MIKE MCCLELLAND: I'm Ready for the Pressure at Sturgeon Bay - Major League Fishing

MIKE MCCLELLAND: I’m Ready for the Pressure at Sturgeon Bay

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Mike McClelland enters Stage Five in 41st place in the Race for the Points Championship. Photo by Josh Gassmann
July 3, 2020 • Mike McClelland • Angler Columns

We have one more event to go in the 2020 Bass Pro Tour season, and I have one major goal on my mind: to qualify for REDCREST.

I’m heading into Stage Five on Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in 41st place in points, just one point behind James Watson for that final spot in the Top 40. That’s important, because only the Top 40 get to go to 2021 REDCREST at Grand Lake with a chance to win $300,000.

I’m kind of frustrated that I let myself get in this position after starting the year off so well. After a ninth-place finish in Eufaula and another Knockout Round appearance in Stage Two, I’ve missed the Knockout Round in the last two events, putting me in this unenviable position. I feel like I’ve been around the right fish to be successful, I just haven’t caught the numbers I have needed to.

I was in the right area to catch big fish during Heavy Hitters, I just don’t think I had the reaction bite going like I needed it to. When I got bit, they were good ones for sure, I just didn’t catch enough of them. While the bigger fish were the main focus of the event and certainly part of my focus, I didn’t figure out an efficient way to catch numbers of scorable bass, and that’s what hurt me.

Eyes on Sturgeon Bay

I have some experience in Sturgeon Bay, fishing a Bassmaster Elite Series event there in 2012 where Jonathon VanDam won. I’m confident in my ability to catch lots of numbers there in Sturgeon Bay with my SPRO McStick jerkbait.

There’s no doubt that I will be facing some pressure in the final event of the season. The good thing about that is, I think I respond very well to pressure. As I look back on my career, when I’m put in a position where I have to make something happen, I usually do it. When my back is up against the wall, that’s when I feel like I’m at my best.

Having the camera on me or extra attention doesn’t bother me. I look at this final event as an opportunity to put my head down and figure out what it’s going to take to catch a solid amount of fish every day. I’m not too worried about it. We’re going to a fishery where there are tons of fish to be caught, and I plan on catching them.

What a REDCREST Berth Would Mean for Me

I don’t want to harp on the past or hang on to a bad year, but last year was not the type of performance that I expect from myself. Missing out on that inaugural REDCREST is something that will stick with me for a while.

The opportunity to qualify for REDCREST this year is one of the biggest opportunities I have ever had in my career. I didn’t have a chance to win the first one, but I sure would like my odds to win the second one a lot better if I was able to make it to Grand Lake.