High water moves fish shallow

Elite series anglers forced to make adjustments at Sooner Run

What's at stake

 $673,150 in cash to the top 50 Elite pros and valuable points toward qualifying in the Bassmaster Majors and the race for the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year award.


 The Sooner Run presented by Longhorn will be aired on The Bassmasters at 9 a.m. ET June 30 on ESPN2.

 The Pros Said It

 "It's really going to be a much different tournament this year than last year because of the high water level, and water color is really going to play havoc on anyone planning to structure fish. The fish just aren't out there deep, and I'm fishing much more shallow right now. Last year I was pretty zeroed in on one depth and style, but this year is different. I think there's going to be a couple of good bags caught, but I'm not sure if it will be consistent for one person every day. The bass are in different depths and you have to cover all facets and possibilities of where they may be."

 — Mike McClelland, 39, Bella Vista, Ark., 4-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier and winner of the 2006 Bassmaster Elite Series Sooner Run on Grand Lake.

 "I'm catching a lot of fish, but not many big bass. The lake is high and it came down about 3 feet just before practice started, so it has started to level off now. I think the lake is off just a little bit because the water dirtied up quite a bit and slowed that deep bite down quite a bit. The fishing has been steady the last couple days, and the water is starting to clear, so I think you'll see some good sacks weighed in."

Terry Butcher, 35, Talala, Okla., one-time BASS winner, 96th in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. "Last year I had a horrible tournament and was all prepared to fish outside the way it was won in 2006, but now it's way over pool and muddy water. I've changed up my game plan and started fishing shallow again. It's tough finding areas where you can get more than one or two bites. The fish are scattered and I haven't found an area with a whole school of them yet. I'm fishing a lot of areas and will hopefully come across some decent-sized bass. I'm fishing the way I like to fish, and now it's just a matter of getting the bites and getting them in the boat."

 — Jared Lintner, 33, Arroyo Grande, Calif., one-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, ranked third in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings.

 The Strategy

 McClelland: The Arkansan is targeting structure, and using the same pattern that propelled him to win the 2006 Bassmaster Elite Series event on Grand Lake. But, he notes that the stained water color is making it more difficult to locate the bass. He plans to fish shallow and deep, covering a lot of water and using a variety of lures including Carolina rigs, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and Texas-rigged worms. McClelland estimates it will take 60 pounds to win the tournament.

 Butcher: He is fishing shallow and deep-water locations and using a variety of patterns and lures. For the shallow-water bite he is mainly flipping and for the deep-water bite he prefers crankbaits and soft plastics. He estimates close to 70 pounds will win the tournament.

 Lintner: His primary patterns will be flipping and pitching in shallow water around bushes and covering as much water as possible. He also has fished outside points, humps and deeper rock piles to locate the deep-water bite. If he places his bait in the right areas, he is confident he'll come across a big bass.