For Mike McClelland and son Justin, fishing has always been a way for the two to come together, whether on camping trips along the White River or bass fishing at lakes around northwest Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma.
For years, though, fishing kept them apart, too, as Mike traveled extensively as he built a successful career as an Elite Series pro. This summer, the McClelland boys are back together as Justin gets his first taste of high-level tournament fishing in the Bassmaster Central and Northern Opens. He’d made a deal with his father that before he’d pursue a career in fishing, he would earn his college degree, which he did this spring.
Father and son will travel together, practice together and compete against each other on the pro side. It figures to be a rewarding experience for both. Justin and Mike have agreed to share their experiences with BassFan through periodic entries in what’ll be called the Open Road Journal. In the first entry, in advance of this week’s Central Open at the Arkansas River, Justin introduces himself and offers some background as to why he’s been looking forward to what this summer may hold.
We all want to follow in our father’s footsteps. Read Story
McClelland, a four-time Elite Series winner, had no qualms about his runner-up showing this time.
"I'm tickled to death with a 2nd-place finish," he said. "Anytime you run that far that many days in a row, it's a big gamble. With the conditions I had to face, I was blessed.
"Everything had to all into place for me to finish as good as I did."
He's been in contention in all three events he's competed in this year – he was 8th at the Classic and 13th at the Ross Barnett Central Open after leading on day 1.
"I do feel like I'm fishing well. I've got a lot of confidence and a lot of good momentum going right now. It's really kind of strange, but when I look back on all the years of my career, the only year I really competed for the Angler of the Year (he was 3rd in 2008) was the year I won the first event at the Harris Chain.
"A good start is such a momentum-builder to even have a chance for Angler of the Year."
He caught six keepers today and missed three others. His 4-02 bag topper was the biggest fish of the day. Full Story