When the scales closed yesterday at the Clarks Hill Bassmaster Elite Series, sophomore Chris Lane held a 5-pound lead, which meant he needed to catch around 13 pounds to potentially lock things up.

He came close (12-04), but it wasn't enough to hold off the stampeding Mike McClelland, who shocked the field with a 20-pound limit and overtook Lane to win by a final margin of 1-07.

In the end, it came down to a battle of new water vs. old. Lane lived and died on a single spot today, while McClelland ditched pretty much everything he had and went looking.

Lane's schoolers might have held up if not for McClelland's bruiser limit, which began first thing this morning with a 5-pounder.

Once McClelland had that one in the box, and a few others, he was able to slow down

and pick apart new water with his jig, which he'd thrown all week.

The victory was McClelland's second at the tour level in as many years. But the seeds of what happened today were planted back in 2005.

BassFans likely remember his personal tragedy, when he lost his ex-wife and daughter in a car accident in 2001. He took 2 years off from fishing, then returned to competition. Soon after, he won the 2005 Bassmaster Open Championship. The year after, he won the Grand Lake Elite Series, which all set the stage for today.

Each year, another win, and through it all, he's climbed to become one of the Top 25 anglers in the world.

He opened the event with 20-09, followed up with 17-04, slipped a little yesterday with 12-11, then closed today with 19-15 for 70-04 (an average of 17 1/2 pounds a day).

Pete Ponds, who began the day in 2nd, caught 14-05 today and finished 3rd with 66-01.

John Crews roped 16-12 today and climbed five spots to finish 4th with 61-01.

Rookie phenom Derek Remitz, who some have taken to calling "Wolverine," bagged 13-05 to finish 5th (where he started the day).

McClelland: Right Place, Time

About his emotions, McClelland said: "I feel wowed. After the first day, I had a pretty good feeling, but I was really disappointed and discouraged yesterday to let myself get as far behind as I did.

"I felt if I could catch a good one or two, (winning) was pretty achievable. But with Chris catching them as good as he was, that put a little concern in me."

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McClelland believes he was put in the right place at the right time today.

He noted that he caught better quality fish overall today, and more keepers than he had any day this week. His biggest weighed more than 5, and he had a 3 1/2 and 4 to go with it.

About his day, he said: "I absolutely flew by the seat of my pants. I found one shoal yesterday. I stopped on it late yesterday afternoon and caught a 4-pounder with 10 minutes to go. I had two more bites there I didn't catch, and my partner lost a good one.

"That just made me kind of stop and think that, with the boat traffic being down to 12 boats, I'd try some new stuff. The stuff I was fishing was beat up pretty bad. Derek Remitz and Kevin VanDam had taken good bags off it, and I was concerned about whether or not it would hold up.

"I really went out today with the mindset to do everything I could to fish some new water," he added. "The wind blew a little bit, and I was able to go back to the way I fish the clear-water lakes back home (in Arkansas). I just chased wind all day. And any point that had the right structure, I'd pull up and fish it."

About this win compared to his one at Grand Lake last year, he said: "This one is really pretty awesome, because Grand was one of those deals where I knew I had to catch them the last day, but I was pretty confident with the lead I had. This one means a lot – to come back from behind, and a pretty big deficit.

"It could very easily have been one of those days where I thought, 'There's no way I can catch (Lane).' But I didn't let that happen. I was focusing on 2nd, but after I caught that 5-pounder, I knew I could fish for the win. I never put the jig down the rest of the day.

"It was the best day I had all week."

When he started his career, he won two events in 1996, then leveled off. After he came back, it took a year to get moving again, and it seems he's at the top of his game now. About the quality of his fishing this year, compared to years past, he said: "I'm fishing a lot smarter. I used to go out with the thought in my mind, 'Man, I hope I can catch five.'

"I very seldom go out with that in the front of my mind now. I'm a lot more mature now than I was. I got started off at a fairly young age, and I was pretty immature. I'm a lot wiser now. I'm very comfortable with my family – I have a great support team at home – and a lot of things contribute to my success."

He added: "I'm a firm believer that the Good Lord puts us in the right place at the right time. Today was a perfect example. The point where I caught two or three of my weighers off of, I haven't run by it all week. I caught four or five in 10 throws. I believe the Good Lord puts us in those places at the right time."

His key bait all week was a 1/2-ounce Jewel Heavy Cover Finesse football jig in peanut butter and jelly, tipped with a green-pumpkin/purple Zoom Super Chunk.

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Chris Lane said one thing he'll always remember about this day is his 5-year-old son Cal standing on the bank and yelling to him to catch a fish.

It was the same jig he threw at Grand last year, except here he used a larger skirt. Details of his winning pattern, and pattern information for the other top finishers, will be posted soon.

2nd: Lane Loves Finish

If Lane was disappointed in his finish, he didn't show it.

"I feel awesome," he said. "To come into this tournament with my expectations a little low, and where I finished – I did the best I could. I did a lot better than I thought I would up here. Mike McClelland caught them."

