By Pete Robbins
As I write this on Thursday night, there’s still a lot of fishing left to go before we declare a Winyah Winner, but if Carl Jocumsen manages to hold on after a killer first day, it’ll be his first B.A.S.S. win. Every winner gets deflowered at some point, but it’s becoming increasingly rare at the tour level.
Look at last year’s Elite Series schedule: Of the eight regular season tournaments, Cal Delta winner Justin Lucas was the only one who hadn’t hoisted an Elite Series champion’s trophy before. Chris Zaldain won the AOY Championship on Sturgeon Bay, making it two of nine, but Edwin Evers righted the ship for the “old timers” at this year’s Classic. In fact, when you consider Elite events (regular and post-season) and Classics, Edwin has won three of the last six. Between Edwin and A-Mart, they’ve won five of the last seven. Of course Casey Ashley, winner of the ’15 Classic, had already tasted victory with B.A.S.S. on multiple occasions.
Go back to 2014 and it doesn’t get much better for first-timers. Jacob Powroznik might’ve been a first-time B.A.S.S. winner when he won at Toledo Bend, but he wasn’t when he won later in the year in the AOY Championship. Chris Lane, Mike McClelland, Jason Christie, Mike Iaconelli and Greg Hackney, other 2014 champs, were also veterans of the winner’s circle. Brett Hite and Jacob Wheeler were both first-time winners with B.A.S.S., but they both had multiple victories at a high level with FLW Outdoors.
And of course this year’s first Elite Winner, Rick Clunn, has enough Bassmaster hardware to build a Home Depot distribution center.
You have to wonder if talented long-time pros who’ve yet to taste victory – the ones who are above grinders and journeymen, but below the superstars – dream about the special sauce for winning. You see a guy like Randy Howell who struggles for nearly a decade between wins, and then tacks a big one on almost as soon as he breaks the seal.
None of the top three at Winyah – Jocumsen, Britt Myers or Matt Herren – have won with B.A.S.S. I won’t say the odds are against them, because right now everyone else is playing catch-up – but it takes more than just one good day to crack the code.