A Snapshot ‘for’ History: Classic XIV

The historical 1984 Classic Weigh-in stage. Note red/white Bassmaster caps being worn. Photo Bassmaster.

The history of bass fishing is replete with moments, and images capturing those moments. Everybody probably has their favorite, but I thought I would share one that has always stood out and had impact for me. The moment was the 1984 Bassmaster Classic, in particular, the final day’s ending where the winner had just been crowned.

The ’84 Classic was held on the Arkansas River out of Pine Bluff. Word is that a last minute veto on the part of a Little Rock city official forced a move to the town of Pine Bluff. This may have been a small blessing, as the Pine Bluff Convention Center had seating for 8,000 visitors, more than double what could be held in Little Rock, and it would turn out that they needed every single available seat in the house, and then some.

A look at the picture taken of center stage during Rick Clunn’s victory speech captures the moment for us all. The personalities on stage are compelling, historic and even ironic. From left to right in the picture:

Ray Scott: B.A.S.S. founder and owner for over 15 years at that point. However, in less than 2 years, he would sell his interest in the organization to Helen Sevier and a group of investors.

George H.W. Bush: Then Vice-President of the United States, serving under Ronald Reagan. Bush would remain Vice President under both of Reagan’s full terms (1981-1989), ultimately succeeding him in the Presidency and holding the office from 1989-1993. At one point, it is reported that when New York Times correspondent Maureen Dowd asked the President what his favorite magazine was, his reply was “BASSMASTER Magazine, a fishing periodical.” Mr. Bush also took numerous fishing trips over the years to Ray Scott’s private 55-acre lake.

Gerri Clunn: Rick’s first wife, who was with him during all 4 of Rick’s Classic triumphs.

Rick Clunn: At this Classic, Clunn would catch seven-bass limits weighing 24 pounds, 12 ounces, 23-8, and a final day weight (tournament best) of 27-5, giving him 75-9 for the event and a margin of victory of 25 1/2 pounds. The win would separate him from the pack as being the only 3-time Classic winner at the time. All of this would transpire while his father, Holmes, lay in a Houston hospital bed in a near coma. Clunn would go on to win one more Classic, bringing his total to 4 victories, a feat finally matched by KVD some 25 years later.

William Jefferson Clinton: At the time of the 1984 Classic, “Bill” Clinton was serving as Governor of Arkansas, one of 5 such terms he would hold until 1993. It was that year that he would then become President of the United States after defeating the same George Bush that was upon that Pine Bluff stage with him in Arkansas nearly 10 years before. The story goes that trouble brewed inside the building that day when Gov. Clinton was asked by the Secret Service to walk through a metal detector before he could proceed to the stage area.

Harold Sharp: Long-time weigh master for B.A.S.S., a job he first held going back to 1970, but who would retire his duties from the organization just 3 years after this picture was taken, and the year following Ray Scott’s selling of the organization.

This image, which appeared on the cover of Bassmaster Magazine, and given the life changes that would occur over the next 5-15 years for those involved, forever seals this as one of the great moments in fishing history captured on film.

Do you have a memorable photo moment that carries some significance for you?