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I’m Ready for the Pressure at Sturgeon Bay

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Photo by Josh Gassmann - We have one more event to go in the 2020 Bass Pro Tour season, and I have one major goal on my mind: to qualify for REDCREST. 

I’m heading into Stage Five on Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in 41st place in points, just one point behind James Watson for that final spot in the Top 40. That’s important, because only the Top 40 get to go to 2021 REDCREST at Grand Lake with a chance to win $300,000.

I’m kind of frustrated that I let myself get in this position after starting the year off so well. After a ninth-place finish in Eufaula and another Knockout Round appearance in Stage Two, I’ve missed the Knockout Round in the last two events, putting me in this unenviable position. I feel like I’ve been around the right fish to be successful, I just haven’t caught the numbers I have needed to.

I was in the right area to catch big fish during Heavy Hitters, I just don’t think I had the reaction bite going like I needed it to. When I got bit, they were good ones for sure, I just didn’t catch enough of them. While the bigger fish were the main focus of the event and certainly part of my focus, I didn’t figure out an efficient way to catch numbers of scorable bass, and that’s what hurt me.


Eyes on Sturgeon Bay

I have some experience in Sturgeon Bay, fishing a Bassmaster Elite Series event there in 2012 where Jonathon VanDam won. I’m confident in my ability to catch lots of numbers there in Sturgeon Bay with my SPRO McStick jerkbait.

There’s no doubt that I will be facing some pressure in the final event of the season. The good thing about that is, I think I respond very well to pressure. As I look back on my career, when I’m put in a position where I have to make something happen, I usually do it. When my back is up against the wall, that’s when I feel like I’m at my best.

Having the camera on me or extra attention doesn’t bother me. I look at this final event as an opportunity to put my head down and figure out what it’s going to take to catch a solid amount of fish every day. I’m not too worried about it. We’re going to a fishery where there are tons of fish to be caught, and I plan on catching them.


What a REDCREST Berth Would Mean for Me

I don’t want to harp on the past or hang on to a bad year, but last year was not the type of performance that I expect from myself. Missing out on that inaugural REDCREST is something that will stick with me for a while.

The opportunity to qualify for REDCREST this year is one of the biggest opportunities I have ever had in my career. I didn’t have a chance to win the first one, but I sure would like my odds to win the second one a lot better if I was able to make it to Grand Lake.

McClelland: Don't Ignore Cold-Water Shade Lines

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By Jonathan LePera Special to BassFan - Mike McClelland has always marched to the beat of his own drum. Bucking the norm is nothing new to him, so when anglers learn that he targets the shade in cold water instead of the sun, it might raise an eyebrow or two. 

“So many guys will pull up to a boat dock in the spring and disregard the shade and just fish the cover of the dock,” McClelland said. “Through my years of fishing, I realized so many of my bites have come from the shade line instead of the dock itself." 

Regardless of what part of the country he’s fishing during the cold-water months, McClelland will seek out the shade. 

“A shade line gives bass that sense of security and cover,” he said, “but they want to be close to the sun which is creating the shade because of the cold water and the temps they are fighting this time of the year." 

Cruising for Cover

In the spring, the bass use the sun to warm themselves but the shade becomes the cover, McClelland says. Once the water temperatures start to warm in the cold-weather months, baitfish and forage start climbing in the water column seeking the warmth of the sun. 

Bass still have predatory instincts in wanting some sort of cover, McClelland added, but they don’t want to bury up into shade by hiding under a dock, preventing them from using the “soft shade lines” as ambush points. Fish will utilize the shade thrown over a point by a big tree the same way. 

They’ll cruise the edges, always keeping their body in the sunshine to feel the warmth of the sun and their nose and eyes into the shade to make them feel like they are hidden, yet always ready to ambush, McClelland says. 

