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…]

Monday Trivia – Guido Gitzem at the St. Johns Answer and Winner (Dec 22, 2014)

Kevin VanDam. Photo Bassmaster.com.

Kevin VanDam. Photo Bassmaster.com.

Merry Christmas and congratulations to Steve Q for winning this week’s trivia contest sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits! For the answers to this week’s contest, please read below. The next trivia contest will be posted January 5, 2015.

It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when a Kevin VanDam top-10 finish was anything other than a routine occurrence, but if you head back to 1991, the 22 year-old Michigan pro was just getting started and not quite yet a household name. Fishing his 8th B.A.S.S. event that February on Florida’s St. Johns River, Van Dam finished second to veteran Guido Hibdon, and just ahead of another legend, Roland Martin.

The 1991 Florida Invitational on the St. Johns marked VanDam’s best B.A.S.S. finish to that point, besting the 3rd-place finish he’d earned the prior September on New York’s St. Lawrence River[], a tournament in which he also fell one place behind Hibdon in the final standings. He “finally” earned his first bass victory in December of 1991 at Lake Lanier where he outlasted six former and future Classic winners in the top 10, including Denny Brauer (2nd), Rick Clunn (3rd), David Fritts (4th), Bob Hamilton Jr. (6th), Mark Davis (10th) and – you guessed it – Hibdon (7th). [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Guido Gitzem at the St. Johns (Dec 22, 2014)

Kevin VanDam. Photo Bassmaster.com.

Kevin VanDam. Photo Bassmaster.com.

It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when a Kevin VanDam top-10 finish was anything other than a routine occurrence, but if you head back to 1991, the 22 year-old Michigan pro was just getting started and not quite yet a household name. Fishing his 8th B.A.S.S. event that February on Florida’s St. Johns River, Van Dam finished second to veteran Guido Hibdon, and just ahead of another legend, Roland Martin.

The 1991 Florida Invitational on the St. Johns marked VanDam’s best B.A.S.S. finish to that point, besting the 3rd-place finish he’d earned the prior September on New York’s St. Lawrence River, a tournament in which he also fell one place behind Hibdon in the final standings. He “finally” earned his first bass victory in December of 1991 at Lake Lanier where he outlasted six former and future Classic winners in the top 10, including Denny Brauer (2nd), Rick Clunn (3rd), David Fritts (4th), Bob Hamilton Jr. (6th), Mark Davis (10th) and – you guessed it – Hibdon (7th). [Read more…]

Board Game or Bored Game?

In 1977 two-time Classic winner Rick Clunn leamed up with King's Kids Inc to produce the board game Lunker. Unfortunately it turned out to be a flop.

In 1977 two-time Classic winner Rick Clunn leamed up with King’s Kids Inc to produce the board game Lunker. Unfortunately it turned out to be a flop.

Fishing is typically thought of as an activity to be pursued outdoors, enjoying nature and trying to figure out its ways. That hasn’t stopped many entrepreneurs from trying to take the outside into the indoors. Not surprisingly, most of them have failed to capture what makes our sport so great. [Read more…]

How They Started – Mark Davis

Mark Davis won the 1995 Bassmaster Classic at High Rock Lake, NC. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

Mark Davis won the 1995 Bassmaster Classic at High Rock Lake, NC. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

For those of you new to the sport of competitive bass fishing, the name Mark Davis probably rings a bell as being the angler who’s leading the 2014 Bassmaster Elite Angler of the Year race. For those of you who have been around a tad longer in this cast-for-cash sport, you may remember Davis came to B.A.S.S. from FLW around 2008 after qualifying for the Elite Series via the 2007 Southern Opens. If you’re old enough to have been in the sport pre-2005, though, you recognize Davis as a three-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year winner and 1995 Bassmaster Classic champion.

Davis first dipped his toes into the B.A.S.S. pond in 1986, when he was 21 years old, and also qualified for his first Classic that same tournament year, 86/87. Seventeen Classics and 50 top-10 finishes later, Davis is having a season reminiscent of his tear through the 1990s.

Yes, Davis has been here before a number of times and is no newcomer to the winner’s circle. This should worry those younger guns out there as it no doubt is on the minds of those who fished against him in eras past. [Read more…]

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

Photo Bassmaster.com

Photo Bassmaster.com

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…]

Monday Trivia – Alton Emerges (April 14, 2014)

Photo Bassmaster.com

Photo Bassmaster.com

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…]

The Fishin’ Machine

Ricky Green holds his second 1st-place Bassmaster trophy from his win on Sam Rayburn in 1974. Photo May/June 1974 issue of  Bassmaster Magazine.

Ricky Green holds his second 1st-place Bassmaster trophy from his win on Sam Rayburn in 1974. Photo May/June 1974 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

In 1985 one of the most-respected boat companies came out with a new-concept boat that rocked the bass boat industry. The boat had all the amenities needed for high-level competition. They were fast, offered a passenger rod trough, rod locker ventilation and a console that looked more like it should be in an F-16 than a boat. The boat was the Cajun Ricky Green Fishin’ Machine.

By 1985 Ricky Green had been fishing as a full-time professional for a dozen years. He fished his first tournament at the age of 24 – the 1968 Arkansas State Championship at Greers Ferry – and won it. In that event he met Jimmy Houston, Larry Nixon and Jerry McKinnis. [Read more…]

Scorecard Snapshot – Missing Persons Answer and Winner (June 24, 2013)

David Wharton. Photo Bassmaster.com

David Wharton. Photo Bassmaster.com

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.” [Read more…]

Welcome to the Big Leagues – Jay Yelas

Photo February issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Photo February issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

I’ve frequently contended that in addition to time on the water and the requisite instincts and physical skills, anyone who wants to become a great tournament angler must also have a great memory. You have to remember how to pilot through that stumpy backwater, what you were doing when the big fish hit, and of course how to apply seasonal patterns.

I was reminded of my belief recently when I asked Jay Yelas to describe his first B.A.S.S. tournament, the 1989 Nevada Invitational on Lake Mead. I hadn’t prepped him for the topic, but immediately he responded, “I think I finished 12th there.” Indeed, he was correct. The tournament was won by Arizona pro Jim Jared in his first B.A.S.S. tournament. It was Jared’s lone top 30 finish in seven events with B.A.S.S.  As my recent conversation with Yelas indicated, the tournament remains important to his professional history as well. He’s fished approximately 300 tournaments combined between FLW and B.A.S.S., but that was his introduction to the big leagues. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Name That Angler Answer and Winner

Youth Pic

A five-year-old Mark Davis seems a little shy holding this big trout. Photo courtesy of Tilly Davis.

Congratulations to JWM for winning this week’s trivia contest! This makes it his third win! To see the answers to this week’s contest, read below.

The picture is a little bit grainy, so it may be a little tough to decipher, but if you look closely the five year old pictured here with his prized catch resembles the professional angler he’s become decades later.

In order to win this week’s trivia contest, you’ll need to answer the following three questions: [Read more…]