Student fisherman no stranger to pro circuit


Senior sculpting major Steve McClone not only competes for the NIU Bass Fishing Club, he is also a registered professional on the FLW EverStart Series.

By James Cantagallo

Steve McClone, treasurer for the Bass Fishing Club, has already begun his career as a professional fisherman.

Last season, the senior sculpture major was fishing for the NIU team when he was approached by a professional fisherman who believed McClone could make it on the pro circuit. From there McClone’s career got off to a quick start.

“I went about getting sponsors,” McClone said. “I’ve got 22 sponsors. Then I applied with a resume to get in and I got accepted to the FLW EverStart Series.”

McClone, of Metamora, grew up in a family that loved being outdoors. He began fishing when he was 8 and his father took him every weekend. For him, there is nothing like being on the water, waiting to reel in a good catch.

“It’s peaceful, relaxing. It’s fun to do and unique,” McClone said. “It’s my passion.”

While being a professional angler is his dream, it has been stressful at times.

“Right now I juggle working 50-60 hours as the general manager at [Prontos Pizza],” McClone said. “I have to do homework on the lakeside fish and that takes about three weeks. It’s not just for fun; now you are fishing for a lot of money.

“First place at the events is about $40,000. Also, you have to find traveling partners because the cost of travel is so expensive.”

While getting his feet wet as a professional fisherman has been stressful and overwhelming at times, it has been well worth it for McClone.

“It’s amazing the feeling you get when you stand on the stage in front of hundreds of people,” McClone said. “For a rookie, I have done awesome. I made 41st for co-angler of the year out of 400-plus pros. From what I have heard, that is unheard of for a rookie.”

Before a family issue kept him from attending the final tournament of the season, McClone was in sixth place for co-angler of the year with a shot at first. The points he lost in the final tournament dropped him to 41st.

While McClone enjoyed a successful first season as a professional, he knows he would not be where he is in his career without his time at NIU.

“Starting the NIU fishing team left a legacy behind,” McClone said. “…It was a building block for me making it to the pros.”

Derek Malanowski, president of the Bass Fishing club, believes there wouldn’t be a team had it not been for McClone founding it in 2011.

Even while fishing some events on the FLW EverStart Series this season, McClone was still involved with the NIU group and continued to be a great help for other fishermen on the team.

“I learned a lot from him,” Malanowski said. “He has a lot to teach and is very knowledgeable. He has a lot more experience on the water. He has been there and done it.”

McClone will make the next move in his professional career by becoming a full-time fisherman on the FLW EverStart Series in February.

“Traveling is going to be atrocious,” McClone said. “My first tournament is in Florida, then I go to Texas.”