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McClelland Climbs To Top Of Bassmaster Elite Series Leaderboard
Posted by: newsla on Apr 06, 2014 - 06:20 AM
McClelland Climbs To Top Of Bassmaster Elite Series Leaderboard

Cabela's/GEICO For Your Boat angler Mike McClelland likes to fly under the radar at Bassmaster Elite Series events, preferring to fish his way without much attention, but after Saturday's performance on Table Rock Lake, the spotlight is on him.


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McClelland bagged five fish weighing 17 pounds, 9 ounces to take the lead into the final day of the A.R.E Truck Caps Elite Series tournament.

Each day McClelland has improved, starting in 12th place on Thursday before moving to fourth on Friday. A local favorite -- he lives about 80 miles away in Bella Vista, Ark. -- McClelland did his best to focus on the task at hand.

"You're going to get so much more attention and pressure and people following you around," McClelland said. "It was fine with me to be 12th. I always feel like if I can continue to figure them out a little better as the week progresses, things will work out in your best interest. I kind of like to stay behind the scenes as much as I can and let it happen."

But after being announced last, as the leader, among the top 12 at the weigh-in Saturday, McClelland is no longer an underdog. Still, he won't let the pressure get to him.

"I just feel really fortunate to get through the first three days and know that I get to fish tomorrow," McClelland said. "I'm going to go out with a clear conscience tomorrow and continue to cover a lot of water, and how the chips fall is how they fall.

"I really believe when it's meant to be, it's meant to be, and if it's my time to win, the good Lord will bless me and put them in the boat for me."

Should McClelland hang on and win, it will mark his seventh career Elite Series victory and his first since 2008 at Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida.

McClelland got to the lead by employing a similar pattern he has used all week. An increasingly bigger bag proved it worked, and at 49 pounds, 13 ounces, he's nearly 4 pounds ahead of second-place Aaron Martens.

"I feel like I moved around a little bit today, even with the light wind, and I have myself some options if we don't get wind tomorrow," McClelland said. "The forecast sounds like we're going to have wind and clouds again tomorrow, and we should just pick a McStick and crankbait up and make over a lot of water and hopefully catch another good one like I did today."

McClelland ran about an 18- to 20-mile stretch Saturday chasing wind conditions he liked as well as a specific type of bank.

"It was almost like the good Lord helped me all day with the breeze," McClelland said. "Everywhere I ran, I could pick out a little bit of breeze, and that's the key when you fish Table Rock."

McClelland ended up with three largemouth and two smallmouth, culling fish late in the day in a new area.

"Two of the ones I weighed today I caught in a creek I hadn't been in all week," McClelland said. "I'm just running a pattern, chasing wind, and looking for a specific type of bank to fish the way I want to fish."

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