Wendlandt hopeful as Ray Roberts' Classic begins

Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat
Texas fishing legend Clark Wendlandt is one of the pre-tournament favorites to win the 2021 Bassmaster Classic. He talked about his chances of winning at Thursday’s Media Day in Fort Worth with Steve Bowman of B.A.S.S. The 51st Classic begins Friday on Lake Ray Roberts.

At Thursday’s Media Day for the 2021 Bassmaster Classic, Texas pro Clark Wendlandt was a popular interview.

After all, the 55-year old Texan is the defending 2020 B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year and one of the favorites to win this weekend’s 51st Classic being contested on Lake Ray Roberts.

But Wendlandt’s status as a pre-tournament favorite has as much to do with what he’s done away from the Bassmaster Elite Series as what he’s done since rejoining the circuit a couple of years ago.

A fixture on the FLW Tour for years before returning to B.A.S.S., Wendlandt has three FLW AOY titles, several career wins, $2 million plus in career earnings, and lots of experience on Ray Roberts, right?

After all, he's a Cedar Park resident who hosts a TV show called Hunting & Fishing Texas.

"You would think so, but actually the answer is no," smiled Wendlandt. "Before this, I've never actually fished here. There's a lot of regional and local tournaments held here, but we never fished it when I was competing in FLW. And I didn't fish the 2016 Toyota Texas Bass Classic here and I've never filmed a TV show here either. So Ray Roberts is a new lake for me."

But Wendlandt has fished other lakes in Texas that are similar to Ray Roberts. And with experience fishing lakes with high water, he likes the way Ray Roberts is setting up.

"There might not be as many bass here as there are on some of our other lakes in Texas, but there are some big ones," he said. "I think this could be a very exciting tournament for a few guys."

While he acknowledges that the event could be slow for some anglers due to the high water and fish being a few weeks behind schedule, the reigning AOY title holder thinks there will be some huge fish caught by a few and certainly some good limits weighed after today's first round.

He hopes to be in contention come Sunday, but he knows that starts with a good Day One.

"I certainly hope to be there on Sunday afternoon," said Wendlandt. "But my biggest fear is not having a good first day on Friday. If you can get into this thing, there are some good fish here waiting to be caught."

And whether he's ever fished Ray Roberts or not, don't be surprised to see the angler from the Austin area in the thick of the title hunt come Sunday afternoon.

Because when it comes to catching bass in Texas and elsewhere, few do it better than the man from Cedar Park.

By the end of the weekend, Wendlandt hopes to have proven that to the fishing world and with a little luck, hoisting the Classic trophy high into the Fort Worth sky for all to see.