NEW ORLEANS At first glance, Clark Wendlandt's angling resume would seem like well, like a bass-fishing Superman's resume.
Fishing in his fourth Classic, the 35-year old angler has already done well for himself in competition, having deposited more than $941,000 in the bank from winnings on the BASSMASTER Tournament Trail and FLW Tour.
Wendlandt, who is the holder of three FLW titles and 29 career Top 10 finishes, finished fourth in this year's B.A.S.S. Top 150 race and in the money in six of seven B.A.S.S. events.
But for all of the super stats, it's the consistency that the Cedar Park, Texas, angler has exhibited in recent years that has Wendlandt being labeled as a good bet to capture the Classic crown.
"I think Clark is an excellent angler," said 1998 Classic champ Denny Brauer. "Any angler who puts himself into position time and time again will eventually break through. You can't control all of the variables in fishing. All you can control is what is within your grasp."
"If you can get into that strike zone and be in position to win on the final day pretty often, sooner or later, it's going to happen for you," Brauer said.
"He knows how to win and I think that's an important ingredient. A lot of anglers know how to fish well, but fishing well and winning are two different things."
Is consistency the defining word thus far in Wendlandt's career? Clark himself provides a clue.
"(Winning the Classic) would take the cake, although I think the most prestigious award to win in professional bass fishing is the B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year because of the consistency it takes throughout the year to win that title," Wendlandt said. "But the Classic is the biggest event that we fish in, and it's a tournament that I put a whole lot of emphasis on to qualify for and win it."
While Wendlandt likes his chances on the Louisiana Delta, he also knows that a tough fishery awaits the 45 Classic competitors.
"This is my third or fourth tournament there, and every time you hear people talking about how tough it is, but then they do OK in the tournament itself," he said. "But I think that it's a little bit different there now with the saltwater intrusion that everybody is talking about."
After a tough prefish in late June, Wendlandt, like many of the other anglers, is searching for the right answers to capture the Classic XXXI crown.
"There's just a lack of grass now. There's a little bit there now, but nothing like it was when we went there the first time," he said. "People ask where the fish went and I don't really know. You just have a harder time catching the fish when there's not much grass."
But Wendlandt isn't forecasting doom and gloom down on the bayou this week.
"It might be tough, but I definitely think that there will be some fish caught," he said. "It just might not be as widespread as it was in the past where everybody went out and caught 9 or 10 pounds."
The Texas angler holds that being able to adjust on the fly will be a key factor in determining who wins.
"To me, it's going to be adjusting to the changing conditions," he said. "We only get one day of practice and I think that you've got to key on that area and be able to adjust.
"I don't think that you're going to be able to go out there and figure out how to win the Classic in that one day of practice fishing. I think you're going to have to adjust everyday to win the tournament."
There's little doubt that Wendlandt would love to make the Classic his first career B.A.S.S. victory. And don't be surprised to see him in the winner's circle, said fellow Texas angler Kelly Jordon.
"I've watched Clark fish and he's always real consistent. He's gotten to where he's become one of the top dogs," Jordon said. "It would not surprise me to see him win in New Orleans."
Clark Wendlandt may not yet be the Superman of bass fishing. But his amazing consistency of finishing near the top makes him as good a threat as any to take home the Classic trophy next month in the Big Easy.
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