Wendlandt Focused on Hunt for First Cup - Major League Fishing

Wendlandt Focused on Hunt for First Cup

Texas pro harnessing renewed passion in search of final piece of the puzzle
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Clark Wendlandt Photo by Charles Waldorf. Angler: Clark Wendlandt.
July 26, 2018 • Justin Onslow • Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit

There was a time when some believed Clark Wendlandt’s best days on the water were behind him. The three-time FLW Tour Angler of the Year and one of the most accomplished anglers in tournament fishing history just didn’t have it. He was inching closer and closer to the sunset. It was time to dry-dock the boat and call it a career, or so they said.

Fast-forward just a few years – while sidestepping the naysayers scurrying back into the shadows along the way – and you’ll find a man who was never in any danger of leaving the bright lights of the weigh-in stage. Wendlandt’s career was always alive and well.

It was just a matter of priorities that kept the bass fishing legend rooted to something much more important and something he knew he’d have long after his final tournament had been fished.

“To me, obviously, faith and family are the most important things. I put those first,” Wendlandt says. “I knew I was putting my energy into something besides fishing. I knew what I was doing.”

The consummate outdoorsman and family man wasn’t shirking his commitment to his sponsors or his supporters. He simply wanted to enjoy time with his wife, Patti, and daughters, Emily and Katie, while the latter were still living close to home and doing all the things a loving father wants to be a part of. When it came time to hit the road for another tournament, the desire to spend time with his family hit Wendlandt hard.

“My kids were here in high school, and they were going to school and doing what kids do, and then they also played volleyball. I just enjoyed being around for all that,” he admits. “Every time I had to go to a tournament it was like, ‘Gosh, I have to go to another tournament.’”

It’s a struggle many tournament anglers have to deal with from time to time. Life has its own way of putting careers and passions on hold.

But with both daughters now in nursing school, Wendlandt has finally been able to turn his attention back to his career and the passion that has driven his illustrious 25-year run in the industry.

“I’ve been fishing a lot more,” Wendlandt says. “I fish constantly. I’ve got a fishing and hunting show that I put a lot of effort into. I’ve got to be able to catch fish. I’m always thinking fishing.”

It certainly seems to be paying off.

After posting just two top-10 finishes from 2010 to 2012, Wendlandt has enjoyed a resurgence to the tune of five top-10 finishes since the beginning of 2015, including a win on the Potomac River and second-place finishes at Lewis Smith and Hartwell. All told, Wendlandt has amassed 40 top-10 finishes, four wins and a few AOY titles in his 22 years as an FLW pro.

The only thing missing from the trophy case is a Forrest Wood Cup.

“It [winning the Cup] would mean a great deal,” he says. “I really would like to win it. It’s not something I feel like I have to do to put a feather in my cap. Just like any competitor I want to win the next tournament I’ve got to fish.”

Wendlandt isn’t obsessing over a Cup victory – if it happens, it happens – but he certainly feels confident in his chances this year, especially with a 15th-place AOY performance under his belt in 2018. Lake Ouachita is a lake the Leander, Texas, pro likes quite a bit, and he knows it plays to nearly any strength.

“The lake sets up good for me,” Wendlandt says. “It could be won shallow, and it could be won deep. And I like it to kind of be a variety of things, not just set up a certain way where you’ve got to fish this way or you’ve got to fish that way. I think it makes it more interesting for the fans, too, but it’s a lot more interesting for me.”

Wendlandt made a couple of practice trips to Ouachita before it went off limits on July 23. He has the time, and he has the desire. All that’s really left is the execution.

“What I’ve realized over time is that that event stands alone,” he admits. “It’s not a regular-season event, and everybody fishing it puts extra effort into it. What I’ve really determined is that you’ve got to put that extra effort into it – whether it be practice, whether it be pre-fishing, whatever it is – you’ve got to put extra effort into it, or you’re just going to be behind when you get there.”

Wendlandt knows what it’s like to be behind, and it’s never bothered him before. With faith and family serving as the supportive pillars in his life, he’s never really all that far behind anyway.

He’d just prefer to be ahead this time – way ahead.