Ultimate Bass

Elite Series Returns to Grand Lake

Elite Series Returns to Grand LakeCELEBRATION, Fla. — This year, the Sooner Run is about three weeks later than usual, but the June 21-24 Bassmaster Elite Series tournament is shaping up to be a big-bass shootout, like last June’s event.

Officially named Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, the 59,200-acre Oklahoma reservoir promises to continue the Elite Series tradition of putting the country’s best fishermen on top waters at prime times of the year.

At stake for the Elite Series anglers is a $100,000 top prize and valuable points toward the 2008 Bassmaster Classic.

“I think it’s going to be another real good tournament,” said Mike McClelland, who posted a 16-pound victory in this tournament last June. “We’ll be there at a good time.”

McClelland should know. In addition to being the defending champion, he grew up in northwestern Arkansas in Bella Vista, a little more than an hour’s drive from Grand. Through the years, he has fished more than 100 tournament days on the lake.

At 64 miles long and with 1,300 miles of shoreline, Grand Lake is a bass enthusiast’s playground. Located in the lush, green rolling hills of northeastern Oklahoma, the lake was created in 1940 by a mile-long dam across the Neosho River. The lake, which has an average depth of 35 feet, has every type of cover and structure. The lower lake features open water with ledges, rock and deeper depths; the upper portion includes more flats and river-type conditions.

{mosgoogle right 6838717991}Each year the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation ranks the lake among the state’s best in terms of productivity, based on results from bass tournaments. Located within an easy drive from Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri, it’s no wonder that Grand Lake is such a popular fishing destination for anglers around mid-America.

McClelland expects a repeat of last year’s tournament in terms of fishing action.

“It’s going to be very, very similar to what it was last year,” said McClelland, who won with 79 pounds, 7 ounces. “The weights will be similar, if not up a little bit.

“The biggest factor this year is we’ve had a lot of rain. And if by chance we end up getting more rain between now and the tournament, there’s a good chance there could end up being more of a shallow willow tree flipping bite going on this year than there was last year.”

McClelland expects the predominant pattern to involve fishing jigs and Carolina rigs on offshore structure. He used that approach to win last year, targeting bass at depths of 8 to 20 feet.

The daily launches and weigh-ins are open to the public at North Beach Development at 61201 East 270 Road. The launch begins at 6 a.m.; the weigh-ins are at 3 p.m.

Fishing fans can catch the action on The Bassmasters the following weekend, at 10 a.m. ET Saturday, June 30, on ESPN2.

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.

BASS sanctions and stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry’s widest array of services and support to its nearly 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

For more information, call BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208. To join BASS, visit http://www.bassmaster.com or call 1-877-BASS-USA.

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