Congratulations to Jay Davis for winning this week’s trivia contest sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits! This makes his third and unfortunately final win. Read below for the answer.
Florida angler Tom Jurkewicz competed in 28 B.A.S.S. events between 1980 and 1992, making the money 15 times, including five Top 10 finishes. He also qualified for the 1982 and 1983 Bassmaster Classics, finishing 14th and 27th respectively.
In both of those tournaments, he finished second to up-and-coming pros who would go on to become living legends – Larry Nixon and Ken Cook. For Nixon, it was the fifth win of his B.A.S.S. career. For Cook, then 35, it was the first B.A.S.S. win of his now-concluded career (not including his Federation Championship win in 1980), although he had already fished the 1981 and 1982 Classics. Cook relied on an electric blue metalflake Snatrix worm for his victory. The lure was developed by Loren Hill, father of current Elite Series pro Kenyon Hill, and he cruised to the victory by an even two pounds.
Nixon’s victory margin was larger than Cook’s – two pounds, two ounces, a huge gap in a tournament where it took exactly 5 pounds to finish in the top 40, and in which nearly half of the approximately 280 anglers blanked for the whole event.
When the tournament ended, though, Jurkewicz was the big story, at least temporarily. Do you remember why?
Here’s the answer:
As the numbers clearly indicate, the Ohio River was a stingy fishery that July week. “The people who live around here better pray a lot,” Sports Illustrated quoted Jimmy Houston as saying. “Because this is what fishing must be like in hell.”
It wasn’t a good omen for urban fisheries. After conducting the vast majority of their early events on relatively rural bodies of water, B.A.S.S. was at a crossroads, and to grow their market they’d have to compete on lakes and rivers located nearer to major population markets. The Ohio River, near Cincinnati, would be a good testing ground. While the professional circuits have later done well on urban fisheries like St. Clair and the Potomac, the Ohio River proved to be the toughest they’d fished. There was a seven-fish limit (14-inch minimum size), but keepers were hard to come by and Nixon’s weight set a record low for the tour.
Jurkewicz tried to combat the few-and-far-between keepers by fishing for the only place that he knew was likely to have a concentration of legal fish – right near the boat launch. In other words, he was looking for ABC fish (“already been caught”). While off-limits areas have gradually expanded over the years, it’s still a common tactic where allowed, even at big fish fisheries like Falcon.
According to Sports Illustrated, Jurkewicz was not the only one to pursue this strategy, just the one who did it best. He caught a limit the last day to vault into second. “Officials conceded there was nothing in the rules against fishing near the released point, but eyebrows were raised by miffed also-rans. “Next year,” said BASS, “when the world bass-fishing championship will be held in Cincinnati, the catches will be carted downtown, weighed there and then sent off in fish-tank trucks to be released elsewhere.”
The new release process might have hurt Jurkewicz, who finished 27th in the 1983 Classic out of Cincinnati, but it didn’t seem to bother Larry Nixon one bit. His 18-01 winning weight was the lowest to win a Classic until KVD won in 2005 on another urban fishery, the Three Rivers of Pittsburgh. Nixon outlasted Ricky Green by 10 ounces to claim the crown. Even among the world’s best anglers, there were only five limits of bass over the three competition days.