Mike McClelland: Clarks Hill

Pride of Georgia Preview: McClelland's approachMike McClelland had it right: keep moving and switch baits. Nearly every Elite angler who cashed a check from the Clarks Hill event did just that.Winner Kenyon Hill fished several points with a Carolina rig and a couple of different plastics for most of his fish but switched to a hard swimbait for his kickers. Second place finisher, Davy Hite, followed a similar strategy. He fished jigs and a variety of topwater baits for his catch. Edwin Evers finished third by fishing a "bazillion" places with a jig.McClelland also said a few anglers might fish the handful of bass that were still on their beds. That's exactly what Dave Smith did to boat a 7-pound, 1-ounce bass. Smith marked his fish during practice and went back on the first day of the tournament to claim her. That female tied Kenyon Hill's 7-pound, 1-ounce lunker for big bass of the tournament."I'm not surprised at how they did it. I knew it would be run and gun with different lures. I said I'd leave the dock with a jig and topwater lure tied on my rod and that before it was over I'd probably use a spinning rod and plastics."That's how most of guys who got a check fished, and that's how I caught my bass. Unfortunately, mine weren't big enough. I thought they were in practice, but I was wrong. Twenty-sixth place is not where I expected to finish. It was very disappointing," says McClelland. "I really thought I would do better."He also predicted that weather would be a factor in the event. It was.Wind — considered by most Elite anglers to be a friend — helped the bite for the first three days. Sunday was another matter, however. The air was dead still and the water slicked over like a mirror."It absolutely killed me," said Evers, who led the tournament on Friday and Saturday before falling to third on Sunday. "I really thought it was mine to lose but when the wind laid down I wasn't able to get a good bite. The lack of wind absolutely killed me, just killed me! I didn't have a good backup plan, and I paid for it.Prior to the tournament, McClelland thought the cut weight would be 20 to 22 pounds on Friday evening. It was right at 21 pounds. That's dead-on by any standard.And he thought it would take 45 to 47 pounds to fish on Sunday. His forecast was a little high on that. Just under 41 pounds was good enough.His winning weight prediction was on the low side. He estimated 60 to 65 pounds would win it. In reality it took 68 pounds even. In fairness, however, Davy Hite's second place weight was 59 pounds, 8 ounces, so McClelland didn't miss by much.

 McClelland told us to watch three anglers — Derek Remitz, Jeff Kriet and Casey Ashley. Remitz and Kriet both made the first cut on Friday night but didn't survive to fish on Sunday. Ashley finished fifth overall.All things considered, the Elite Series pro from Bella Vista, Ark., deserves a grade of B. He got most of the important things right.


Pride of Georgia Preview: McClelland's approach