Bassmaster recently released a slideshow of the “Top 100 B.A.S.S. money winners" and while I’m normally loathe to click through three digits of slides I made an exception for this piece. While the top dog will be no surprise to anyone who follows the sport, I was surprised at where some others fell on the spectrum.
For example, 28 of the anglers ranked between 51st and 100th no longer fish the Elite Series, and few of them still fish the Opens, so they’re unlikely to pad their stats. In fact, two of them are deceased, so they are all but certain not to climb the ladder. I wasn’t at all shocked to see that Denny Brauer (5th) was the top-ranking past Elite, but I was surprised that next in line was Pete Thliveros (17th). I suppose he benefited from hanging around a few more years after the switch to the Elite format, while hammers like Larry Nixon (25th) and Jay Yelas (33rd) left after the 2006 Classic.
I understand the monetary winnings aren’t the sole measure of a pro’s career, nor should they be. When all is said and done, inflation and changes in prize structures will obscure how dominant some of the early pros were. At their peak, Roland Martin and Guido Hibdon did not regularly have the opportunity to fish for six figure paychecks.
One of the most amazing factoids I derived from this exercise was how amazing the career of the still-competitive Boyd Duckett has been. He’s fished B.A.S.S. events intermittently starting in 2002, and didn’t join the tour full time until 2007. That same 2007 season, he won two mega-checks -- $500,000 at the Classic and $250,000 in the Major at Dardanelle – to earn the lion’s share of an annual payday of $842,750. If you take out everything he did with B.A.S.S. before or after, that season alone would have him in 64th place on the all-time winnings list. Making it even more impressive, if you were to wipe out that season from his record, his $783k in other years (before and after) with B.A.S.S. would put him in 67th place.