It's time to finish our countdown of the 10 biggest stories in the world of bass fishing from the decade just departed. In Part 1, we covered 10 through six, and they looked like this:
10. Roland Martin retires (2005)
9. ESPN buys BASS (2001)
8. Kevin VanDam wins three tournaments in a row (2005)
7. Rick Clunn's consecutive Bassmaster Classic streak ends at 28 (2002)
6. Takahiro Omori wins the Bassmaster Classic (2004)
But before we get to the top five, let's cover a couple of honorable mentions.
#1: The Bassmaster Elite Series
The Elite Series debuted in 2006 as a new level of competition and professionalism. Few would argue that the hundred or so pros who fish the Elites are not the very best in the world, and the Elite Series has changed the way top-tier tournaments look. Without it, we might never have seen a wrapped boat!
#2: Kim Bain-Moore qualifies for the Bassmaster Classic
This would have been a much bigger story had she qualified through the Opens or Federation Nation. Still, getting there through the Women's Bassmaster Tour is an accomplishment. Ultimately, though, Kim Bain-Moore only "fished" the Classic; to actually "compete" she'd need to have finished a better than 47th out of 51.
Other than the terrorist attacks of 9/11, what's had a bigger impact on your life than the Web, in particular (we hope) Bassmaster.com. The site hasn't changed the story or the message, but it's certainly revolutionized the way we communicate it to you. Hey, you're reading it right now, aren't you?
Now back to the top five stories of the 2000s.
5. Dean Rojas's 45-2 limit at Lake Toho
The 2001 Florida Bassmaster Top 150 on Lake Tohopekaliga was shaping up to be a tough one. Unseasonably cool temperatures had several anglers wondering how they were going to catch their fish, but a warming trend leading into the event changed all that and turned it into a slugfest.
On the first day of competition, Dean Rojas hit the motherlode — the spawning flat of all spawning flats — and kept five bass that weighed 45 pounds, 2 ounces. It was (and remains) the biggest 5-bass limit in BASS history. He went on to win the tournament with a then-record four-day catch of 108-12.
4. Paul Elias 132-8 four-day total at Falcon Lake
The BASS Century Club was a creation of the 2000s. Its members include those pros who have weighed in better than 100 pounds over the course of a four-day event with a five-bass limit. There are now 36 members in the club.
None stand taller than Paul Elias. Over four days on Falcon Lake in 2008, Elias not only bested the rest of the Elite Series field, he obliterated the total weight mark established by Steve Kennedy the year before.
In all, Elias weighed in 20 largemouths that totaled 132 pounds, 8 ounces. That's an average of 6-10 per bass and exactly 100 pounds more than Elias needed to win the 1981 Bassmaster Classic.
"Dottie," so nicknamed because of a distinctive marking on her gill plate, first came to the attention of the bass fishing world in April of 2001. That's when famed lunker hunter Mike Long pulled her from her Lake Dixon, Calif., home. At the time, she weighed 20 pounds, 12 ounces.
Two years later, Jed Dickerson was the fortunate angler. This time Dottie weighed 21-11 — just ounces off the world mark. The record-watch was on!
But it would take another three years before Dottie would be caught again, this time by Mac Weakley. She weighed an astounding 25-1, not only larger than any other bass ever certified, but larger than most of us believed a bass could be. Dottie was clearly a fish for the ages.
Unfortunately for Weakley, the fish was foul-hooked and not eligible for the record books. She was returned to the waters of Lake Dixon, and the record watch continued... for another two years.
In May 2008, a park ranger found a 19-pound largemouth floating dead in Dixon. Jed Dickerson was called in to identify the body. It was Dottie. The dream of her breaking the world record was over, and the biggest bass ever seen by the masses was gone.
2. Kevin VanDam wins back-to-back Angler of the Year titles
Despite being widely considered the best bass fisherman on the planet, Kevin VanDam had a pretty lengthy drought when it came to Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles. He ended the 1990s with an AOY, and came close several times in the early 2000s, but it wasn't until 2008 that he claimed his fourth title.
Then, in 2009, he found himself in a tight race with Skeet Reese that would go down to the wire — right into BASS' inaugural postseason, in fact. VanDam pulled it out in clutch fashion on the final two days of the season, edging Reese and becoming the first angler to take back-to-back AOY trophies since Guido Hibdon in 1990 and 1991. With it, KVD put an exclamation point on the end of the decade that saw him win a pair of AOYs and a pair of Classics, cementing him as the Angler of the Decade and establishing him as the very best of all time.
1. A new world record
The Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox ended longer droughts in the 2000s, but bass fishing fans waited 77 years to see a largemouth bigger than George Perry's be caught fair and square. It finally happened in 2009, and in Japan of all places!
Manabu Kurita's 22-pound, 4.97-ounce largemouth caught from Lake Biwa on July 2, 2009, was declared a tie with Perry's 77-year record in the International Game Fish Association's official books.
Check back in another 10 years for our top stories of the 2010s.