It's been two years since BASS has been to Clear Lake, and there are quite a few anglers who are anxious to get back.
The last go-around was the Western OPEN in the middle of October 2005, and the weights were heavy, but not overly impressive. There were plenty of familiar Californians entered: Skeet Reese, Ish Monroe, Byron Velvick and Fred Roumbanis.
Also entered was a 32-year-old mustache-wearing milkman who hadn't quite made his name with BASS. It took 49 pounds, 15 ounces for Jared Lintner to best the field, and it launched a career that is now in full bloom.
He hopes to have the same success on Clear Lake in the Golden State Shootout presented by Evan Willams Bourbon, which starts on Thursday.
"I've fished a few tournaments since then on this lake," Lintner said, letting it be known that he still knows his way around.
After finishing second in the Rookie of the Year standings in 2006, Lintner is off to an even more impressive 2007. He came in 13th at Lake Amistad in the first event of the year, missing the final cut by less than half a pound, and finished seventh in the Duel in the Delta this past weekend.
Even with all of that going for him, Lintner's confidence is a little shaky at the moment, which is perhaps because he's feeling the pressure of the high finishes that are starting to become commonplace for the angler from Arroyo Grande, Calif.
"The fishing is going to get really good, and that kind of scares me because I haven't gotten into the bigger fish," Lintner said. He thinks it's going to take 17-18 pounds a day to make the cut and 22-24 a day to win. "I have been catching a bunch of 3-pounders, and that's not going to do it."
Like every angler fishing close to home, Lintner has his "spots." But he said that having the "20 or 30" areas that have been good to him "kind of works as a double-edged sword."
"I've got a lot of spots I can go to, but I might overlook something because it hasn't worked for me in the past," he said.
One thing Lintner has going his way is the slow death of what has been a mainstay on the fishing circuit: the home-water jinx. Scott Rook started its demise by winning on the Arkansas River in the Bassmaster Legends last season. Boyd Duckett dealt it a huge blow at the Classic in Birmingham, Derek Remitz won in Texas after having lived there for a year recently (a real stretch, but we'll count it), and Aaron Martens, who now lives in Alabama but made his name in California, just won on the Delta.
One thing Lintner doesn't have going his way is that he is not the only angler that calls this lake home.
"Both Skeet and Ish know this lake really well, too," Lintner said. "We all kind of know the same spots, and I have seen them a lot during practice. So, that kind of plays with your head."
In his head or out, confidence or lack thereof, Lintner can't deny the solid start to his season, and how it could play to his advantage.
"When you're fishing well, you tend to make the right decisions," he said. "This tournament is going to change a lot, and I think the guy who makes the right decisions and adjustments will win."
Editors Note: ESPNOutdoors.com's new and exclusive pre-game show, Hooked Up, will start at 6 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, April 1. It will be hosted by ESPN2 Bassmaster television hosts Tommy Sanders and Jerry McKinnis, and can be seen in the same location on ESPNOutdoors.com where the live video weigh-in is streamed. Click here for more information