Congratulations to Greg Driskell for winning this week’s Bass Fishing Archives Trivia Contest sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits. For his efforts he won a $25 GYCB e-coupon good for anything on the Yamamoto website. For the answer, please read below.
David Wharton’s win at the 2003 Bassmaster Tour event on Toledo Bend marked the fourth and final victory of his B.A.S.S. career. Sixteen years earlier he’d won a Texas Invitational on his home lake, Sam Rayburn, and he’d notched two subsequent victories on South Carolina’s Lake Murray, before earning this final trophy close to home – even though the 2003 event went out of Louisiana, the big border lake is essentially a sister lake to Rayburn, only about an hour from his home near the banks of Big Sam.
Wharton attributed his victory not only to his general angling skills, but also to his experience on the Bend: “What a lot of people don’t realize is how long I’ve fished Toledo Bend,” he told BassFan shortly thereafter, noting that he’d been “fishing the lake since it was created in the late ’60s. I’ve caught a lot of fish out of that lake. I’ve fished it plenty in rising-water situations so that probably helped me more than anything. Even though I’d never fished in La Nana Creek, I knew what to expect when the water started coming up.”
Wharton dominated a 177-angler field, with a 12 pound gap between first and second in the hole-course final rounds, so nothing in this column is meant to diminish his achievement in any way. Indeed, the 11-time Classic qualifier beat a stacked contestant list, outlasting the next two Classic champions, Takahiro Omori and Jay Yelas, to take home the title. Nevertheless, someone was missing. No guarantee that the absent competitor would have won, but in order to win this week’s prize you need to identify who failed to show up and provide the reason.
Here’s the answer:
Carl Maxfield of Summerville, S.C., was the missing angler, and with a good but unfortunate excuse: He died of a heart attack as he prepared to leave for the tournament at Toledo Bend. He was only 49. Maxfield fished over 100 B.A.S.S. tournaments, including the 1976 B.A.S.S. Chapter Championship, although the majority of his entries came in the 1990s.
“He was great guy and great friend to all the fishermen,” friend and fellow competitor Mark Davis told BassFan. “I think everybody liked Carl. He didn’t have any enemies. He was just a super guy, and a great friend to me. It’s a tragic loss, not just to me personally, but to the whole fishing world. I talked to Carl last night about 10:00, and it was just ol’ Carl. We were talking about fishing, laughing and joking. He couldn’t wait to get down there to try to find some fish on Toledo Bend. He was heading there this morning. He was just fine. I guess that conversation and the last days I spent with him will be the way I remember him — as a fun-loving good guy.”
Maxfield had previously won the 2000 Bassmaster Top 150 on the Potomac River, leading a “who’s who” top five – sequentially behind him, Rick Clunn, Skeet Reese, Kevin VanDam and Mike Iaconelli. That victory came less than a year after he finished second to Rufus Johnson at the Alabama Invitational on Lake Martin. The two anglers had been tied at the end of regulation and Johnson won in an abbreviated fish-off, as described previously on the Bass Fishing Archives.
Later the PAA and Maxfield’s family established an honor is his name, entitled the “Carl Maxfield Spirit of Bass Fishing Award.” At the end of 2003, it was bestowed upon Davis, who the presenters said best encapsulated the qualities they sought to reward: determination, consistency, sportsmanship and popularity. It is unclear whether the honor persisted past that year.
In his lone B.A.S.S. tournament on Toledo Bend, the 2001 Bassmaster Top 150, Maxfield finished 24th.
Wharton, who fished the last of his 264 B.A.S.S. tournaments in 2005, died in February of 2009, also from a heart attack.