GROVE - The conditions on Grand Lake are different than they were a year ago for the Sooner Run.
That's going to be a factor as the Bassmaster Elite Series begins competition today.
“It's really going to be a much different tournament this year than last year because of the high water level, and water color is really going to play havoc on anyone planning to structure fish,” said last year's winner, Mike McClelland of Bella Vista, Ark.
“The fish just aren't out there deep, and I'm fishing much more shallow right now,” he said. “Last year I was pretty zeroed in on one depth and style, but this year is different. I think there's going to be a couple of good bags caught, but I'm not sure if it will be consistent for one person every day.”
Daily launches and weigh-ins are open to the public at North Beach Development, 61201 East 270 Road. Anglers launch at 5:50 a.m. and weigh in at 3 p.m.
There's 108 pros and 108 co-anglers in the field, but that will be cut to the top 50 following Friday's competition.
There will be another cut after Saturday's competition, with the top 12 pros fishing on Sunday.
“The bass are in different depths and you have to cover all facets and possibilities of where they may be,” said McClelland, a four-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier who won last year's tournament with a total catch of 20 fish weighing 79 pounds, 7 ounces.
His biggest one-day catch was 25 pounds, 3 ounces on Day 2. That and limits each day helped him coast.
This year, McClelland plans on using a variety of lures, including Carolina rigs, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and Texas-rigged worms. He's estimating it will take 60 pounds to win the tournament.
“I'm catching a lot of fish, but not many big bass,” said Terry Butcher of Talala, a former BASS winner and 96th in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings.
“I think the lake is off just a little bit because the water dirtied up quite a bit and slowed that deep bite down quite a bit,” Butcher said. “The fishing has been steady the last couple days, and the water is starting to clear, so I think you'll see some good sacks weighed in.”
Highlights of the Sooner Run will air on The Bassmasters at 8 a.m. June 30 on ESPN2 (Cableone Ch. 31).