Twenty five years ago, professional bass fishing was well-enough established that there were full-time pros and those who aspired to be like them. But for one week in May of 1989 Robert Byrd made it look easy to come from nowhere and beat the best of the best. Well, it wasn’t quite out of nowhere. The 52 year-old Texas guide had a substantial knowledge base, but it was nevertheless impressive that he won the first B.A.S.S. event he entered, the Alabama Invitational on Lake Guntersville. Byrd caught 60 pounds 7 ounces of Guntersville bass over three days to beat runner-up Charlie Reed by over 6 pounds. The money line (50th place out of 325 contestants) was 37-07.
Byrd almost didn’t enter the event. He’d planned to participate in the entire season that spanned the latter half of 1989 and the first half of 1990, but when he found out that there was still space in the last tournament of the prior season (the Guntersville tournament), he decided to fish that one, too.
The field set records for the number of bass caught, total weight and the number of limits weighed in, but Byrd took his grass fishing experience and applied it to the Big G to outdistance the rest of the field. He caught nearly 23 pounds each of the first two days, and needed only a small portion of his final day catch of 13-05 to claim the victory. While Guntersville locals Don Snider and Edward Gettys finished 3rd and 5th, respectively, the east Texas crew showed their strength – with Byrd in 1st, Tommy Martin in 8th, Rick Clunn in 11th, David Wharton in 16th and Randy Dearman in 17th.
Byrd went on to fish a total of 22 B.A.S.S. events, landing in the money only once more, when he finished 6th on Sam Rayburn in March of 1990. He stopped after 1991 and 1992 campaigns that saw him finish in the triple digits six straight times, then after a 20 year gap fished the Central Opens in 2002 at the age of 67, but again failed to crack the top 130. In the last decade he’s fished 8 Rayovacs (AKA, Strens or EverStarts) and a BFL, with the best result being a 33rd place finish in the January 2011 Rayovac on Choke Canyon.
In order to win this week’s trivia contest, be the first person to correctly answer the following three questions in the comments section below:
- Like many top finishers, Byrd primarily fished a spinnerbait at Guntersville. What brand did he throw?
- Don Snider was one of the few pros at the top of the standings who did not use a spinnerbait, preferring a Carolina Rig and a crankbait. What crankbait did he use that week?
- Gary Klein finished 66th, just about 2 pounds out of the money, at Guntersville, but it was a good week for him nonetheless. Why?
The answers and winner will be announced Thursday. Good Luck!