When B.A.S.S. came to Okeechobee for the 1998 Florida Eastern Invitational on Lake Okeechobee, it was the circuit’s first Florida event in nearly seven years, resulting from a tax on tournaments that B.S.S.S. did not care for. When the tax was lifted with respect to fishing tournaments, the organization returned.
Thirty year old Clyde Roland “Buck” Durrance made the most of the opportunity, winning the first B.A.S.S. event he fished, beating runner-up Chip Harrison by over 10 pounds. Harrison may call Indiana home, but he’s a long-time Okeechobee guide and a month later he won an EverStart event on Okeechobee to soothe some of the sting of his second place finish to Durrance.
Some of the other top Florida sticks who trailed Durrance included 3rd through 5th place finishers Mike Surman (Boca Raton), David Eng (Okeechobee) and Mark Lamb (West Palm Beach). They were immediately followed by a pair of Martins – Roland and Scott – in 6th and 7th place, respectively. Roland led after the first day. Notably, it was Scott’s first B.A.S.S. tournament. David Hadley of New Jersey was the top-finishing non-Floridian in 8th before giving way to more Sunshine Staters in 9th through 13th as well as 15th. In all, 13 of the top 15, and 17 of the top 22 finishers were from Florida.
Durrance guided on Okeechobee, so no one should’ve been surprised that he did well, but often guides and top regional sticks without a lot of touring experience suffer from “localitis” when the big boys come to town. Furthermore, Durrance almost didn’t enter the tournament. As Steve Waters of the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel wrote:
“Durrance didn’t even know that B.A.S.S. was holding its first tournament on Lake Okeechobee since 1991 until his aunt called him on his cellular phone while he was fishing.
‘I was on the lake practicing for a tournament and she called and told me B.A.S.S. was having a tournament and asked if I wanted her to enter me,’ Durrance said.
“She sent in a $200 deposit – the entry fee was $600 – in July and Durrance was put on a waiting list. He got a call from B.A.S.S. two weeks ago that he’d made it into the 317-angler field.”
That call came just two days before the lake went off-limits.
Durrance had at least one fish over 6 pounds each competition day, focusing on traditional spawning areas in the northern and western portion of the lake. He used both Texas-rigged and Carolina-rigged soft plastic worms for the win. It was important to fish exceptionally slowly. “[E]verybody around me was going too fast,” he told Tim Tucker. “And they couldn’t catch them. I even anchored on some spots so I could really fish slow.” Surprisingly, given the big fish, heavy cover and big stakes, he used relatively light line – 10 and 12 pound test.
In order to win this week’s trivia contest, be the first to answer the following three questions correctly in the comments section, below:
- All of the top five finishers used products from Florida’s Gambler Lures for all or part of their catch, including worms, the Gambler Crawdaddy, Florida Rig screw in weights and Ninja Spin spinnerbaits. Indeed, Durrance used a 6-inch Gambler ribbontail worm (black grape/green) quite a bit. He also used another brand of worm, however. What brand was it?
- Durrance’s achievement was made all the more impressive by certain physical limitations. What were they?
- Which of the top ten finishers had been Durrance’s long-term team partner?
The answers and winner will be announced Thursday. Good Luck!