When dealing with larger areas of shade created by a larger set of docks or a larger dock that may harbor a number of fish, the bigger fish tuck a little further into the shade, ducking just out of sight. Most often, the smaller fish are the first to commit while the larger fish are less aggressive when covered by shade

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Tip for Fishing in Florida

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When it comes to Texas-rigging weedless soft plastics in Florida’s weedy waters, Mike McClelland always adjusts to the lightest weight possible.

 “Since Florida has so many different densities of vegetation, constantly changing your weight on Texas rigs to match those different densities is critical,” said McClelland. “You can’t believe how many more bites you will get on an 1/8-ounce weight versus a ¼-ounce weight when fishing something like sparse eelgrass or lily pads. The trick is to get that worm to fall as naturally as possible.

“Wind is a major factor in this choice, too,” he added. “If it’s dead slick, you might even consider going weightless or down to a 1/16-ounce. Often times I’ll have several rods rigged with the same soft plastic but with different weights to match vegetation and wind conditions.”

Grouping For First Bass Pro Tour Event Announced

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Major League Fishing announced the groupings for the first two days of fishing in their first ever Bass Pro Tour event on Lake Toho next week. The competition starts Jan. 29, 2019 and group A will fish then. While Group B will fish on the Jan. 30 2019. Here is who will be competiting in each group. For more details visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.  

Bass Pro Anglers
Group A

Mark Daniels
Gary Klein
Casey Ashley
Brandon Coulter
Andy Montgomery
Dave Lefebre
Randy Howell
Randall Tharp
Mark Davis
Ish Monroe
Kelly Jordon
Jared Lintner
Gerald Spohrer
Fred Roumbanis
Edwin Evers
Brett Hite
Chris Lane
Michael Neal
Justin Lucas
David Walker
Zack Birge
Jason Lambert
Mike McClelland
Tommy Biffle
Russ Lane
Matt Lee
Stephen Browning
Andy Morgan
Ott DeFoe
Roy Hawk
Jacob Wheeler
Greg Vinson
Keith Poche
Takahiro Omori
James Watson
Jordan Lee
Tim Horton
James Elam
Cody Meyer
Shin Fukae

 Group B

Aaron Martens
Adrian Avena
Bradley Roy
Jeff Kriet
Jeff Sprague
Skeet Reese
Terry Scroggins
Dustin Connell
John Murray
Shaw Grigsby
Alton Jones
Brent Chapman
Britt Myers
Jacob Powroznik
Luke Clausen
Boyd Duckett
Gerald Swindle
Jason Christie
Josh Bertrand
Todd Faircloth
Greg Hackney
Scott Suggs
Jesse Wiggins
Wesley Strader
Cliff Pace
Paul Elias
Cliff Crochet
Johnathon VanDam
Brent Ehrler
Anthony Gagliardi,
Justin Atkins
Kevin VanDam
Bobby Lane
Alton Jones Jr.
Mike Iaconelli
Fletcher Shryock
Mark Rose
Brandon Palaniuk
Marty Robinson
Dean Rojas

5th: McClelland Feels Good

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Photo by: B.A.S.S. / Seigo Saito > Day 4: 5, 23-04 (20, 90-01) McClelland's finish was easily his best of 2018 – his previous high was a 28th at Lake Travis.

"I feel like I had a great event," he said. "Could I have caught more (weight) on 1 or 2 days? Yeah, I weighed a 2-15 yesterday and a 3-04 today and if I could've gotten rid of those I'd have had a little bit better bags, but it was still a good tournament."

His best fish of the day, a 6-1, bit after another good one had raced toward the bottom and spit out his hook.

"When it came off I opened my bail to let the line start falling, and then it quit falling and I raised up and that fish was on there. I truly don't think it was the same fish because that one fought harder than the one that came off."

He employed a variety of baits on dropshot rigs, including a Big Bite Baits Limit Maker and a prototype offering from that company. Read more

RV living with McClelland

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Photo by Overstreet

RV Living With The McClelland's

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