Last-Minute Decision Nets Angler 7-7 Bass, Largest of the Day

GROVE, Okla. – After a long day of competitive fishing, CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mike McClelland was exhausted and sunburned. Fighting off fatigue, the angler made a last-minute stop on the way back to check-in for one final cast. That decision netted him a 7-pound, 7-ounce largemouth, and cemented his Day 2 lead of the Elite Series’ Sooner Run on Grand Lake. McClelland led the pack for the second consecutive day with his total weight of 46-12, more than 12 pounds ahead of second-place angler Dean Rojas of Arizona, who had 34-11.

Having fished the lake nearly 60 times before, McClelland, of Bella Vista, Ark., doesn’t consider Grand Lake his home turf, but definitely feels like he has an edge over his competition. A three-time winner on the BASS tournament trail, McClelland now is positioning himself to add an Elite Series win to his list of accomplishments – potentially the largest of his career.

Fans can watch McClelland’s last-minute lunker and the battle for the $100,000 top prize on The CITGO Bassmasters aired Saturday, June 17 at 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

“It feels absolutely incredible to still be in the lead,” said McClelland. “Slowing down is the biggest key for me … picking a few good areas and fishing them thoroughly.”

McClelland wasn’t very confident earlier in the day. At noontime, the 33rd-ranked Bassmaster Elite Series Power Index angler had just a few keeper fish and it wasn’t until 3 p.m. that the late-afternoon bite turned on and he put two solid bass in the boat.

McClelland found his final bass at a place that had worked for him in the past. It delivered the biggest of the tournament, the Purolator Big Bass, and helped him earn the Busch Heavyweight Bag of the Day. For most of the day, he searched for offshore structure, specifically brush and rock piles, and fished jigs slowly along the bottom.

Five-time Classic qualifier and two-time BASS winner Rojas, meanwhile, reeled in a limit of 17 pounds, 12 ounces and said he keyed in on big fish in water no deeper than 10 feet. “I’m trying to be consistent,” said Rojas, the fourth-ranked angler on the Power Index and fifth-ranked in the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. “I’m trying to key in on fish that get me into the finals and in the cut.”

Ken Cook of Meers, Okla., continued to lead the charge of the Okies, bringing in a five-fish limit of 15-13 for a two-day total of 33-8, good enough for fifth place.

The top 50 Elite pros and co-anglers advance to Day 3. More than $673,000 is awarded to the top 50 pros as well as valuable points towards qualifying in the Bassmaster Majors, CITGO Bassmaster Classic and the race for the Angler of the Year award. Other Elite pros who made the top 50 cut include:

▪ Kentuckian Kevin Wirth in 10th place. Wirth brought in 17-11 ounces for a two-day total of 32-10. “I’m constantly looking for new water,” said Wirth. “I know within a couple casts if it’s got what I need.”

▪ Bassmaster Memorial winner Peter Thliveros, fresh off his $250,000 victory in Texas, in 22 nd place. Thliveros brought in 14-5 on Day 2 for a total of 30-1. “This lake is really showing itself as a good fishery and it’s just going to continue to improve,” he said. “I’m really looking ahead to getting points towards Angler of the Year and getting into the Classic.”

▪ Cleveland Heights, Ohio resident Frank Scalish in 32nd place. Scalish brought in 14-11 for a total of 28-3. “This is my kind of tournament, offshore is the way to go. It’s what I do best and where I’m most comfortable.”

On the co-angler side, Missouri angler Scott Campbell led the way with a two-day total of 20 pounds. If he can keep his lead, he’ll receive the co-angler top prize, a fully rigged Triton Boat with Mercury outboard worth $45,000.

Local Sponsors: Local sponsor include the Grand Lake Association, the City of Grove, and the North Beach Community.

CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series sponsors: Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Advanced Auto Parts and Theraseed®.

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.

BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit