The Bassmaster Classic – 1991 through 2000

Ken Cook hoists the 1991 Classic trophy for winning at the Chesapeake Bay, MD. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

Ken Cook hoists the 1991 Classic trophy for winning at the Chesapeake Bay, MD. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

By 1991 the Bassmaster Classic had become the event anglers aspired to win – weekend warriors through tour-level pros. The event had grown from a small gathering of anglers and media huddled together at the ramp in 1971 at Lake Mead, NV to sold-out stadiums in 1990. Although the event was centered around the anglers who qualified and the eventual winner, it grew into what we now know as Classic week filled with fan days, media events and one of if not the biggest public tackle shows in the world. [Read more…]

Hank Calls it Quits…Sort of



Professional bass fishing is full of anglers who should probably get on with their life’s work off of the water, but can’t seem to give up the lure of competition. Some of them are in their twenties and thirties and don’t have the skills to get the job done, while others have passed their physical peak and are no longer competitive. There are even some who fall somewhere in between, suptuagenerians who were once stars but who are now only competitive on occasion.

To cite the old cliché, athletes die twice, and the first time is when they stop competing. [Read more…]

Book Review – 20 Years of KVD in Print

The cover of the original 1994 version of KVD's Bass Strategies.

The cover of the original 1994 version of KVD’s Bass Strategies.

While Kevin VanDam’s career has gained steam over time with the addition of Angler of the Year titles and Bassmaster Classic trophies, it’s hard to remember a period in his career when he was a “typical rookie” or an “up-and-coming pro.” That’s because he seemed to jump onto the scene as almost a fully-formed, ready-for-prime-time superstar. I recall veteran outdoor writer Craig Lamb telling me that he interviewed KVD at one of the angler’s earliest B.A.S.S. tournaments (possibly the 1990 New York Invitational on the St. Lawrence, where KVD finished 3rd) and he could already give a superlative interview, unlike most twenty-something anglers. For that matter, he was probably better than most of the veterans. [Read more…]

Back to 1970 with Roland Martin

Photo Brenda Serrano.

Photo Brenda Serrano.

A couple of days ago I posted a piece on Kevin VanDam and I stated that I’d followed his career before he was actually KVD. Most of that was because of my close friend and mentor, Dave Green, but after 1991 I followed his career because he was nearly my age and he was kicking everyone’s sphincter on the The Trail. You had to follow Kevin in his early years – you were forced to merely because of his success against anglers twice his age.

Today, though, I’m posting a piece about my first bass fishing hero – Roland Martin. You have to understand, when I first joined B.A.S.S. in 1974, Roland was the king. He’d won the past three Bassmaster AOYs and his articles in Bassmaster Magazine taught me how to think as a bass fisherman. Every article he wrote I read, digested and tried to apply to my fishing – as a 10 year-old. I didn’t just go fishing at the park or local lake to practice my casting (sorry Stan, I practiced my casting in the street much to the chagrin of my neighbors and their car windows), I went with the intent on finding a pattern and catching fish. That’s what Roland Martin instilled in me. There was a method and if you could figure out where the fish were with respect to season, temperature, depth and other factors, you’d catch fish. [Read more…]

How He Became KVD

Kevin VanDam talking about how he started his career at ICAST 2014. Photo Brenda Serrano.

Kevin VanDam talking about how he started his career at ICAST 2014. Photo Brenda Serrano.

In the event you haven’t figured it out yet, I used ICAST as a platform to talk with tour-level pros about their beginnings. KVD was no different.

I have always been fascinated by KVD’s career – starting from his Federation days through his first year on tour. The reason for that is I spent my summers in Michigan from 1986 through roughly 1990. Around the 1988 timeframe I went back for my annual summer visit and as soon as I got off the plane, my buddy Dave told me there was some kid cleaning everyone’s clock in the state. That kid was Kevin VanDam. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Alton Emerges Answer and Winner (April 14, 2014)



For the second week straight no one won the weekly trivia contest sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits. Come back next week as we’ll have another set of questions and will award a $25 coupon to the winner. For the answers to this week’s contest, please read below.

Today most fishing fans think of Alton Jones first and foremost as the 2008 Bassmaster Classic Champ, but in May of 1997 the Texas pro was a 34 year-old guide and former computer salesman with seven years as a full-time touring pro under his belt. He’d only notched four Top Ten finishes in B.A.S.S. competition to that point, half of them in Alabama. The best of the bunch came when he finished tied for 4th in the 1996 Alabama Top 100 at Lake Neely Henry. That tournament was won by Davy Hite, marking Hite’s second B.A.S.S. victory, both of them in Alabama.

The following year Jones moved up three spots to claim his first B.A.S.S. win in the 1997 Alabama Top 100, edging out Gary Klein by an ounce to earn the 1st-place trophy. [Read more…]

History – Some of it is New

Boats lined up on the main deck. Photo Brenda Serrano

Boats lined up on the main deck. Photo Brenda Serrano

With Media Day over I thought I’d post some pictures of the event, which was held at Regions Field – home of Birmingham’s double-A baseball team the Barons. It was a nice venue as the luncheon was held in a large meeting room on the second deck and the boats were scattered along the main deck under the upper-level seats. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Name That Angler Answer and Winner (Jan 6, 2014)

Bradley Roy picCongratulations to Josh Unruh for winning this week’s Bass Fishing Archives Monday Trivia Contest sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits! For the answers, read below.

We haven’t had a “Name That Angler” feature here on the Bass Fishing Archives in a while, so we’re going to ease you back into the New Year with a relatively simple one. [Read more…]

The Roots of Quantum

Look familiar?

Look familiar?

You know the names: KVD, Biffle, Grigsby, Klein, Hackney, Rojas, Swindle…there are several more. They all fish for Team Quantum, but would you recognize their first line of baitcasters if you saw them? Or could you even guess when they were introduced? Here’s what we’ve gathered on the topic. [Read more…]

Classic ’79 and The Debate

Bobby Murray two-time Classic Champion. Photo Bass Master Magazine February 1979.

A couple of weeks ago Brian posted a piece on AOY vs. Classic Winner. The piece got a lot of attention – pieces like this always do – but I have a few things to add to it. If you have that issue of BASS Master Magazine (Feb 1980), you’ll see that they devoted five full pages to this debate – or debacle – if you want to call it that. It was a big deal and this article started the debate amongst anglers and the media that eventually led to the Greatest Angler debate that ESPN held a few years ago.

By the end of the 1979 season, the Classic had been held eight times (’71 through ’78) and the Angler of the Year had been awarded 10 times (’70 through ’79). Here are the AOY and Classic statistics prior to the 1979 Classic. [Read more…]

Scorecard Snapshot – Roland’s Dominance Answer and Winner

Photo Bass Master Magazine February 1980 Issue.

Congratulations to Paul Wallace for winning the Bass Fishing Archives Trivia Contest with his correct answer! He phrased it as a question, “Jeopardy-style.” Going forward, the winner has to answer in the form of a declarative sentence or sentences and give a little bit of context to show that he knows what he’s talking about. Read below for our explanation of why Roland’s win was so meaningful.

Roland Martin’s victory in the November 1980 Florida Invitational on Lake Okeechobee was hardly a surprise to fishing fans at the time. Not only had he already won 11 B.A.S.S. events, but Okeechobee was his personal playground. He’d not previously had the chance to fish a B.A.S.S. event there, but when that opportunity arose, he made the most of it, beating runner-up Guy Eaker by nearly six pounds to claim $11,700 in total winnings.

Martin’s 48-02 over three days was more than double the amount of weight it took to earn a check in the event – 22-03 was enough for Tommy Martin to slip into the 40th place slot out of 275 anglers. [Read more…]

Scorecard Snapshot – The Start of a Beautiful Friendship

Photo courtesy of

A Kevin VanDam victory is hardly an anomaly of the “man bites dog” variety. He’s earned 20 of them with BASS over the past two-plus decades, so the fourth of them, in the 1997 Virginia Invitational at Buggs Island, might seem unremarkable.

Indeed, it was a classic form of KVD domination. With 41-15, he outlasted second place finisher Wesley Kemper by an even 10 pounds. No one else even cracked the 30 pound mark, and the also-rans included a who’s-who of tour-level pros and top local sticks.

To earn the victory, though, Kevin would have to cross paths with one of his future nemeses.

Do you remember what happened? [Read more…]