Phillips and Drake calm fears of a fishless Clear Lake as 2023 California Open wraps Day One
By Jody Only
LAKEPORT, Calif. – As the 11th Annual WON Bass California Open launched onto the waters of Clear Lake – the Big Bass Factory of the West – all eyes were glued to the scales. Anglers and fishing fans alike wondered – would the bigs show out, was the bucket list lake dead, or were the “no bite in three days” claims just fish tales and dock talk?
Nathan Phillips of Cobb, Calif. certainly didn’t find the lake dead. In fact, he and his AAA David Drake of Placentia, Calif., sacked up a five-fish limit that went 28.48. With Phillips’ 6.04 big bass bolstering their bag, each rocketed to the top of the leaderboard on their respective pro and AAA sides.
That wasn’t the only show of strength for the famed big bass fishery. The top trio of teams all crossed the stage with better than a five-pound bass average for their limits.
Brian Coughlin of Lodi, Calif. with AAA Ethan Hammer of Peoria, Ariz. held 27.52 and California anglers, pro Daylon Smith of Frazier Park with AAA Mike Flores Jr. from San Diego closed their Day One with 27.17.
But wait – even those three teams weren’t an anomaly. Not even the top-10 could be breached without breakin’ 20. And, while we haven’t yet seen any double-digits or eight or nine-pounders make an appearance for this year’s event, it does seem that we can put the rumors to rest – at least for now – Clear Lake’s not dead and with the stabilizing air temps, it may even be getting better.
The pro Big Bass leader of Day One is Matthew Dettling of El Macero, Calif. with a 7.47. The only other seven brought up belonged to pro angler John Karayan of Ventura, Calif. Karayan’s came in at 7.13.
Kevin Gross from Redding, Calif. led the Big Bass board for the AAAs with a 6.93 that fell to a Yamamoto Senko.
With two more days of fishing ahead, anglers were tight-lipped about the deets, sharing only a select few elements of their day. The only consistency was a variety of inconsistency with reports from some having a better morning bite, others finding success in the warmth of the afternoon, and a few mid-morning or mid-day mentions. The same held true for the baits – a mix of reaction and finesse, moving and down baits were all whispered at the scales.
More will be revealed at the Day Two weigh-in. Join WON Bass and root for your favorite angler at Library Park in Lakeport, Calif. or online with WON Bass FB Live. First flight weighs at 2 p.m.