2014 A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Table Rock Lake
Table Rock Lake - Branson, MO, Apr 3 - 6, 2014

Table Rock: Something old, something new

McClelland stuck with his roots, Davis tried something new at Table Rock Lake

James Overstreet
Mike McClelland has a history on Table Rock Lake; as a child, he fished on Table Rock Lake with his uncle who was a guide there.

Mike McClelland of Bella Vista, Ark., had no way of predicting his future, but the foundation of his bass fishing future was built at Table Rock Lake, beginning when he was 9 or 10 years old, when he was "fishing with people who knew what they were doing."

That included an uncle who worked as a guide on Table Rock.

"I remember we threw a Wiggle Wart (crankbait) or a spinnerbait or a plastic worm," said the 46-year-old McClelland. "In the spring, during prespawn, it was just two baits, a Wiggle Wart and a spinnerbait.

"My uncle wouldn't start guiding each year until the water temperature hit 52 degrees."

That generally was the water surface temperature at Table Rock Lake when the Bassmasters Elite Series arrived last week.

Rather than reminiscing about past experiences here, Mark Davis of Mt. Ida, Ark., was thinking of the future. As part of the Strike King pro staff, Davis gets to use some lures that haven't made it to market yet, as well as everything else in the Strike King catalog. One that isn't on the market – the Strike King River Bug – a soft-plastic with a Beaver type body and a couple of long, flat crawfish-type appendages, had been Davis' main weapon on the spawning bass at both Lake Seminole and the St. Johns River, where Davis opened he season with two third-place finishes.

Mark Davis had always Texas rigged his Rage Tail TwinTail Menace grub but decided to try it on a swing jig. Mark Davis had always Texas rigged his Rage Tail TwinTail Menace grub but decided to try it on a swing jig.
In the two weeks off between the St. Johns River and Table Rock, Davis put together a plan. He'd found out that the River Bug was made to be fished on a "swing jig," where the hook pivots freely from the lead head of the jig. He'd Texas rigged it in the first two tournaments. And Davis was thinking about using another Strike King soft plastic lure – the Rage Tail TwinTail Menace grub. He'd always Texas rigged it, but Davis liked the idea of fishing it on a swing jig. So he tried the combo at Lake Ouachita, near his hometown.

"I caught a bunch of fish on it," Davis said.

McClelland had a few more lures, in addition to the Wiggle Wart, in his tacklebox last week during the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament on Table Rock. His list of lures included, of course, one of his signature baits – a SPRO McStick jerkbait. But the Storm Wiggle Wart crankbait remained a key for McClelland and just about everyone else in the field.