On Thursday night I attended the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame’s annual induction banquet in Springfield, Missouri and I was heartened by the appreciation for our sport’s history that seemed to defy otherwise semi-clearly drawn battle lines, both new and old.
For a long time, Kevin VanDam was the model for building a bass career. Not only was he exceptionally gifted and ruthless on the water, but he simultaneously seemed to understand the media and business side of the sport as well. He was able to focus on each individual event without losing sight of the long game. Whether he knew it or not, he served as a template for the next group of super-successful pros – the Ikes, Swindles, AMarts and even Skeets.
It seems that I couldn’t have written a more piss poor prediction had I invented the Sports Illustrated curse myself. Just a few days after I blogged about Greg Hackney being one of three anglers who’d leapfrogged KVD and two others to become the top three on the Elite Series, the Cayuga event concluded with KVD on top and the Hack Attack dead last.
It’s clearly unfair to state that this represents some sort of career plummet for Hackney. His Day One catch was disqualified, and but for that he would’ve garnered some valuable points despite losing his previously substantial lead in the AOY race. The individual tournament result doesn’t reflect any decline in his fishing ability, just a lapse in his decision making ability. He’s still in 5th place in the AOY race, and while this poor finish might ultimately doom his chances of earning his second such Elite Series title, he’s still within range.
By Pete Robbins
B.A.S.S. doesn’t consult me or even preliminary inform me about any of their significant decisions, but like many of you I’m constantly riding the fishing world’s rumor merry-go-round. They’ve yet to announce the location of any Classics for 2017 or beyond, but I’ve heard of a variety of possibilities.
First it was the California Delta, then Shreveport, then Texoma and then Toho. While the rumors had various amounts of traction, each was conveyed to me by someone who had a vested interest (local water, ability to sleep in his own bed, or $$$$) in having the tournament at that particular location.
The latest possibility to light up the Google machine is Lake Conroe. That would be fine with me. I’m unlikely to drive to Houston, but it’s an easy, direct flight from home. The lake isn’t far from a decent-sized arena, it has big fish, and I’ve worked an event there previously – the TTBC in 2009 – so I know that it sets up well for spectators and visiting media.
Perhaps equally importantly, for my purposes, it’s where Rick Clunn guided early in his career.
Due to changes in the rules, Clunn’s win on the St. Johns last week no longer provides him with an automatic berth in the 2017 Classic, but it puts him a damn good position to make a run at qualifying for his 33rd championship, and his first since 2009. I somehow doubt that he would call it a career after that, even if he were to win his 5th title (thereby passing KVD), as he seems to have too much invested in the process to leave while he’s still able to compete. Nevertheless, it would be an awesome opportunity to showcase him, and an oddly symmetrical stop in his lengthy and accomplished career. While I love the idea of driving to Alabama or South Carolina, or seeing records broken on the Cal Delta, for now I’m rooting for a Conroe announcement and a spot in it for Mr. Clunn.