BRANSON, Mo. (Oct. 2) — Cabela’s/GEICO For Your Boat angler Mike McClelland fell short of his goal of winning the Bassmaster Central Open No. 3 on Table Rock Lake, but he ended his Bassmaster season on a positive note.
McClelland, fishing to win and snare a spot in the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic, finished 24th out of 170 anglers with a two-day weight of 21 pounds, 10 ounces.
“If it’s meant to be, it will all fall into place,” McClelland said. “Apparently, it just wasn’t meant to be for me to win the event or make the GEICO Bassmaster Classic for next year. It was one of those years you have to put behind you and move on to the next one.”
McClelland didn’t finish in the top 36 of the Toyota Angler of the Year standings for the Bassmaster Elite Series, so he needed to secure a berth by winning a Central Open, and Table Rock Lake was his final opportunity.
He won an Elite Series event here last April and was confident of success in the Central Open, but he simply wasn’t able to land enough quality fish to make the top-12 cut for Saturday’s final day.
“This was an all-or-nothing deal,” McClelland said. “I got on a pattern during practice that allowed me to catch a limit pretty quick, usually within the first two hours of the morning. I felt really confident about getting five in the boat and then having a lot of the day to fish for big ones, and that’s what I did.”
McClelland finished less than two pounds out of the top 12 in his final Bassmaster event of 2015.
“I’ve had some highlights this year,” McClelland said. “I started the year off with a second-place finish at the Sabine River, almost winning it after running 120 miles a day. You have to rely a lot on your equipment to do that, and Mercury and Stratos have provided me a rig that I never doubt when I’m running up and down the lake. That’s an important part of things.
“Having all the people who make it possible when you have these years when you don’t win as much as you would like to win is what allows a person like myself to continue to do this. It’s an expensive sport, far more than a lot of people realize when you factor the entry fees and the travel and everything we do. There’s no way in the world I could continue to do this without GEICO, Cabela’s, Falcon, Mustang, and everybody who supports me throughout the course of the year and my career.”
McClelland remains confident about turning things around in 2016, despite the close to this season not being what he wanted.
“Even when you look at my results from this week, I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to accomplish, but I had a decent finish,” McClelland said. “I was fishing against 170 guys, and I finished in the top 25. I feel good about the way I performed, and I feel like I fished really clean. I had a great time but just didn’t quite accomplish what I set out to do this week.”
McClelland will spend a couple of days camping at the Old Highway 86 campground on Table Rock Lake before closing his season in Florida with a Major League Fishing event.
“I probably launched a boat here the first time when I was 15 years old,” McClelland said. “I’ve been coming here for 30-plus years, and there’s a lot of sentimental memories here. This is a lake that I pretty much grew up learning to fish on and has allowed me to forge a career in professional bass fishing.”