Mike McClelland is off to a better start in 2020 than he was in 2019. Photo by Phoenix Moore

I’m really happy with how my 2020 Bass Pro Tour season has started so far. I’m sitting in 37th in REDCREST points standings after three stages, which is a lot better than I was doing last year when I finished in 78th place. I think a lot of the success I’ve had is because of where we’ve been fishing, the new minimum weight and the color of the water at Eufaula and Lake Fork.

I like throwing a vibrating jig and a crankbait, and that’s what Stages One and Three allowed me to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m comfortable with a spinning rod in my hand, it’s just not what I enjoy doing the most. I love having those big baits like a spinnerbait or a jig tied on, because that’s where I feel like I’m fishing the way that I want to.

Another reason I feel like I’m doing better is the new 2-pound minimum for scorable bass. That new minimum weight has not only changed how I’ve fished this year, but it’s changed it for a lot of guys (in a good way I might add).

The majority of us as professional anglers have been trained to fish for five bites a day since we were young rookies. When I won my first two pro events back in 1996, I didn’t even weigh in a five-fish limit every day. I didn’t need to because I was catching the biggest fish I possibly could.

Those couple of wins kind of taught me that I could win by hunting for big bites as opposed to getting bit a lot. That’s why when I came to MLF full time, it was a little bit of a shock to me at how good all these guys were at catching a lot of fish in a short amount of time.

I say that to make this point: This new minimum weight has allowed me to not necessarily change the way I fish, but instead revert back to how I have always fished in my career, which is why I feel more comfortable. I feel like I’m able to fish my strengths again, like throwing big baits in dirty water, which is allowing me to be the competitive angler that I know I am.

I feel like I’ve shown that in the two Knockout Rounds I’ve been able to qualify for in the first three Stages.

When We Get Back to Work …

Whenever we get back to fishing, we’ll be outside of the prespawn and spawning periods. Typically, the time of the year when the fish spawn is usually the hardest for me to get bit. It’s tough because I don’t really enjoy sight fishing. I’ve had a lot of success in my career during postspawn and I’m excited to be able to go out there and fish how I like to fish.

Again, this new 2-pound minimum is a game-changer for me, especially during the postspawn period. I go back to Table Rock Lake last year for Stages Six and Seven as a prime example.

I had fished that lake more than anyone over my career, probably spent twice as much time as anyone on that lake. However, that didn’t help me because I never fished to get a lot of bites on Table Rock. I was always looking for five big bites, and that’s not the way this game is played.

I didn’t do well at either of those events on Table Rock last year, and that’s just part of the reason I finished so poorly in the standings. As we start to get toward the time of the year where I feel like I can do some damage, I can’t wait to get back to it whenever we get the okay to start again.

Hopefully I can end the year inside that Top 30 for REDCREST qualification and make it to my first REDCREST.

Everyone stay safe and healthy out there, and we’ll see you soon.