His goal coming in was a Top 50, both for the check, and the points, which affect qualifying for the upcoming Bassmaster Majors.

Asked to note what kept him from winning, he said: "I just think it's the one fish I needed. I don't think it ever bit today. That was the difference for me. The fish were there."

He noted too that he had a lot of spectators today, which was a first for him at this level. "It was great having them there," he said.

And he added: "To wrap the tournament up as a whole, Mike McClelland did a great job today. There were some very high-caliber guys here today. So to finish where I did, I'm very happy with that.

"It makes me want the next one even more."

Something that he said will always stand out about today was his 5-year-old son Cal, standing on the bank and yelling to him to catch a fish. "That was a special moment for me. It was one of the neatest things ever. I really appreciate him doing that."

3rd: Ponds Pleased

Ponds suffered much the same fate as Lane – he didn't run out of fish, he just ran out of quality.

Abut his finish, Ponds said: "I would have loved to have won, but I'll take 3rd in every tournament if I can get it. I'm very pleased with it."

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Pete Ponds left his best spot once today, but quickly returned and didn't leave again until check-in.

"I feel good about it," he added. "I knew Chris had a 5-pound lead, and in the area I was fishing, I didn't really believe I could gain 5 pounds on him. I was in the back end of a pocket, and I'd already worn them out real good on day 3 trying to make the Top 12 cut."

He pulled the plug once today and went to check another area, but that was short-lived and he returned. He was about to leave again when he caught a 4-pounder, so he stayed for the rest of the day.

4th: Crews Happy

About his move up from 9th to finish 4th, Crews said: "I feel good about it. And I feel real good about my day today. It's funny, because I didn't catch as many fish, but I just happened to get some bigger bites.

"When it's your turn to win, it'll happen," he added. "I'm always confident of that. And if you don't put yourself in contention to win, or somewhat in contention, you can't. I was 11 pounds out – that was the tough part to overcome today."

Overall, Clarks has been good to him, and this is his second consecutive Top 12 here. About the fishery, he said: "It's definitely a tough lake to fish because it's so big, and the blueback herring in it make the fish act real funny. But this year compared to last year, it was like two different lakes. I was doing two totally different things."

5th: Remitz Happy Too

Chalk up another Top 5 for Remitz – his third of year. And the other two included a win and a 2nd. He's stoked about his finish here, but he's already thinking about Guntersville, which is where he begins practice tomorrow morning.

"I'm very, very, very happy with it," he said of his finish. "After the way my practice went, I was just wanting to walk out of here with a Top 75."

About Guntersville, he said: "I feel pretty good going in. I got to learn quite a good deal about it over the winter when I moved down there. I'm pretty comfortable fishing around that grass, and I'd be very happy to get a Top 50 there."

6th: Reese Climbed Each Day

Elite Series Angler of the Year (AOY) leader Skeet Reese continued his tear today. After a 46th-place position on day 1, he climbed to 19th, then to 8th, and with 14-02 today, he ended in 6th.

He therefore maintains his 1st-place position in the AOY race. Also notable: This was his fourth consecutive Top 12 of the season, and his sixth consecutive Top 12 dating back to last season.

"For me to pull off a Top 12 finish this week – I'm tickled to death," he said.

About his AOY lead, he noted: "There's a lot of fishing to be done. I've had a great start. I've made every cut so far, and it's been a heck of a run. But It can't last forever. I have to assume that somewhere down the line I'll choke. There's too many great anglers out there who'll rise to the occasion."

He said his key was to keep looking every day. What he learned during his 3 days of practice was "useless," so he fished all new water on day 1 and caught some splitshot and spinnerbait fish. On day 2, he ran all new water again.

"I finally stumbled onto an area with some good fish, and I went back to those yesterday and caught 17 pounds."

He added that he caught most of his fish on a 3/8-ounce jig and a Lucky Craft Sammy. "I just junk-fished, and pulled one out of somewhere this week."

7th: Hudgins Sight-Fished

Florida rookie Bryan Hudgins had never fished Clarks before, so he tried to key on each different area of the lake during practice. He couldn't develop a pattern, so he went into the event with spawning fish, and that's what he relied on.

He noted: "On the last day of practice, I found the coldest water in the lake. Usually you look for the warmest stuff (this time of year), but (the cold water) seemed to push a lot of spawning fish back.

"Luckily, some of them pulled up this week. The first day, I got to catch a couple of the big fish. On the second and third days, I lost some fish, and had motor problems.

"I didn't lose any fish today, but didn't see any big fish to throw at. I have no regrets about today."

8th: Ashley Tasted It

Local ace and rookie Casey Ashley held the lead on day 1, when he weighed 22-06, but it was all downhill from there. He weighed 11-06 today and finished 8th. It was the first tour-level Top 12 of his career (he finished 13th at Clear Lake).

"I could taste it the first day," he said. "I went out the second day and did the same thing, but the big bites weren't there.

"I lost a few fish along the way, but I wouldn't change anything (I did).

