Outdoor / Fishing

Thursday, Feb 14 2013 06:00 PM

Steve Merlo: Bass action sizzles at Bass Lake

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By The Bakersfield Californian

Known primarily as a summer resort area, Bass Lake, located an hour north of Fresno and just east of Highway 41, has surfaced to be one of the premier spotted bass fisheries in the state. Spots, introduced into many of California's irrigation reservoirs because of their propensity to spawn at deeper depths during drawdown, have blossomed to include most all-tackle world records for the specie.

This hard-fighting member of the black bass family rarely reaches the average size of its cousin, the largemouth, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in its spirited fight. Most anglers meeting the fish for the first time are absolutely amazed at the pulling and staying power of such a usually-diminutive fish. A 13-inch spot, for instance, fights like a 2- or 3-pound largemouth, and its penchant for eating small baits makes it the perfect light-tackle quarry.

When my longtime friend Daryl Lamonica, the former Oakland Raiders quarterback, called to say the fish were biting, my wife Candy and I jumped at the opportunity to sample the action. Using 4-and 5-pound lines, Shimano reels and light G.Loomis 720 spinning rods, the three of us found incredibly good fishing at the 3,200-foot elevation impoundment. The main difference, however, between Bass Lake and many other lakes in the region, was the surprising quality of the fish.

Bass fishermen, take note. Our 40 bass ranged from 2 to 6-plus pounds each, with the average spot running about 3 pounds and only two less than 15 inches long. During our half-day sojourn, we landed and released six fish over the 4-pound mark with two well over 6 pounds.

The fish pounded our four-inch, eighth-ounce dart heads in the 28-to-32-foot ranges on main lake points and deeper creek channels found throughout the lake. Long, drawn-out fights over deep water were the rule, and only when the fish were completely exhausted could we draw them to the net.

Bass Lake harbors many different species of game fish. During our short stay, we added trout, large crappie, and 10 largemouth bass to 3 pounds to our "caught" list. Lamonica also told plenty of stories about monster catfish, bluegill and Kokanee Salmon swimming in the clear waters, all eager to attack an angler's bait or lures. During the day, we only saw two other boats and only a smattering of shore fishermen.

For more information on were to stay and how to get there, go to www.basslake.com.

Hunter safety course

Kern Shooting Sports still has 30 internet course spots open for its Hunter Education Class on March 11. Contact Jay Busby (661) 871-9025.

'Let's go Fishing' class

There's still time to sign up for the beginner's "Let's Go Fishing" class intended for retiring baby boomers over 50 years old and brought to you by the Levan Institute of Life Long Learning. Held at Bakersfield College on Tuesday, Feb. 19, the class will teach basic local fishing techniques. Learn to tie knots, spool reels, locate fish, choose the correct rod and reel and a lot more. To sign up, contact Miriam by 11 a.m. at (661) 395-4431 or e-mail her at mvalenzu@bakersfieldcollege.com.

Sporting clay shoots

Several noteworthy events are on the shooting slate Saturday.

The American Welding Society's Winter Fun Shoot at Five Dogs Shooting Range and benefiting scholarships and certified welding inspection certifications. Cost is $85 per person or $425 per team. Contact Eric Ross at 979-8876 or Roger Putman at 496-3777.

The Bakersfield Police Activities League will hold its sporting clay tournament at the Kern County Gun Club. Special hosts for the shoot will be radio personality Jazz McKay and the popular Budweiser Girls.

The Black Gold Open will be at the Kern County Gun Club March 22-24. The shoot includes 400 targets plus doubles.

CDA banquet, fundraiser

The 12th annual California Deer Association Banquet will be held at Hodel's restaurant on March 22. Come join in on the fun of a prime rib dinner, great beverages, live and silent auctions and general raffle drawings. A junior raffle and plenty of guns will be given away to some lucky individuals. Contact Steve Hamblet (661) 589- 9685.

TBWA Dinner

The Tulare Basin Wetlands Association will hold its annual banquet and fundraiser at the Elk's Lodge on March 8. Founded to further the cause of wetlands conservation and habitat enhancement in Kern Kings and Tulare counties for the benefit of both waterfowl and outdoor enthusiasts, the cause also enhances camaraderie among conservationists and gun clubs in the area. Contact Dennis Slater at (661) 444-0407 or Jim Delmarter at (661) 327-1486.

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