Clear Lake is well-known to bass fisherman as the best lake for bass fishing west of the Mississippi and it's often named as one of the top bass fishing lakes in the US. The lake is a great habitat for bass because of its warm, shallow water. Since Clear Lake doesn't freeze over, it's possible to fish any time of year, too.
Bass fishing is best done from a boat although it's possible to catch them from shore, both in the lake and along Cache Creek. Most bass fishermen use rip baits, spinner baits, jerk baits, plastic worms, or lures, one of the most popular being the Paddle Tail. According to Field and Stream Magazine, "The Paddle Tail craze began several years ago when a good majority of the Elite Series field employed the bait at the Bassmaster Clear Lake event. The event was ultimately won by Steve Kennedy who reported catching several of his key fish on the Basstrix Paddle Tail Swimbait."
The annual Clear Lake Team Bass Tournament, held in mid-March, draws bass fishermen from all over California and beyond. Clear Lake's record largemouth bass weighed in at 17.52 pounds.
While bass may be the most popular fish to catch, Clear Lake and Cache Creek are excellent spots for catching catfish, bluegill, crappie, and carp. These fish can easily be caught from shore, making fishing one of the most popular and enjoyable activities at Clear Lake Campground, right on Cache Creek. Catfish are the fish most commonly caught at the campground but campers also catch smaller fish, carp, and sometimes bass from our bank. Even kids have a great time fishing off the bank and hauling in their catch! There's a fish cleaning station right by the pier too so it's easy to clean your fish if you don't want to throw them back.
You don't need any special lures for these fish either, night crawlers or small minnows are good for bluegill, crappie, and catfish. Catfish will bite on other things too including crawdads, chicken liver, mackerel, and even hot dogs. It's not uncommon for catfish to weigh close to 20 pounds. Catfish Derby winners range from 22.24 to 24.87 pounds. Just remember that catfish have prickly spines so it's best to wear gloves when you handle them.
The annual Catfish Derby, held in May, is billed as the "largest catfish tournament west of the Mississippi".
Clear Lake Campground is the perfect place to spend lazy days fishing, watching ducks swim by or birds flying overhead, and enjoying the peaceful view of Anderson Marsh right across the creek. Our store stocks live night crawlers and frozen bait including mackerel, sardines, chicken liver, anchovies, and clams. We also sell hooks and weights but for bigger items and more selection, Clearlake Bait and Tackle is just 2.5 miles away at 14699 Lakeshore.
So just book your campsite and bring your pole - we'll be waiting for you!
Remember that you do need a fishing license to fish, even for a day. You can get one online from California Department of Fish and Wildlife or buy one in town at Clearlake Bait and Tackle.
If you'd like to spend a day with a fishing guide, you'll find several listed on Clear Lake Fishing.
More Activities to Enjoy at Clear Lake Campground:
Martha Bakerjian is a travel writer who divides her time between Clearlake and northern Tuscany. She writes about Italy on her site, Martha's Italy.
Where to Go
From the launching ramp at Clear Lake Campground turn right and continue on Cache creek with your back to the highway.
Our itinerary takes you into a marsh, past a blue heron rookery, and out into the lake where a stand of tules hosts a clamorous array of red-winged, tri-colored and yellow-headed blackbirds. Amongst the cottonwoods, valley oaks, California
buckeye, California bay, and native California black walnut that line the creek you'll see plenty of birds, and in late April and into May you'll likely encounter large carp mating noisily in the shadows and you might come upon turtles sunning themselves on low branches and rocks. Optionally, you can paddle a bit more to have a bite to eat at The Spot, a local burger joint that has a pier and dock where you can tie up your kayak and eat very fine burgers and other fine sandwiches on the patio.
Let's take a look at the Map:
If you're wondering what the distances for the itinerary might be, it's approximately 2.75 miles to The Spot, 1.9 miles to Indian Island.
Freshwater Marsh Birds
Riparian Woodland Birds You Might See
Great Blue Herons, Red-shouldered hawks, great horned owls, Anna’s hummingbirds, American crows, wood ducks, phainopepla, golden eagles, and northern orioles thrive in Riparian Woodland.
Enjoy your kayak trip. Don't let go of that camera.
Spring is a beautiful time to come to Clear Lake. The hills are green, water in the lake is high, and fishing is usually good.
Then there's the kayaking. Oh, the kayaking!
This isn't the place that sinewy, unshaven, and fearless men shoot through rapids and torpedo down waterfalls. Kayaking Clear Lake--especially along Cache Creek, can be a family affair. In spring the water is at its highest, and the flow out the dam is just enough to give you some exercise as you paddle towards the lake. On the return you can drift lazily if you wish, gazing at the great blue herons, blindingly white egrets, and, if you are lucky, Clear Lake's famed white pelicans that can fill the sky, long vees of them turning from white to silver and back again as they bank into the wind.
Smaller birds are more easily heard than seen; they fill the air with songs city dwellers probably haven't heard before.
But here's the thing about springtime along Cache Creek. When the water is high (and as I write it's very high) you can duck into places with your kayak that you can't get into at other times of the year. Anderson Marsh is flooded, leaving reedy expanses for you to explore and get lost within. You need to have a good sense of direction to avoid getting helplessly lost, but have no fear, you are hemmed in by mountain slopes planted with vineyards, blossoming walnut trees and orchards of Bartlett pears.
If you are a visual person, you might enjoy a little video we've made with an old cell phone. It starts along the main creek, then heads toward the marsh and out again as we drift past the colorful trees just awakening from their winter slumber.
Remember, you can rent kayaks, canoes, or small motor boats right at Clear Lake Campground...
book a boat rental now.
James Martin is a travel writer who scribbles mostly about European places. He spends half his year in Italy, and writes the Wandering Italy Blog from the part of Tuscany nobody knows: The Lunigiana.
Martha Bakerjian is a part-time employee at Clear Lake Campground and writes a web site about Italy: