By BassFan Staff

Only 12 anglers can say they've won seven (or more) tournaments in the history of B.A.S.S. Mike McClelland would love to make it a baker's dozen tomorrow.

In order to do that, though, he'll have to hold off a group of heavyweights that includes reigning Angler of the Year Aaron Martens, seven-time AOY Kevin VanDam and three-time AOY Mark Davis, who happens to be leading the points again this season. Those three occupy the three spots immediately below McClelland in the standings after 3 days of the Table Rock Lake Bassmaster Elite Series.

It'll be a daunting task, but McClelland, who has three Elite Series wins among his six B.A.S.S. triumphs, is no slouch on Table Rock and he will leave the dock in the morning with nearly a 4-pound cushion over Martens, thanks to a 17-09 stringer he caught under tougher conditions today. Today's effort was his best of the event and it gave him a 3-day total of 49-13.

By comparison, the gap between 1st and 2nd on the first 2 days combined was 13 ounces.

"If you are looking in the rearview mirror, your chances of winning will diminish greatly," McClelland said. "I have to fish how I've fished the first 3 days."

Martens, who led after day 1, managed 12-14 today and has 45-14 overall. This is his seventh 12-cut in the last eight events dating back to last season.

VanDam made a sizable leap to 3rd from 37th behind a day-best 19-07 stringer that gave him 45-07 and clinched his first 12-cut in more than 2 years. Davis, the day-2 leader, weighed 11-12, and sits in 4th with 45-07 also. Jeff Kriet jumped 10 places to 5th with a 15-13 effort that pushed his total to 44-11.

Here's a look at the Top 12 entering the final day of competition, with the deficit margin from McClelland indicated by red numbers in parentheses:

1. Mike McClelland: 49-13
2. Aaron Martens: 45-14 (3-15)
3. Kevin VanDam: 45-07 (4-06)
4. Mark Davis: 45-07 (4-06)
5. Jeff Kriet: 44-11 (5-02)
6. Greg Hackney: 44-08 (5-05)
7. Bill Lowen: 44-05 (5-08)
8. Edwin Evers: 43-14 (5-15)
9. Brandon Palaniuk: 43-01 (6-12)
10. Kevin Hawk: 42-04 (7-09)
11. Cliff Prince: 41-15 (7-14)
12. Jared Lintner: 41-07 (8-06)

Bill Lowen matched VanDam's 34-place jump (41st to 7th) with an 18-13 stringer that earned him his first 12-cut since the 2013 season opener at the Sabine River. Kevin Hawk, coming off two miserable finishes to start the year, moved up 19 slots from 29th to 10th with a 15-11 bag that gave him 42-04.

Chris Lane's bid for a second straight win was snuffed out today as he came in with four fish and slid from 2nd to 17th.

Many anglers went into survival mode today as the wind that is always an important factor in the Ozarks slacked off. Big fish continue to be elusive and one of two big bites for someone on the final day could swing the outcome.

Tomorrow's conditions won't be as breezy as some may hope, but there should be some cloud cover as some afternoon rain is possible in the Branson, Mo., area.

McClelland Seeking Fourth Elite Win

> Day 3: 5, 17-09 (15, 49-13)

McClelland came into the day a little leery of how the conditions would impact his strategy. He came out of it with his heaviest stringer of the tournament and with somewhat of a commanding lead to boot.

"There's no doubt I was concerned about the conditions and I felt blessed to catch what I caught," he said. "I was fortunate to catch some fish that bit during extremely light wind conditions. It helped that I had a 5 1/2-pounder that really solidified my bag."

He said that fish came around noon in an area of a creek he hadn't fished all week.

B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina
Photo: B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina

McClelland's lead entering the final day is significantly larger than the gap between 1st and 2nd on either of the first 2 days.

"That usually is the most unlikely time in those conditions for something like that to bite," he added. "I caught one just about 4 pounds this morning and that allowed me to settle in. From there, I just grinded it out and settled it and fortunately it all came together."

He went through about 10 to 15 keepers, but also caught several others he knew wouldn't have helped him along the way. His bag had three largemouth and two smallmouth in it today.

"I felt like that was a good day for the conditions we had," he said. "I was absolutely blessed because it seemed every time I made a move, I was able to pick up a breeze everywhere I went. When I was running back in, I was stunned at how calm the lower end was. The wind is such a key here and I have to chase it every time it's there."

He's not so much married to an area or a spot, but more specifically a type of bank that he can roam around to and work through certain stretches.

"I feel like I'm covering the right kind of water in a certain section of the lake and I'm concentrating on specific stretches instead of certain spots," he added.

Entering the final day, he won't concern himself with how big his lead is.

"It doesn't play into my strategy because of the capability of this lake," he said. "Table Rock is one of the premier lakes in the Ozarks. It's capable of producing a 20-pound bag for anyone in the Top 12. I have to go out and fish to win. I can't go out and fish for a limit. You won't win that way."

The lake holds a lot of personal memories for McClelland, whose last Elite Series victory came at the Harris Chain in early 2008.

"I definitely think I can win," he said. "One thing is I've been blessed with a number of wins in my career, but it would mean a tremendous amount to win on this lake. I've won some team tournaments here and won a Central Pro-Am event years ago that helped me push me to pursue my dream of fishing professionally.

"To win an Elite Series event here would be unbelievable. I have a lot of fond memories here and I know a lot of people from around here that have cheered me on and supported me over the years."

2nd: Big Bites Eluded Martens

> Day 3: 5, 12-14 (15, 45-14)

Martens knows this lake is capable of producing difference-making fish. He's caught two of them this week. He just needs another one or two to show themselves tomorrow for him to have a chance to track down McClelland.

"I needed a big one today," said Martens, who's after his third regular-season Elite Series victory. "It's too tight for my liking right now. McClelland knows this lake well and that's a pretty big lead for this lake. He could have a bad day, though. You never know. I need to have a big bag to have a chance, or a big fish."

He didn't make many adjustments today as he continued to catch fish cranking and on the Megabass Vision OneTen jerkbait.

B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina
Photo: B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina

Kevin VanDam made his first 12-cut since early 2012, thanks to this 7-08 brute.

"I didn't need to (adjust) that much," he said. "They bit pretty good. I threw a worm a little bit and caught some smaller fish. It's just hard to get a big one. I never lost a big one today and never had one on.

"I have to do the same thing just in a different place and hope to find something special. It's definitely warming up and it could get really good. It's a challenge, though. You have to have a good bite here."

He revealed he's been fishing some of the same water as VanDam this week.

"I'm fishing some stuff after he does and he's fishing some stuff after I do," he said. "We're kind of jumping around each other and that's probably not a good thing."

3rd: 7 1/2 Aided VanDam's Cause

> Day 3: 5, 19-07 (15, 45-07)

After his day-3 weight was announced on stage today and it became apparent his 3-day total was going to be enough to clinch a spot among the final 12 anglers, VanDam sounded relieved.

"Well, it's about time," he said. Its been a couple of years since I made it. This is a lake that I know real well, so I was disappointed after the first two days. I was very fortunate to get the big bite today. Hopefully, I can get some more tomorrow.

The bite he referenced was a 7 1/2-pounder that anchored his bag. He said it came in an area he's caught good-sized fish at before.

"There's no doubt that all of the time I've spent down here on media trips for Bass Pro Shops and Nitro have helped me learn the lake," he said. "It's the epitome of a pattern lake and that's how I'm approaching it.

"The sad part of it is we had incredible conditions fishing wise the first 2 days and I didn't capitalize. I didn't catch any big ones. It's very random to catch a big fish here now. I got lucky today and caught one. I was surprised the first 2 days I didn't a 5-pound bite because in practice I was getting several a day, but I don't anybody can say for sure they'll go out and catch a 5. It's hard to do."

Of all of the lakes he's fished, he says Table Rock ranks among the toughest to string together consistently strong days. This week appears to lend more credence to his theory.

"That's bit me in the past here," he said. "You'll have two good days and then a tough day. It seems like the only guy who's been able to put it together each day is Mike, and I knew after practice he was going to be tough this week. I don't know for sure, but I think we're fishing a lot alike."

4th: Davis' Quantity Dipped

> Day 3: 5, 11-12 (15, 45-07)

The law of averages seemed to catch up to Davis today. The quantity of fish he caught dropped off about 40 percent and so, too, did the quality. His 11-12 was by far his smallest stringer of the derby.

"I just didn't catch the right ones," he said.

He stuck with the same technique and bait that's been working all week swimming and dragging a Strike King Rage Menace twin-tail grub (green-pumpkin) rigged on a wobble-head jig with 17-pound fluorocarbon line. Every fish he's weighed in and the majority of fish he's caught have come on that set up.

"I've caught so many fish on it, Strike King had to overnight me another 100 of them," he said. "I started throwing it practice and I've just stayed with it. For whatever reason today, I just couldn't connect with any quality bites."

He figured the conditions would get tougher today with the wind tapering off, but he though he could at least connect with one or two decent fish like he has been.

"I was surprised by that, especially with as many as I've been catching and as many as I'm around," he said. "For whatever reason and it can happen to any guy out here, it happened to me. I put my hands on 40 bass today and I'd been catching 80. That's 30 fewer bass and the average comes down if you don't catch as many."

B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina
Photo: B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina

Mark Davis caught plenty of fish today, just not the quality he'd caught earlier in the tournament.

He's still not counting himself out, not after making his fourth consecutive 12-cut going back to last season.

"Anyone in the Top 12 can stumble and anyone could crush 'em tomorrow," he said. "It's not over. That 4 1/2-pound gap can be made up with one bite. What happened to me today can happen to any one of my competitors. They could go out and catch 50 or 60 fish and only come in with 11 or 12 pounds. It's not out of reach for me. I'm definitely looking forward to tomorrow.

"I'm probably going to change up water and try to catch some big fish. I have a good lead in the AOY and while I know I need all the points I can get, I'm going to gamble a little and target some areas with bigger fish."

5th: Kriet Sticking to Clear Water

> Day 3: 5, 15-13 (15, 44-11)

Kriet came into the tournament with a good vibe and it's carried on through the competition. After weighing 14-plus pounds each of the first 2 days, he brought nearly 16 to the scales today despite what he called a slower day keeper wise.

"I felt real good about this tournament," he said. "I had a pretty good practice and I like fishing this deep, clear stuff."

He said he's been fishing some up the White River, but he's had good success on the lower end of the lake catching suspended fish with a crankbait and jerkbait and some light-line techniques.

"I need sun and I don't want a whole lot of wind, mainly for selfish reasons because I dont want the crankers to catch 'em," he said. "I was concerned the first 2 days because the weather wasn't great for what I was doing. I could still catch them, but I got a little behind.

"Today, I got the right conditions, but I didn't catch a lot of keepers and it was a tough fishing day honestly. I don't think a lot of guys caught a lot of keepers."

He believes there's a chance he could overcome the 5-pound deficit he's facing tomorrow.

"I think there's the potential to catch a 20-pound bag," he said. "I could've caught that one day in practice and there are big bites to be had doing what I'm doing. I think I'd have to have 18 and hope the others stumble to have a shot.

"McClelland's pretty good here. He's fished the lake a lot and knows it and he'd really have to stumble to not win."

Notable

> Day 3 stats 50 anglers, 38 limits, 4 fours, 5 threes, 3 twos.

> Brent Chapman, who finished 28th, was a little bummed out he never collided with a quality keeper bite during the tournament. To check out his tournament recap, click here to read BassFan's Pro View Report.

Weather Forecast

> Sun., April 6 Mostly Cloudy 61/43
Wind: From the ESE at 5 to 10 mph

Day 3 Standings

1. Mike McClelland -- Bella Vista, AR -- 15, 49-13 -- 100
Day 1: 5, 15-06 -- Day 2: 5, 16-14 -- Day 3: 5, 17-09

2. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, AL -- 15, 45-14 -- 99
Day 1: 5, 18-11 -- Day 2: 5, 14-05 -- Day 3: 5, 12-14

3. Kevin VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 15, 45-07 -- 98
Day 1: 5, 14-00 -- Day 2: 5, 12-00 -- Day 3: 5, 19-07

