cal ran one of our TT Skeeter and we were joined by Jonah’s friend Scott who was running a Ranger Z21.

Cal holds a dink next to the soon to be released Mattlures bass swimbait

The algae proves to be a challenge









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