Monday Trivia – Clunn Conquers New York – With a Little Help From His Friends Answer and Winner (September 23, 2013)



Congratulations to Greg Clark for winning this week’s Monday Trivia Contest sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits! For the answers, read below.

Rick Clunn didn’t finish particularly well in the recent Elite Series event on the St. Lawrence River, finishing just outside of the money in 55th. But 21 years ago he had a banner week in northern New York, winning the 1992 New York Bassmaster Invitational on the same body of water. It marked the 11th win of his B.A.S.S. career and one of two that took place north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

The St. Lawrence was a different fishery then – Clunn averaged less than 15 pounds a day to win, and it took less than 10 a day to earn the 50th place check. Compare that to the 2013 tournament where winner Brandon Palaniuk averaged over 22 pounds a day and the 51st place finisher averaged 17 pounds a day over two days.

Clunn weighed in only smallmouths, which Tim Tucker of Bassmaster referred to as “a rarity among the winning catches in New York tournaments, where most pros target the bigger largemouths.”

This year the top five finishers in New York all relied either primarily or exclusively on a dropshot rig to amass their big limits of smallmouths. It’s a pretty safe bet that none of the top five in 1992 even knew what a dropshot was.



Like Palaniuk, Clunn ran out into Lake Ontario, although his run from Clayton, NY out into the lake was substantially shorter than Palaniuk’s run from Waddington, NY.

With those facts in mind, answer the following three questions about the 1992 event:

  1. What lure produced all of Clunn’s fish in the 1992 Invitational?
  2. Clunn credited first day partner Dower Combs with leading him to a great spot in Lake Ontario. Combs was the son-in-law of another famous pro. Name that pro.
  3. At the end of the second day, Clunn and Combs went to a spot that Clunn had been given by his “half brother.” Name that pro.

Here are the answers:

Clunn's spinnerbait illustrated by Bernie Schultz. Photo Bassmaster Magazine

Clunn’s spinnerbait illustrated by Bernie Schultz. Photo Bassmaster Magazine

Clunn caught all of his fish on a ¾ ounce Stanley Vibra-Shaft spinnerbait with a small willowleaf up front and a No. 4 “Wedge” blade on the back. The Vibra-Shaft remains in the Stanley catalog today, but at the time it was relatively new. “What’s good about this blade is that it pulls like a No. 6 blade in the water, but you don’t get much wind resistance during the cast,” Clunn told Tucker. “In this wind, if you tied on a No. 6 it would start to ‘helicopter,’ and you couldn’t cast it very far. But I’ve fished this blade in the last two or three tournaments and I really like the fact that you can throw it without the blade causing a problem in the air.”

Six years earlier, Clunn had won the U.S. Open on Lake Mead with a similar strategy. The conditions were different: it was a desert lake rather than a Great Lakes fishery, and he caught largemouths around scattered bushes rather than smallmouths around grass lines. Nevertheless, whereas many anglers still saw spinnerbaits as a dingy water presentation, Clunn was increasingly dialed in on the fact that in clear water a quickly-retrieved spinnerbait could elicit powerful reaction strikes.

Jimmy Houston from

Jimmy Houston from

Clunn had spent his practice period in the St. Lawrence rather than the big lake, and realized that he was not on the winning fish. His Day One partner (this was still the days of pro-on-pro draws), Dower Combs, was fishing only his 10th B.A.S.S. tournament, but he said he was on a large group of fish in Chaumont Bay, a long run through open water. Combs was the son-in-law of another well-known pro, Jimmy Houston.

Clunn, who had already won four Classics, decided not only to go to his partner’s fish but also to allow Combs to use his own boat.

“I felt he was being honest,” Clunn told Tucker. “I knew the history of that area and I knew that where I was fishing in practice, I was getting five to eight bites a day and they weren’t the kind of fish (that could win).”

Randy Fite. Photo

Randy Fite. Photo

Late in the day, Clunn directed Combs to a grassline at the intersection of Chaumont Bay and the main lake. He had been told about the area by fellow pro Randy Fite three years earlier and he quickly culled out four of his keepers before deciding to spend the rest of the tournament there. While Fite and Clunn are actually cousins, when Fite was only two years old his mother died and he and his brother moved in with their aunt and uncle, the Clunns. That household included his cousin Rick, 7 years his elder, and they were raised as brothers.

Fite finished 15th at the St. Lawrence in 1992.