- Craig Lamb
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STOCKTON, Calif. With 11 of its 12 members qualified as "local experts," it is no wonder that team California led wire to wire at the CITGO B.A.S.S. Federation Western Division tournament on the Delta.
In the end, the odds-on favorites to win the battle between the states did just that, and in impressive fashion. The California dozen weighed a cumulative weight of 372 pounds, 7 ounces to beat Washington's weight of 339-10. New Mexico placed third with 315-8, Montana came in fourth with 292-14 and Arizona rounded out the Top 5 with 290-6.
The winning team's effort was topped by overall third place finisher Cris Vanclef of Modesto, whose 42-14 catch capped the victory. Ten pounds of Vanclef's catch was attributed to one fish, the largest caught in the tournament, which he landed on a wacky rigged Gary Yamamoto Senko.
For Vanclef and his teammates, the tournament was akin to showing up at the ballpark for a home game during the middle of the baseball season. "We all had our own game plans and there wasn't any confusion over what was to be done," he said. "We all worked together as a team, but it wasn't like we had to pull together because we were lost out there."
He had the fish dialed in all week, although the passing cold front early in the competition kept the tournament from being a literal cakewalk. "What this tournament was all about was making last minute adjustments," said Vanclef, a member of the Ghost Busters Bass Club. "I adjusted constantly. Today I think I just adjusted more than I probably should have, and lost the tournament."
Vanclef's primary baits were the wacky rigged Senko (red/black) and a Zoom Trick Worm (bubblegum). Both of the baits were fished on 14-pound P-Line, spooled on a Shimano Curado reel with a Fenwick Techna rod.
"The key was to look for flats adjacent to deep water," he said. "Some of the guys were missing fish in the thick mats of grass, but we fished in the sparser new growth, and they didn't have any trouble getting to the bait."
Vanclef said his team could have performed even better if the tidal swings had been in sync with the tournament hours. "We would have preferred the incoming the first thing in the morning and then the outgoing later in the day. It would have given us the best of both worlds."
Yet, Federation president Gary Bradford said his team really didn't need the better of two worlds. "We had our state qualifier here, so the guys already had tasted a competition here. And even then, our only guy from Southern California, Cameron Smith, came in third place there and 12th here."
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