4. Mark Davis -- Mount Ida, AR -- 15, 45-07 -- 97 -- $500
Day 1: 5, 18-08 -- Day 2: 5, 15-03 -- Day 3: 5, 11-12

5. Jeff Kriet -- Ardmore, OK -- 15, 44-11 -- 96
Day 1: 5, 14-10 -- Day 2: 5, 14-04 -- Day 3: 5, 15-13

6. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, LA -- 15, 44-08 -- 95
Day 1: 5, 16-00 -- Day 2: 5, 14-10 -- Day 3: 5, 13-14

7. Bill Lowen -- Brookville, IN -- 15, 44-05 -- 94
Day 1: 5, 11-06 -- Day 2: 5, 14-02 -- Day 3: 5, 18-13

8. Edwin Evers -- Talala, OK -- 15, 43-14 -- 93
Day 1: 5, 17-04 -- Day 2: 5, 13-09 -- Day 3: 5, 13-01

9. Brandon Palaniuk -- Hayden, ID -- 15, 43-01 -- 92
Day 1: 5, 16-13 -- Day 2: 5, 13-10 -- Day 3: 5, 12-10

10. Kevin Hawk -- Guntersville, AL -- 15, 42-04 -- 91
Day 1: 5, 10-06 -- Day 2: 5, 16-03 -- Day 3: 5, 15-11

11. Cliff Prince -- Palatka, FL -- 15, 41-15 -- 90
Day 1: 5, 09-06 -- Day 2: 5, 19-10 -- Day 3: 5, 12-15

12. Jared Lintner -- Arroyo Grande, CA -- 15, 41-07 -- 89
Day 1: 5, 12-06 -- Day 2: 5, 17-15 -- Day 3: 5, 11-02

The following anglers did not make the cut and will not fish on day 4.

13. Skeet Reese -- Auburn, CA -- 15, 40-13 -- 88 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-00 -- Day 2: 5, 12-14 -- Day 3: 5, 11-15

14. Paul Elias -- Laurel, MS -- 15, 40-13 -- 87 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-08 -- Day 2: 5, 14-15 -- Day 3: 5, 11-06

15. Morizo Shimizu -- Osaka JAPAN -- 15, 40-10 -- 86 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-09 -- Day 2: 5, 16-06 -- Day 3: 5, 11-11

16. Casey Scanlon -- Lanexa, KS -- 15, 40-09 -- 85 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-14 -- Day 2: 5, 12-03 -- Day 3: 5, 14-08

17. Chris Lane -- Guntersville, AL -- 14, 40-07 -- 84 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 18-05 -- Day 2: 5, 14-12 -- Day 3: 4, 07-06

18. Tim Horton -- Muscle Shoals, AL -- 15, 40-06 -- 83 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 11-07 -- Day 2: 5, 18-06 -- Day 3: 5, 10-09

19. Britt Myers -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 15, 40-00 -- 82 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-02 -- Day 2: 5, 14-06 -- Day 3: 5, 10-08

20. Rick Morris -- Lake Gaston, VA -- 15, 39-14 -- 81 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 11-11 -- Day 2: 5, 13-04 -- Day 3: 5, 14-15

21. Bobby Lane -- Lakeland, FL -- 15, 39-02 -- 80 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-08 -- Day 2: 5, 13-02 -- Day 3: 5, 11-08

22. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 15, 39-01 -- 79 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 11-15 -- Day 2: 5, 12-15 -- Day 3: 5, 14-03

23. Jason Christie -- Park Hill, OK -- 15, 39-00 -- 78 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 11-12 -- Day 2: 5, 15-01 -- Day 3: 5, 12-03

24. Kelley Jaye -- Dadeville, AL -- 15, 38-10 -- 77 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 15-09 -- Day 2: 5, 12-05 -- Day 3: 5, 10-12

25. Scott Rook -- Little Rock, AR -- 15, 38-02 -- 76 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-04 -- Day 2: 5, 11-09 -- Day 3: 5, 13-05

26. Billy McCaghren -- Mayflower, AR -- 15, 37-15 -- 75 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-11 -- Day 2: 5, 12-07 -- Day 3: 5, 10-13

