McClelland, Kriet Set for Slugfest at Toho in Tour Team Challenge


Benton, KY — Hefty pro Mike McClelland of Arkansas and Uncle Ray’s pro Jeff Kriet of Oklahoma have roomed together, traveled together and completed against each other for years on the professional bass circuits.

One thing they can’t do is fish together.

“We’ve tried and it just doesn’t work,” McClelland said. “We fish so much alike and look for the same fish or areas, but we don’t have the same ideas. We fished together in the Texas-Oklahoma shootout two times and those were among the worst days we’ve ever had. The other time, we drew out in a Bassmaster Open event on the Red River, were both on fish and had a terrible day.

“We agree to disagree,” McClelland added. “My wife says we both want to be captains.”

Instead of forcing the issue, the veterans realize while their skills may be parallel their mindset isn’t conducive to being on the front deck together. They’ll square off against each other Jan. 23-28 in the PAA Tour Team Challenge on Lake Toho out of Lakefront Park in Kissimmee, Fla.

Tournament days are Jan. 26-28, with weigh-ins at Lakefront Park in Kissimmee the first two days and final weigh-in at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World on International Drive in Orlando.

Tour Team Challenge teams must have at least one PAA Tour-level angler, with the other being a Tour- or Advantage-level member. The Advantage member can be a family member, friend or sponsor, or two Tour members may fish together.

The winning team will take home a fully-rigged Nitro Z-8 with a Mercury 225 Optimax and $14,400, while the second-place team will win a Nitro Z-7 with a Mercury 150 Pro XS and $5,000. Tour members also will receive points toward the PAA Angler of the Year title. Tournament highlights will be broadcast on FishPAA Television later in the year.

Among the teams registered or committed to participate are Guy Eaker and David Hendrick, Todd Auten and Marcus Malucelli, Dean Rojas and Terry Seagraves, Gerald Brown and Bobby Lane, Gary Clouse and John Kremer, Terry Scroggins and Gerald Swindle, Russ Lane and Derek Remitz, Shaw Grigsby and Paul Elias, and others.

Kriet will team up with Jason Reyes of Texas, who won the inaugural Toyota Texas Bass Classic qualifier in 2008 on Choke Canyon. McClelland plans to join forces with Tackle Warehouse pro Jared Lintner of California, a noted shallow-water stick.

McClelland said he “was tiptoeing around about asking” Kriet if he planned to fish the Tour Team Challenge and Kriet mentioned he might fish with Reyes.

That didn’t bother McClelland a bit.

“A lot of it is because we fish so much alike, if nothing’s working then there’s probably not an alternative for us,” McClelland said. “Teams have to plan some strategies, so maybe one guy is on them on a lipless bait out deep and the other is catching them flipping. Then you have two options. Jeff and I want to be offshore. For a team event, you probably need to have some options.”

Lintner and McClelland will be able to cover inshore and offshore areas on Toho with equal confidence. The tournament is slated for the week after a full moon, primed for pre-spawn and possible spawning situations depending on temperatures.

“We’ve never been in a boat together,” McClelland said. “Jared’s fished with both of my boys. He’s a really good angler and I respect his knowledge and confidence. He’s younger than I am, more willing to take risks and gamble. For example, with his Western background, he’s more apt to pick up a swimbait when I might not think about it or not throw it very long.

“That might be out of the norm for me but I’m going to learn to do it. I think this team event will be fun but also could be helpful for some guys to learn some things with their partners. I said a long time ago if you ever get in a boat with someone, either a co-angler or pro at whatever level, if you don’t leave after a day without learning something then you had your eyes closed.”

For more information or to register, contact the PAA at (270) 527-2030.

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