McClelland kept his wits – and his concentration – despite being surrounded by nearly 40 spectator boats throughout the day. His limit included a 5-pound, 6-ounce bass that earned him the Purolator Big Bass bonus. That fish helped keep a comfortable cushion between McClelland and the rest of the field. For the second consecutive day, the nearest competitor to McClelland, Matt Reed of Texas, was still more than 11 pounds behind.
“It’s been a great week,” said McClelland. “I’ve never won a tournament here on Grand Lake…and I would sure love to put this one away.”
Nearly 2,000 fishing fans came out to the Day 3 weigh-in at the North Beach Development in Grove. But those who missed it can catch all of the big-bass action on The CITGO Bassmasters, Saturday, June 17 at 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
McClelland caught his first bass at 7:30 a.m. and had five by 9 a.m. He fished a variety of lures, including crankbaits, jigs and Zoom Brush Hogs.
“Getting off to a good start this morning boosted my confidence and when the big ones bit, it just made it better,” said the three-time CITGO Bassmaster Classic qualifier.
Reed, ranked 29th on the Bassmaster Elite Series Power Index, moved from fourth to second place on Saturday and also earned the Busch Heavy Weight Bag of the Day with 19-3, boosting his three-day total to 53 pounds. The one-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier keyed in on offshore structure, fishing jigs and worms along the bottom of rock piles.
This is Reed’s first visit to Grand Lake and he described the fishery as phenomenal. “I was fishing a rock pile when my lure got stuck, As I popped it lose, a 5-pounder just came up and ate it,” he said. “This is just an awesome lake.”
Californian Greg Gutierrez was in third, marking his first cut to the Elite 12 this season. Gutierrez weighed in 15-14 for a three-day total of 48-5. He fished jigs in shallow, offshore areas.
“I’ve got some great areas with a lot of fish to go to Sunday,” said Gutierrez, ranked 42nd on the Power Index. “Making the cut today really boosted my confidence and rejuvenated my desire to fish harder.”
Oklahomans Edwin Evers of Talala (7th) and Ken Cook of Meers (8th) are representing the Okies for the home crowd as they advance to the Elite 12 on Sunday. Evers weighed in 12-9 for a three-day total of 45-9, while Cook reeled in 11- 4, for a total of 44-12.
Also making the cut to the Elite 12 was Jeff Connella of Louisiana in fourth (48-2); Paul Elias of Mississippi and rookie Jami Fralick of South Dakota tied for fifth (47-3); Chad Brauer of Missouri, Aaron Martens of Alabama and Mike Iaconelli tired for ninth (44-1); and Dean Rojas of Arizona in 12th (43-10).
Also, Chris Koester of Rogers, Ark., beat out 49 other co-anglers with a three-day total of 26-6 to take home the trophy and a fully rigged Triton boat with Mercury engine worth $45,000. Koester has fished as a co-angler in other tournaments, the Sooner Run marked his BASS debut. “This is something I’ve always felt capable of doing,” he said, adding that he will try to repeat when he fishes last Elite Series tourney of the season, The Rock presented by TheraSeed, at Table Rock Lake in Kimberling City, Mo., in September.
The top 25 co-anglers competed for $115,400 in cash and merchandise.
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 www.bassmaster.com.