(Industry rep Alan McGuckin passed along this piece about Elite Series pro Mike McClelland from BASSFest over the weekend).
Few men in professional bass fishing have won more Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments than Mike McClelland.
The recognizable blue trophies have stacked up slowly, but really, really, surely on the mantel of his Northwest Arkansas home. And BASSFest reflected well “Pee Paw’s” slow, methodical, but very successful, approach.
Ten minutes before official blast-off, he finally arrived at the launch ramp. He was literally the last pro to back his boat in the water.
Actually, his best friend and bride of 12 years, Stacy, backed their LEER-covered Tundra down the Lake Chickamauga boat ramp at 6:52 Saturday morning, grinned, and said, “We’re always last, we’re gonna have to get with it.”
McClelland already “got with it.”
After a great practice on Lake Chickamauga, Wednesday and Thursday’s derby days weren’t so kind and he missed the cut, earning him a trip to Nickajack on Friday for the “Second Chance” round. He caught 13 pounds, finished 10th, and secured a another day of competition at Chickamauga.
As a result, McClelland was literally the last angler officially entered into this weekend’s final rounds of competition.
His traveling partner and fellow pro, Jeff Kriet, nicknamed him “Pee Paw” based on McClelland’s highly-organized, way-more-mature-than-his-46 birthdays, approach to life.
Kriet has a point, but know this: McClelland might move faster if his life’s daily travels weren’t slowed by his penchant for taking care of others. McClelland’s nature is to make sure everybody around him has what they need. That takes time. That takes heart.
Heart could've lead to a 30-pound limit at Chickamauga.
“He caught a 6-pounder and watched a 10-pounder spit his lure out in practice,” Stacy said. “He had a great practice here on Chickamauga. He just had a horrible day Wednesday, but he loves this BASSFest format. There’s no points to get stressed out about, and by making it back into the cut, we’re assured a check for at least $10,000 – it’s awesome.
“As soon as he weighed his fish at Nickajack, a huge storm approached, and we hurried away from weigh-in to drive back to Dayton, so we had no idea that his 13 pounds would make the cut,” Stacy continued. “Our son Justin was back home watching the leaderboard, and told Mike, 'Dad, you made the cut.' Mike’s face just got flushed when Justin told him, and I’m getting goosebumps just telling you about it."
Don’t be shocked if the short on height, big on heart, Pee Paw makes a run at another blue trophy this season. And don’t be surprised if he’s the last one to arrive at the ramp either.
“It stresses me out, but it doesn’t stress him out at all,” says Stacy. “He says it’s good to get here last because there’s nobody in line, no standing around listening to dock talk and gossip. Oh trust me, it doesn’t bother him one bit.”
Apparently not – he’s got seven B.A.S.S. wins and $1.5 million in prize money to prove that slowly but really surely works just fine.