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10 Biggest Wins in Bassmaster Classic History

10 Biggest Wins in Bassmaster Classic History
Photo by Ron Sinfelt

The chatter began as soon as Alabama's Lake Guntersville was announced as the site for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, with plenty of folks speculating that this year's championship would break every Bassmaster Classic record. After all, Guntersville is a big bass lake, and February is trophy time.

The much-anticipated Guntersville Bassmaster Classic is drawing very near — Feb. 21-23 — so we'll soon know whether any pro can unlock the perfect pattern, use the best bass lure, and execute in the right way to bring in more than 25 pounds per day. The bar was set when the daily limit was seven fish (21 over three days, as opposed to 15), which makes a record catch a tougher proposition. That said, the top catch from the five-fish era ranks second all-time and less than six pounds shy of the No. 1 catch. So it certainly is possible.

Weather — not only during the competition but during preceding weeks — will play a big part at Guntersville, and no one knows what the pros will find. This winter has been unusually cold for Alabama, and much of Guntersville's plentiful grass is gone. That's not necessarily bad. It just changes things. Weather stability, whether warm or cold, could play a big part.

While we don't know what kind of weights this year's Classic will bring, we can look back on the heaviest catches in Bassmaster Classic history. We'll start at No. 10 and count down to the all-time Classic record catch.

1973: Clarks Hill, SC, Rayo Breckenridge, 52-8

The 10th biggest Classic catch of all time reaches all the way back to Classic III and is benefited by the 10-fish daily limit that existed at the time. Arkansas pro Rayo Breckenridge caught 27 fish that totaled 52 pounds, 8 ounces to beat out runner-up Bill Dance. Breckenridge earned $15,000 for winning the Bassmaster Classic in 1973. Every 2014 competitor is guaranteed $10,000.

Image courtesy B.A.S.S.

1980: St. Lawrence River, NY, Bo Dowden, 54-10

Louisiana pro Bo Dowden beat Roland Martin by more than 10 pounds in Classic X to post the ninth biggest winning weight in Bassmaster Classic history. Dowden used a jig matched with a pork frog as his weapon of choice and focused on boulders with weeds around them. Dowden's catch included a 6-pound, 6-ounce bass, which took big-fish honors for the entire tournaments.

Image courtesy B.A.S.S.

2013: Grand Lake O' the Cherokees, OK, Cliff Pace, 54-12

The eighth heaviest winning weight in Classic history came just last February, when Mississippi pro Cliff Pace battled ever-changing conditions that included snow and record cold temperature. Pace enjoyed at least a share of the lead from wire to wire, although Day 3 was much more difficult for him and included a 5 ½- hour stretch during which he did not get a bite — and with only two fish in the livewell at that time.

Image courtesy B.A.S.S.

2009: Red River, LA, Skeet Reese, 54-13

The Red River showed itself big in 2009, producing half a dozen 50-pound-plus bags. Skeet Reece edged out Mike Ioconelli by 9 ounces to become one of a select group of anglers who has earned the titles of B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year and Bassmaster Classic champion. Reece enjoyed redemption, having come only 6 ounces shy of winning a Classic only two year earlier, and one of his key baits was Lucky Craft Redemption spinnerbait.

Image courtesy B.A.S.S.

1999: Louisiana Delta, LA, Davy Hite, 55-10

Davy Hite beat the rest of the field by more than 10 pounds to post the sixth heaviest winning weight in Classic history. The South Carolina pro established his big lead with a 19-pound, 3-ounce sack on Day 2. Hite used four primary lures that included a homemade frog and a borrowed crankbait to work stumps, hyacinths and logs. Hite's catch is noteworthy as the largest winning catch for a summer Classic with a five-fish daily limit.

Image courtesy B.A.S.S.

2006: Kissimmee Chain, FL, Luke Clausen, 56-2

Fickle weather kept Florida's Kissimmee Chain from breaking all the records, as many folks thought it would, but Washington pro Luke Clausen still managed a three-day catch that totaled 56 pounds, 2 ounces. Clausen's winning bag, which he caught with a Junebug-colored 6-inch worm, included a 29-pound, 6 ounce first-day catch, which remains the biggest single-day catch from the five-fish limit era.

Image courtesy B.A.S.S.

1992: Lake Logan Martin, AL, Robert Hamilton, 59-6

Robert Hamilton had no magic Classic lure. Instead he worked numerous deep humps with a host of offerings, including a Cotton Cordell Spot, Bomber 9A, Norman DD-22, ¾-ounce Stanley Spinnerbait, Luck 'E ' Strike Razor worm and a 7/8-ounce Stanley Jig matched with a Berkley Power Craw or a Hale's Craw Worm. The result was a Classic title won with an 8-pound margin and the fourth largest bag in Classic history.

Image courtesy B.A.S.S.

1976: Lake Guntersville, AL, Rick Clunn, 59-15

The first of Rick Clunn's four Bassmaster Classic wins came on none other than Lake Guntersville, with a catch that was the biggest on record at the time. Clunn used a dual pattern, targeting big fish early and then working to fill a limit. He waked a big spinnerbait over a milfoil-covered hump, bulging the surface with two big blades for larger fish. He then switched to a small balsa crankbait, which he fished in the creeks.

Image courtesy B.A.S.S.

2011: Louisiana Delta, LA, Kevin VanDam, 69-10

Kevin VanDam never bought into the notion that the winning fish in the Louisiana Delta were all in Venice. In fact, he never considered Venice because the long ride would take too much out of his control. Instead, he camped out in Lake Cataouatche and combined a spinnerbait and a crankbait to put together the biggest three day bag of the five-fish limit era. The 2011 Bassmaster Classic title was VanDam's fourth and his second in as many years.

Image courtesy B.A.S.S.

1984: Arkansas River, AR, Rick Clunn, 75-9

The 1984 weigh-in wasn't the most dramatic ever. Rick Clunn needed about 2 pounds to win and 10 pounds to break his own record when he pulled seven big fish from his livewell and stuffed his weigh-in sack in front of a standing-room-only crowd. Clunn's 75 pound, 9-ounce catch, which came from within 3 miles of the launch site, bested his nearest competitor by 25 pounds. Elevating on grandness of the Classic of all Classics, then Vice President George Bush and Governor Bill Clinton were part of the Classic weigh-in and trophy presentation.

Image courtesy B.A.S.S.

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