Photos of the Open

I attended the Central Open at Table Rock Lake this weekend with my husband. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the tournament and although my husband didn't make the cut on Saturday,  he drew Casey Scanlon AND Tommy Biffle for his boaters on day one and day two! I got pics of so many amazing anglers and beautiful boats and although I froze my toes off each morning, it was well worth it and I had a blast. Thank you to the tournament staff, Toyota Pro Team staff and every angler pro or not for these awesome pictures and great memories. I sure hope to go again. 

-Tammy Watts

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Rick Clunn and son

Rick Clunn's son, River, was at the final weigh-in last weekend at Table Rock. As I watched them together, couldn't help but think... how many fish River will catch during his lifetime, considering the infinite wisdom shared with him from one of the greatest fishermen to ever walk the planet.

Great men are great father's...and they make for great friends, too.

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Open weigh-in venue

On the scene, about an hour prior to the final weigh-in of the 2017 Bass Pro Shops Central Open weigh-in.

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Which way the wind blows

As noted by Steve Bowman the wind went from calm to gusty. All week the wind has blown from the north side of the compass. That explains the cooler temperatures. 

Now it's switched to a strong southerly flow with sustained winds at 15 mph with higher gusts. 

That means a couple of things might come into play this afternoon. First, the wind-driven current will stimulate the bass activity as it will with the baitfish. Put those together and the fishing gets better on Ozark impoundments like Table Rock, especially this time of year. 

Next, and depending on where anglers are setting up on spots, it could make the fishing better or tougher for a given angler. 

Finally, the wind and warmer temperatures could spark even more bass activity. 

In summary, the wind could be a bigger outcome by weigh-in time. 

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McClelland: Keeper #2 and ...

The momentum might be swinging in favor of Mike McClelland. The wind has come from nowwhere. It's gone from flat calm to gusts up to 14 mph from the south. 

That's a good thing for McClelland and here's why. With the wind came a flock of gulls to feed on what likely are threadfin shad getting pushed toward the surface by the bass. McClelland responded by moving to the action. 

That was a good idea. He now has a 3-pound spotted bass in the livewell, for 2 keepers.

The key to all of the above is wind-driven current. That stimulates bass feeding activity and the birds tipped off McClelland to the action.  

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McClelland: Keeper #1

As predicted with the sunrise comes warmer water temperature and active bass. 

Mike McClelland just boated his first keeper of the day. We guess the weight at 2 1/4 pounds. 

Today he needs more weight per fish and knows it. The hope is for bigger, weighter largemouth to help him take the lead and stay there. 

McClelland's presentation

I just put the stop watch to McClelland. He's taking between 1 minute and 45 seconds to 2 minutes per cast. 

That gives you an idea of how slow he's moving. VanDam would have 4 or 5 casts in that time period.

He's making casts about 30 yards long with a steady retrieve. The bait never reaches bottom. 

That's a key part of his presentation. Most anglers are reporting the bass to be suspended, on the move. 


McClelland's tackle

McClelland is throwing a small swim bait rigged to a 1/4-ounce underspin jig. He's counting it down to the strike zone. Depending on time of day that count is 8, 12 or more.

He can see the fish on his Garmin Panoptix. The presentation involves seeing the fish, making long casts, and counting the lure down to the proper depth. Once getting it there he brings it back with a slow retrieve.

The presentation must be precise to keep the lure inside the strike zone. McClelland's Day 1 co-angler has rejoined him today. He's excited to be back in his boat, since he knows the nuances of the presentation.

It's not easy.  But obviously it's effective.  

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Action rises with temperature

Day 3 is panning out like the previous two rounds of fishing on Table Rock Lake. 

It's been slow early, just like the previous days, with fishing action rising with the temperature.

Mike McClelland's co-angler has just caught the first keeper of the day. McClelland answered that with a short fish.

The action was similar on Days 1 and 2. McClelland has said the sun needs to get up before these fish will bite.

The sun has popped over the horizon. Now it's just a matter of getting them to bite. McClelland said repeatedly there are tons of them below him. 

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Two horse race?

We've started this morning on Mike McClelland simply because he's within eye sight of the take off.

He's literally burned about two thimbles of fuel to get here. But each day he has caught a limit here. On Day 1, he left fairly early and ran way up one of the rivers here.

Yesterday, he stuck here and caught 17 plus pounds. He knows he has to do that and probably more to win. And he knows how to win on these final days. He never lets up.

We remember Elite events, primarily one on Toho, where he came from behind from a much larger deficit to win.

But we also assume Randy Sullivan will continue having good days. Sullivan is "way up the James River" and we will get to him later in the day. Both of these anglers are catching fish really well. For us it seems like a two-horse race. 

But there are some scary folks down below as well, like Rick Clunn, who is well known for magical finishes.

It's going to be an interesting day from start to finish.