Fishing Lake McClure In The California Drought (Video)

Scene is surreal with the water level way down

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Conditions can vary from one fishing tournament to the next, but we’ve never seen anything like the California drought. Bass angler and YouTuber Greg Blanchard visits Lake McClure in Northern California to compete in the Yak-A-Bass tournament series, but he finds a drastically different landscape than only a year earlier. With the water level sitting over 80 feet lower, will Blanchard be able to find the fish when the tournament begins?

California Drought Makes for a Tough Tournament

We join Blanchard on a Friday morning as he drives across what was once the bottom of Lake McClure. He navigates through a dusty field of dried-out stumps, searching for a location to launch onto the shrunken lake. As he drives, Blanchard points high up the hillside to a spot where the shoreline used to be.

Greg Blanchard fishes Lake McClure during the California drought
Water levels may be low, but the fish are still biting. | Image: Greg Blanchard/YouTube

Blanchard’s regular launch is out of commission, so he heads to another spot and prepares to scout the lake in advance of the tournament. “Last year we fished here twice and I hate to say it,” Blanchard admits, “but…it was stingy both times.” No surprise, then, when it takes him four hours to get a firm bite. Blanchard uses a drop shot with a Berkley PowerBait Pro Twitchtail Minnow in watermelon pearl to land a 15-inch smallmouth before breaking for the day.

“McClure remains tough for me.”

Before heading to bed, Blanchard cooks up dinner and shares his truck camping setup for tournaments. He has clever DIY window screens to help cool the truck interior during the day, plus a portable power source for fans, electronics and more.

Of the next day’s competition, Blanchard does not sound confident. “Five keepers tomorrow for me sounds like a miracle,” he worries. “I’m sure if you guys fish tournaments you know this feeling of going into a tournament and just having really nothing figured out.”

Will Blanchard be able to pull off a miracle? Only time will tell, but if you watch to the end he may be in line for some special largemouth luck.


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  1. Kevin VanDam’s self-acclaimed best “search bait” was the Crippled Herring, now marketed by Rapala. I do not see many pro, or recreational, anglers following, the most prolific winner of professional bass tournaments, VanDam’s advice. An IGFA line record largemouth was caught years ago in California’s Lake Castiac on a 3/4 oz Crippled Herring. These deep reservoirs are are ideal for vertical jigging, or cast-jigging, metal jigs like the Crippled Herring (Luhr Jensen/Rapala), Kandlefish (Wahoo Fishing Products) or Sonic BaitFish (Mack’s Lure Co).


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