"I'd like to thank all my friends and family for coming here and supporting me all week, and the fans," he added.

9th: Short Thrilled

Kevin Short got on a roll late last season with three consecutive Top 6s, but this was his first Top 12 this year.

"I just never really got any quality bites today, and to be honest, I'm not really sure why," he said. "But I was thrilled to death to make it to day 4. If you don't make it to this day, you don't have a prayer to win it. So I'm happy."

This is his third time to Clarks, and he's improved with each visit. "Each time I've been here, I've been able to figure out a little more and a little more," he said. "It's probably one of the most unique fisheries we go to – the way the lake's laid out, and the way the fish relate to structure. It's a special place, no doubt."

He added that his best fish came off a single main-lake point. They were still there today, but he couldn't get them to go. Eventually, frustration set in.

"They were coming up and showing themselves and laughing at me. I could see their tongues when they came up. It was one those days where I wanted to open up the (tackle)box and dump it in the water and say, 'Okay, what do you want? Take something, please.'"


> Day 4 stats – 12 anglers, 12 limits.

> To view the updated Elite Series AOY standings, click here..

> Ashley sang the National Anthem before blast-off each morning.

> Fred Roumbanis, who finished 10th, noted: "I ran out of fish, so I put the trolling motor on 100 mph and covered a lot of bank, then stopped when I saw one on a bed. It seems like the big females are coming up right now. The water temperature's getting right. It's unbelievable how many fish I saw today."

> Ish Monroe said of his 12th-place finish: "I'm feeling pretty good. For as bad as I fished this week, I finished very well."

Day 4 (Final) Standings

1. Mike McClelland -- Bella Vista, Ark. -- 20, 70-07 -- 305 -- $102,000
Day 1: 5, 20-09 -- Day 2: 5, 17-04 -- Day 3: 5, 12-11 -- Day 4: 5, 19-15

2. Chris Lane -- Winter Haven, Fla. -- 20, 69-00 -- 305 -- $30,000
Day 1: 5, 20-06 -- Day 2: 5, 17-09 -- Day 3: 5, 18-13 -- Day 4: 5, 12-04

3. Pete Ponds -- Madison, Miss. -- 20, 66-01 -- 290 -- $25,000
Day 1: 5, 21-01 -- Day 2: 5, 14-06 -- Day 3: 5, 16-05 -- Day 4: 5, 14-05

4. John Crews -- Salem, Va. -- 20, 61-01 -- 285 -- $18,000
Day 1: 5, 16-09 -- Day 2: 5, 13-00 -- Day 3: 5, 14-12 -- Day 4: 5, 16-12

5. Derek Remitz -- Hemphill, Texas -- 20, 59-09 -- 280 -- $17,000
Day 1: 5, 15-09 -- Day 2: 5, 20-00 -- Day 3: 5, 10-11 -- Day 4: 5, 13-05

6. Skeet Reese -- Auburn, Calif. -- 20, 58-12 -- 276 -- $15,500
Day 1: 5, 10-06 -- Day 2: 5, 17-04 -- Day 3: 5, 17-00 -- Day 4: 5, 14-02

7. Bryan Hudgins -- Orange Park, Fla. -- 20, 58-06 -- 272 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 19-11 -- Day 2: 5, 15-00 -- Day 3: 5, 10-08 -- Day 4: 5, 13-03

8. Casey Ashley -- Donalds, S.C. -- 20, 57-09 -- 273 -- $23,500
Day 1: 5, 22-06 -- Day 2: 5, 14-08 -- Day 3: 5, 9-05 -- Day 4: 5, 11-06

9. Kevin Short -- Mayflower, Ark. -- 20, 56-09 -- 264 -- $14,000
Day 1: 5, 15-06 -- Day 2: 5, 16-07 -- Day 3: 5, 15-07 -- Day 4: 5, 9-05

10. Fred Roumbanis -- Auburn, Calif. -- 20, 56-07 -- 260 -- $13,500
Day 1: 5, 11-07 -- Day 2: 5, 17-11 -- Day 3: 5, 14-12 -- Day 4: 5, 12-09

11. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, Ala. -- 20, 54-05 -- 257 -- $12,500
Day 1: 5, 16-07 -- Day 2: 5, 12-12 -- Day 3: 5, 13-14 -- Day 4: 5, 11-04

12. Ishama Monroe -- Hughson, Calif. -- 20, 52-13 -- 254 -- $14,300
Day 1: 5, 9-14 -- Day 2: 5, 14-05 -- Day 3: 5, 19-12 -- Day 4: 5, 8-14

Big Bass

> Day 4 -- Mike McClelland -- Bella Vista, Ark. -- 5-13 -- $1,000
> Day 3 -- Ishama Monroe -- Hughson, Calif. -- 7-10 -- $1,000
> Day 2 -- Brent Chapman -- Moneta, Va. -- 8-05 -- $1,000
> Day 1 -- Edwin Evers -- Talala, Okla. -- 8-02 -- $1,000