McClelland Gunning to Win GEICO Bassmaster Classic

GREENVILLE, S.C. (Feb. 17) — Simply getting in the field for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic this weekend on Lake Hartwell is a goal for many professional anglers.

“It is the biggest tournament of the year,” Cabela’s/GEICO For Your Boat angler Mike McClelland said. “It’s the one you get jazzed up for when the tournament season starts. It’s the goal you set every year: To try to make sure you qualify for the Classic. To be fishing my 10th Classic is super exciting.”

dwRjwKzDxpR3HrKX8zsC3molS8ogxWgsxrF16S73E82Iws813aGCqAual9WLqGCYhIPeyzbEqvtamaAZd2qIG4hOt49ZILqOtAQETTk6T2uHzqUe2zBGe-YSf1TSfDF8jpTRqA=s0-d-e1-ftBut McClelland isn’t satisfied at being one of the 56 qualifiers for bass fishing’s premier event: He wants to win it.

That’s a tall order because the best anglers in the world will compete this Friday through Sunday, but it will be more difficult than ever this week because freezing temperatures are looming.

“The conditions, in my mind, do play into my favor,” McClelland said. “I’ve always fished well in cold, tough conditions. This should be one of those events that isn’t a typical slugfest. It should be a deal where you really have to work to get a bite. If you get the right bite, you’ve got a good chance of walking away the winner.”

McClelland and his competitors have been practicing on Lake Hartwell since last week, even as temperatures dipped below freezing. Friday’s forecast low temperature is in the mid-20s, and while it will warm up slightly for Saturday and Sunday, it still will be cold.

“It’s definitely going to play a factor into how this tournament plays out, for sure,” McClelland said. “I’ve practiced, keeping the conditions in mind. It’s not a secret as to what the weather is going to do, and I’ve practiced according to the weather continuing to get cold.”

Rain and snow are forecast for Saturday with more rain Sunday.

“One of the biggest things we’re going to fight this week is being able to fish properly in such cold conditions,” McClelland said. “Once temperatures get below 32, you have issues with your guides freezing up and your reels freezing up. That can be as big a deal as anything.”

There are lubricants to help deal with the cold but many don’t last more than an hour. McClelland said blowing hot air on reels and dipping rods into the water helps as much as anything.

McClelland isn’t worried too much about keeping himself warm.

“You learn through the years of what’s appropriate,” McClelland said. “Fortunately, with the fine folks at Cabela’s and Mustang Survival, I’ve got some of the finest cold-weather gear there is.”

Follow Mike on his Facebook page.

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