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.
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.