ESCANABA, Mich. (Sept. 23) — With his Bassmaster Elite Series win earlier in the season at Table Rock earning him a spot in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic, Pro angler Mike McClelland ensured his berth in the tournament by double qualifying during the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship event on Bays de Noc.“Double qualifying was one of the goals I set out to accomplish,” McClelland said. “I had to maintain the opportunity in my finish to do that and hopefully help someone else get into the Classic. The last thing you want to do is be that guy that wins an event and then truly doesn’t qualify by the points.
“I feel like I was fishing really well this year and had a solid season. I’ve had some blunders this year and GEICO has had to step in and take care of my boat. I have had two lower units, including this weekend, that I’ve broke this year. It’s great to have folks behind me like GEICO and Cabela’s who allow me to go out here and continue to do what I love to do.”
Continuing to improve his position in the points standings throughout the entire season, the Cabela’s/GEICO For Your Boat Elite angler propelled himself to 26th overall, well into the cutoff to qualify for the Classic.
“I was pretty happy with how the event ended, even though I didn’t make the top 15 and qualify for the Texas Bass Classic,” McClelland said. “I just didn’t really have an exceptional practice. I caught a lot of fish throughout practice; I just never found where the big ones were. I would catch a limit of fish, but I just never caught the right quality of fish. Honestly, I think what I caught the first day and the second day were a little bit better than I thought I would have caught in the areas I was fishing.
“I fished really clean this week and I had a great time. This festival was a great opportunity to be able to catch smallmouth bass, which are my favorite fish in the world to fish for.”
McClelland put himself in position for a good finish in the Angler of the Year event in Escanaba, Mich., after his 15-pound, 11-ounce bag on Thursday. Even when weather postponed fishing action for three days, he was able to improve his overall weight to 33 pounds, 5 ounces after he culled his way to a 17-pound, 10-ounce bag Sunday to finish the tournament 28th overall.
“It’s tough when you have a plan and have things dialed in and then you sit on the bank,” McClelland said. “I don’t care what kind of sport you play. When you’re put in that situation where you get up that morning and you’re ready to go and they press the stop button, it’s tough to recover.
“I felt like Monday with the wind changing like it did it affected me. It blew from almost every direction it could blow from this week. When I was fishing Monday, it affected me in a negative way in the numbers of fish that I caught, but the quality of fish that I caught were actually a little better.”
Cabela’s/GEICO For Your Boat angler Mike McClelland ensured his spot in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic thanks to his efforts at the season finale on Bays de Noc.