Merry Christmas and congratulations to Steve Q for winning this week’s trivia contest sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits! For the answers to this week’s contest, please read below. The next trivia contest will be posted January 5, 2015.
It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when a Kevin VanDam top-10 finish was anything other than a routine occurrence, but if you head back to 1991, the 22 year-old Michigan pro was just getting started and not quite yet a household name. Fishing his 8th B.A.S.S. event that February on Florida’s St. Johns River, Van Dam finished second to veteran Guido Hibdon, and just ahead of another legend, Roland Martin.
The 1991 Florida Invitational on the St. Johns marked VanDam’s best B.A.S.S. finish to that point, besting the 3rd-place finish he’d earned the prior September on New York’s St. Lawrence River, a tournament in which he also fell one place behind Hibdon in the final standings. He “finally” earned his first bass victory in December of 1991 at Lake Lanier where he outlasted six former and future Classic winners in the top 10, including Denny Brauer (2nd), Rick Clunn (3rd), David Fritts (4th), Bob Hamilton Jr. (6th), Mark Davis (10th) and – you guessed it – Hibdon (7th).
Getting back to the St. Johns in 1991, it wasn’t Hibdon’s first win by any stretch. He’d already won four B.A.S.S. tournaments at three different venues (including Lake of the Ozarks twice), most notably his 1988 Classic victory on Virginia’s James River. In the nearly 24 years since his St. Johns win, however, he has yet to win again with B.A.S.S.
Fittingly, the 1991 victory came sight fishing and Hibdon used two lures that were intimately associated with his career to get the job done – a Lucky Strike G-4 tube (melon pepper) and a Guido Bug crawfish fished Texas style using a Shaw Grigsby HP (“High Performance”) hook.
It wouldn’t be a Florida tournament without a cold front and a doozy hit the north Florida region during practice, with freezing temperatures and heavy winds, but Hibdon, referred to by Tim Tucker as “perhaps the best finesse sight fisherman in America,” still made his chosen technique work. After a meager four-fish catch that weighed 5 pounds 11 ounces on Day One, he caught seven for 22-12 on Day Two to move into third place. Martin caught an even bigger string – 23-13 – to vault out of 46th place into the lead. On Day Three, a lengthy fog delay shortened the day, but Hibdon boated another limit for 14-09 to keep VanDam from claiming his first B.A.S.S. win – for at least a few more months.
To win this week’s trivia contest, be the first person to answer the following three questions correctly:
- What lure did VanDam rely upon for his catch that week at the St. Johns?
- How many anglers in the field caught a seven-bass limit all three days?
- What part of the river system did Hibdon fish?
Here are the answers:
1) VanDam’s primary lure was an alewife-colored Slug-Go. While lures like Slug-Gos and Flukes and their many offspring are common and popular today, at the time they were relatively new. In fact, in the May 1991 issue of Bassmaster which described Hibdon’s win, there was also an article entitled “The Soft-Plastic Stick Bait” which called the Slug-Go and its brethren “a new category of lures.” Indeed, Herb Reed had introduced this particular lure in 1989 and in 1990 Connecticut pro Terry Baksay had credited the Slug-Go with helping him get to the 1990 Bassmaster Classic.
2) Only VanDam and 4th place finisher Jim Bitter weighed in the maximum number of fish allowed over the three days of competition, a total of 21. Don Stevens of Michigan, the 16th-place finisher, was the only angler to weigh in 20. Winner Guido Hibdon produced 18 and 3rd-place finisher Roland Martin weighed in 16.
3) Hibdon’s primary stomping ground was the Salt Springs Run, an area that Tucker described as “Perrier-clear.” Obviously, the clear water made sight fishing easier, but it was the area’s protected nature that made all the difference. It didn’t suffer quite as much from the harsh cold front as the other areas of the river. “In all of the tournaments I’ve fished on the St. Johns, I have always fished Salt Springs Run,” Hibdon told Tucker. “It’s like a big aquarium. It is solid with fish.” The Forest Service’s description of the area is as follows: “Bubbling up from clefts in the earth, crystal-clear water gushes year round from Salt Springs and flows about 5 miles before emptying into Lake George.”