27. Casey Ashley -- Donalds, SC -- 15, 37-10 -- 74 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-06 -- Day 2: 5, 13-10 -- Day 3: 5, 11-10

28. Brent Chapman -- Lake Quivira, KS -- 15, 37-07 -- 73 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-02 -- Day 2: 5, 13-02 -- Day 3: 5, 10-03

29. Keith Poche -- Pike Road, AL -- 15, 37-06 -- 72 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 11-01 -- Day 2: 5, 15-02 -- Day 3: 5, 11-03

30. Randy Howell -- Springville, AL -- 15, 37-03 -- 71 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-06 -- Day 2: 5, 12-12 -- Day 3: 5, 12-01

31. John Crews Jr -- Salem, VA -- 15, 37-02 -- 70 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-12 -- Day 2: 5, 11-06 -- Day 3: 5, 12-00

32. Jacob Powroznik -- Port Haywood, VA -- 15, 36-15 -- 69 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-00 -- Day 2: 5, 14-02 -- Day 3: 5, 10-13

33. Michael Iaconelli -- Pitts Grove, NJ -- 15, 36-13 -- 68 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-04 -- Day 2: 5, 14-08 -- Day 3: 5, 10-01

34. Gary Klein -- Weatherford, TX -- 15, 36-08 -- 67 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-03 -- Day 2: 5, 11-12 -- Day 3: 5, 10-09

35. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 14, 36-06 -- 66 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-05 -- Day 2: 5, 14-03 -- Day 3: 4, 09-14

36. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 15, 36-05 -- 65 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 10-11 -- Day 2: 5, 14-07 -- Day 3: 5, 11-03

37. Kurt Dove -- Del Rio, TX -- 15, 36-05 -- 64 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-14 -- Day 2: 5, 12-12 -- Day 3: 5, 09-11

38. Stephen Browning -- Hot Springs, AR -- 14, 36-04 -- 63 -- $10,000
Day 1: 4, 10-13 -- Day 2: 5, 14-12 -- Day 3: 5, 10-11

39. Chad Pipkens -- Holt, MI -- 15, 35-13 -- 62 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 11-01 -- Day 2: 5, 13-11 -- Day 3: 5, 11-01

40. Kelly Jordon -- Palestine, TX -- 15, 35-10 -- 61 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 10-05 -- Day 2: 5, 14-14 -- Day 3: 5, 10-07

41. Marty Robinson -- Lyman, SC -- 13, 35-08 -- 60 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-02 -- Day 2: 5, 15-08 -- Day 3: 3, 06-14

42. David Mullins -- Mt Carmel, TN -- 13, 35-03 -- 59 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 13-00 -- Day 2: 5, 14-13 -- Day 3: 3, 07-06

43. Todd Faircloth -- Jasper, TX -- 13, 34-06 -- 58 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-05 -- Day 2: 5, 15-03 -- Day 3: 3, 06-14

44. Gerald Swindle -- Warrior, AL -- 14, 34-03 -- 57 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 12-01 -- Day 2: 5, 14-09 -- Day 3: 4, 07-09

45. Rick Clunn -- Ava, MO -- 13, 33-08 -- 56 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 14-10 -- Day 2: 5, 11-09 -- Day 3: 3, 07-05

46. Chad Morgenthaler -- Coulterville, IL -- 13, 33-04 -- 55 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 10-06 -- Day 2: 5, 16-03 -- Day 3: 3, 06-11

47. Fletcher Shryock -- New Philadelphia, OH -- 12, 33-00 -- 54 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 16-08 -- Day 2: 5, 11-05 -- Day 3: 2, 05-03

48. Yusuke Miyazaki -- Forney, TX -- 13, 32-05 -- 53 -- $10,000
Day 1: 4, 13-01 -- Day 2: 5, 11-10 -- Day 3: 4, 07-10

49. Ott DeFoe -- Knoxville, TN -- 12, 32-02 -- 52 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 11-00 -- Day 2: 5, 17-02 -- Day 3: 2, 04-00

50. James Niggemeyer -- Van, TX -- 12, 30-04 -- 51 -- $10,000
Day 1: 5, 11-03 -- Day 2: 5, 15-03 -- Day 3: 2, 03-14