These are the heaviest limits of fish in Classic history.
The Bassmaster Classic is historically known as the "Super Bowl of Bass Fishing" for a good reason. Only the best anglers on the planet can compete for the right to be called the best in the world. Since Bobby Murray was crowned the first Bassmaster Classic champ back in 1971 on Lake Mead in Nevada, hundreds of other competitors have vied for a Classic win of their own.
Indeed, many legendary anglers have tried and fallen short. Afterall, this is one of the toughest tournaments in professional bass fishing. Many of the tournaments have been quite close, meaning that an angler must catch a heavy limit of fish on the final day if they want any chance of adding their name to the pages of bass fishing's history books.
With that in mind, we're looking back at past Bassmaster Classic Champions who caught the highest total weights in the tournament's history. Because as the competition becomes more and more fierce each year, anglers must continually strive to catch bigger and better fish if they hope to bring home the big cash prize.
For sake of simplicity, we are looking only at weights that won an angler the title of Classic champion, because there have been a few tournaments with high weights that fell just short of earning the angler a winning berth. Therefore, the accomplishment of the winner can be considered even more impressive.
These are the 10 heaviest winning limits of fish in Bassmaster Classic history.
10. Davy Hite, 55 pounds, 10 ounces - 1999
Hite's 1996 Classic runner-up finish to George Cochran by less than a pound was likely fresh on his mind during the 1999 Classic's final weigh-in on the Louisiana Delta. That's especially true after he got a little too aggressive on the final day with four fish already in the boat. Hite ended up losing a six-pounder, the biggest fish he hooked into all day.
It's likely that bass would have catapulted his final total closer to the top of this list had he not lost it. And we're guessing it was a nerve-wracking moment for Hite when Denny Brauer made a charge on the last day and caught a 17-pound limit to temporarily move into the lead. Fortunately, Hite's 19-pound, 14-ounce final day total was enough to give him a 10-pound margin of victory and the title of Bassmaster Classic champion.
9. Luke Clausen 56 pounds, 2 ounces - 2006
Clausen had a tough chore ahead of him in 2006 in Lake Kissimmee in Florida, mainly because the defending champion was none other than Kevin VanDam. However, Clausen ran away with the whole tournament, leading it from start to finish and becoming just the seventh angler to manage that feat.
Clausen started the tournament off with a bang thanks to a 29-pound, six-ounce limit to take the first place spot. After that, adverse weather conditions (including 40 mph winds and heavy rain) slowed things down for almost everyone in the pack.
Clausen caught his fish using a six-inch junebug worm made by Mann's to catch his winning limit. His final day, five-fish limit weighed 11 pounds, 13 ounces. Which was just enough to stave off a charge by VanDam and Rick Morris for the title and a $500,000 payday.
8. Jordan Lee 56 pounds, 10 ounces - 2017
Many anglers would have simply thrown in the towel had they experienced the start Jordan Lee had in the 2017 Bassmaster Classic held at Lake Conroe in Texas. Lee only caught three fish on Friday that weighed a paltry eight pounds, six ounces, which put him in 37th place after day one. As if that wasn't a slow enough start, he also experienced engine problems with his boat. And then on Saturday, he didn't have a single fish in the boat until well after noon!
This was a classic case of it not being over until it's over. Fortunately for Lee, his first bass that Saturday was a 7.5-pounder. More big fish followed to give him a 21-pound limit on day two, helping him jump up to 15th place in the field. Still, it was a tall order to think he could reach the top of the leaderboard.
Thankfully for Lee, he boated a five fish limit on the final day that weighed a whopping 27 pounds, 4 ounces. This was enough for him to narrowly edge out runner-up Steve Kennedy for Lee's first Classic title.
7. Robert Hamilton, Jr. 59 pounds, 6 ounces - 1992
Hamilton was a local favorite in the 1992 Classic, but even though he only lived about an hour away from Alabama's Lake Logan Martin for three years, he had rarely fished its waters. Hamilton's winning strategy involved targeting humps in 15 to 30 feet of water.
