Making the transition

Elite Series anglers must adjust to Clear Lake, which will fish nothing like the California Delta. James Overstreet

LAKEPORT, Calif. — On the final day of fishing Sunday on the California Delta, James Niggemeyer switched from power fishing with braided line to finesse fishing with 7-pound test. In many ways, that adjustment mirrors the change many anglers will make as they transition to Clear Lake for the Golden State Shootout.

From a tidal, delta waterway to a clearer, mountain lake, anglers will have to adjust both their equipment and mental approach. For some anglers like Mike Iaconelli, that means forgetting everything he thought he knew about California.

"I need to forget about this tournament and then I also need to forget about the tournament Steve Kennedy won with over 100 pounds of bass," Iaconelli said. "I'm not going to think about the last time we were here. I'm very skeptical about getting excited. Ish (Monroe) kept telling me that the Delta was going to heat up any day and I'm still wearing my long johns."

For Ike, the most important thing he will be taking from the California Delta is momentum. After a fourth-place finish in Stockton and a sixth-place showing at the Classic, Iaconelli has started the year off on a tear that he hopes to continue on Clear Lake.

"I'm fishing strong and smart right now," Iaconelli said. "I'm disappointed that I didn't knock it out (on the Delta), but I've had a bunch of top-10 finishes. When you keep putting yourself in positions, sooner or later the win will come."

A good finish on the Delta has put many of the top-12 anglers in a positive mental state heading into the second tournament of the year. For Stephen Browning, a sixth-place finish in Stockton will help him relax and fish more aggressively on Clear Lake.

"I feel like the guys that did well here will fish a little more aggressive at Clear Lake," Browning said. "You have to fish aggressive there. Big swimbaits. I drop shotted and finesse fished the last time we were there, but I think it's going to be a swimbait bite to win. They should really start to get aggressive here this week."

A win on the California Delta was a life-changer and career-definer for John Crews, but Clear Lake was on his mind from the beginning.

"It was funny because each night, me and Ike would talk a little about Clear Lake," Crews said. "We're used to doing this, where we go from one place to the next. It's definitely on my mind and I'm looking forward to it."

One major difference the anglers will encounter is the size of the waterways. The California Delta is a sprawling waterway. On one hand, that allows anglers to spread out and find untouched water, but on the other, it creates a massive playing field to narrow down a productive area.

Clear Lake, on the other hand, offers a size issue of a different proportion.

"Clear Lake is really a small lake," said Rick Clunn. "There is no hidden water like there is on the Delta. On the Delta, you can run 80 miles each way, where on Clear Lake it will be a fraction of that."

Enter California angler Skeet Reese. After missing out on his second Elite Series victory by one ounce Sunday, Reese is even more determined to put on a show on Clear Lake.

"Clear Lake is my stomping ground," Reese said. "I have won more money here than anywhere else."

With almost no surprises on a small body of water, if anyone has any secrets, it should be Reese.

"I maybe have some little stuff that no one else knows about," Reese said. "It could be just a matter of a different way to line up a cast or the actual presentation."

Reese predicts that Clear Lake will only get better as the week gets on and the weather forecast for Lakeport echoes those sentiments. Sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 70s throughout the week should set the stage for the anticipated return to the stage of Steve Kennedy's record-setting 2007 victory.