Mike McClelland will be competing in his first MLF Cup event in over a year next week. Photo by Josh Gassmann

We’re about to hit the road for the first MLF Cup event of the season and I couldn’t be more excited. After being part of the Cup events for many years, last year was the first time that I wasn’t able to compete in one. With the qualification process being your performance in the Bass Pro Tour, I had a rough 2019 and couldn’t string two solid tournaments together to make a Cup event.

That all changed this year with two solid finishes in Stages One and Two of the 2020 season. It was difficult to watch everyone participate in the Cup events last year, but now I’m back and ready to compete against these guys in one of my favorite formats.

I feel like the “Anywhere is Possible” format really fits my style of fishing well. That’s how I was always used to fishing in MLF events, that’s why I think the level of competition increased exponentially when they added practice days to the Bass Pro Tour tournaments. At the Cup events, with no practice and no idea where we will be fishing on any given day, I feel like it is much more of an even playing field for everyone competing.

Preparing For All Possibilities

We’re going to be back up in Wisconsin for this Cup, but I have no idea what lakes we will be fishing. Most of those northern states are known for having a mix of both largemouth and smallmouth, so I’m preparing as if I’m going to see both.

Also, temperatures are starting to fall in the north, so I’ll need to consider that when I start packing up the last of my tackle.

For largemouth, I’m going to bring some moving baits like buzzbaits, buzz toads, and Big Bites Baits flipping baits. At the same time, I’ll have spinning rods rigged up with smallmouth setups to catch them. I like using my SPRO McStick jerkbaits and my SPRO crankbait series for smallmouth as well. I think that will kind of play right into my wheelhouse.

No matter what I think I’m going to catch at a particular place, I’m going to have to go into each day of competition with an open mind. I’ve had mixed results recently in Wisconsin, but even in the events that I struggled, I’ve still learned a lot from my time up there.

Overall, I’m just really excited to be back fishing in the Cup events and trying to get my first MLF Cup win of my career. I can’t wait to get to Wisconsin and start the search for smallmouth and largemouth.