- Ken Duke
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There have been 31 champions in the history of the Bassmaster Classic.
Alphabetically, here they are:
This is a varied group. Some were legends before they ever won the Classic (Brauer and VanDam), some needed the Classic to create their star (Clunn, Murray and Kerchal) and others never lived up to the glory they experienced under fishing's greatest spotlight (Breckenridge, Hains, Mitchell, Chancellor, Reed, Hamilton, Dion Hibdon, Clausen).
Five of the 31 won multiple Classics. Clunn has won four. Murray, Parker, Cochran and VanDam have each won two.
Only two of them failed to defend their Classic title the following year. Bryan Kerchal was killed in a plane crash just five months after his win. Luke Clausen chose not to fish BASS after his championship and has hardly been heard from since.
Only one of them (Clunn) won back-to-back, and he almost won three in a row. Clunn won the Classic in 1976 and 1977, and then finished second in 1978. It's the best three-year stretch of any Classic competitor.
Two of the 31 (Mitchell and Kerchal) were less than 25 years old when they won. Another two were over 50 (Daves and Reed).
Seven won the Classic on their first try (Murray, Breckenridge, Martin, Hains, Mitchell, Reed, Fritts and Duckett). Another seven (Brauer, Daves, Yelas, VanDam, Jones and Cook) took 10 or more tries before breaking through.
Nine Classic champs (including Clunn four times) were living in Texas when they won the Classic. Five called Arkansas home. Only one (Duckett) was living in the state hosting the Classic he won.
Six of the 31 champs also managed to finish last in a Classic. Three (Brauer, Daves and Kerchal) experienced the agony of defeat before the thrill of victory, and three (Iaconelli, Reed and Yelas) scaled the heights of glory before falling into the abyss.
Only one (Kerchal) went from worst to first in the span of a year. The Federation Nation's greatest star finished last in 1993, but put picked up the trophy a year later.
Seven of the champs led the tournament from wire to wire. Clunn (1977 and 1984), Parker, Dowden, Mitchell, Yelas and Clausen all took the lead on Day 1 and never looked back.
Only one (Clunn in 1990) came from further back than 8th place after the second day to win, and no one has ever overcome a 10-pound deficit after Day 2 to win.
Just one (Clunn in 1984) had the heaviest catch on all three days of the Classic.
Seven men have fished the Classic in all five decades of its existence, but only four (Clunn, Martin, Nixon and Daves) ever won it.
Eight of the 31 Classic champs never won another BASS event either before or after their victory. Breckenridge, Dowden, Chancellor, Reed, Hamilton, Kerchal, Dion Hibdon and Clausen have no other victories to their credit.
The Hibdons are the only father and son team to have each won a Classic. Nine separate fathers and sons have qualified, and 12 times a father and son duo have competed in the same Classic.
Siblings have never won the Classic, but five sets of brothers have fished it. In three separate Classics, siblings squared off for fishing's big title.
And if you really want to get specific about the 31 men who have won the Classic, you might be interested in their Zodiac signs. Well, Taurus leads the way with six, followed by four each for Virgo and Cancer, three each for Leos, Sagittarius and Aquarius, two each for Libra and Scorpio, and just one of each of the other signs.
And for tomorrow? Well, 30 may be a cold temperature for bass fishing, but Classic lunkers seem to like it. Find out more tomorrow.
For the full countdown to the 39th Bassmaster Classic, click here.
18hMike Fish and David Purdum