While many champions of this tournament seem to find most of their success on a single lure, Hamilton credited his success to consistently changing things up as the tournament went on. In the end, he used no less than four different lures to catch 21 fish weighing 59 pounds, 6 ounces. The winning lures included a Cordell Super Spot, Norman DD-22 crankbait, a Stanley spinnerbait, and a 9A Bomber. This was yet another tournament where Denny Brauer made a strong push for the win, but Hamilton's catches gave him just over a seven-pound margin of victory.
6. Rick Clunn 59 pounds, 15 ounces - 1976
Lake Guntersville, Alabama was the scene for legendary angler Rick Clunn's first of four Bassmaster Classic wins in 1976. Like many anglers do on the tournament circuit these days, Clunn modified a lure himself for the winning edge in only the sixth Classic ever held. Clunn used a large spinnerbait with a white skirt and a sinker crimped onto the arm to catch his whopping 59-pound, 15-ounce stringer of fish. Clunn buzzed the spinnerbait over a milfoil grass-covered hump surrounded by deeper water for his bigger fish.
It was not an easy tournament, especially considering this Classic was held in November and water temperatures were hovering in the 30s the entire tournament. Clunn's victory was anchored thanks to an 8-pound, 9-ounce fish and a 7-pound, 13-ounce fish caught on day two. At the time, this was a record total weight, and it would stand for the next seven years until Clunn broke his own record.
5. Edwin Evers 60 pounds, 7 ounces - 2016
Evers' 2016 Classic win is yet another example of how an angler can make a huge charge on the final day and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Evers found himself in 13th place after a first day total of four fish weighing just 13 pounds, 12 ounces.
That small total forced Evers to abandon the pattern that had worked so well for him in the practice rounds. He went from fishing shallow rocks with a crankbait to using a spinnerbait on the Neosho River. His second day total of 17 pounds, 8 ounces was enough to vault him into third place as others struggled with shifting weather conditions. Sitting 6 pounds, 5 ounces out of the lead on the final day, Evers caught a massive 29-pound, 3-ounce limit on the final day to give himself a 10-pound, 5-ounce margin of victory over Jason Christie. It was Evers' 15th appearance in the Bassmaster Classic, and he did it in style by winning on Grand Lake in Oklahoma, becoming only the fourth angler to win the big tournament in his home state.
4. Hank Cherry 65 pounds, 5 ounces - 2020
Everyone knows 2020 was a wild year, so it was only fitting that Hank Cherry battled through tough conditions to completely dominate the Classic from start to finish, while simultaneously battling an arm injury that affected his casting. In the end, he finished with the fourth-largest weight total in tournament history.
His win was even more impressive because of the fact that he didn't wander far away from the start point the whole week. On day one he used a Z-Man Jack Hammer Chatterbait to boat an impressive 29-pound, 3-ounce limit that put him in the lead by nearly eight pounds. On days two and three he fished a Megabass 110+1 jerkbait, and a Hank Cherry Signature Series jig to give him totals of 16 pounds, 10 ounces, and 19-pounds, eight ounces. That was enough to give Cherry one of the Classic's best performances ever, and a cool $300,000 in winnings on Lake Guntersville.
3. Randy Howell 67 pounds, 8 ounces - 2014
The 2014 Bassmaster Classic was a special one because nine anglers in total caught limits weighing at least 60 pounds on Lake Guntersville (Are you noticing a pattern with this lake?). Another 11 topped the 50-pound mark.
The tournament was literally anybody's ballgame from start to finish. Randy Howell was in 13th place after day one with a limit of 20 pounds, 3 ounces. On day two he caught a limit weighing 18 pounds, 3 ounces, which was only enough to bump him up to 11th place. No one expected Howell to make a run at the lead on the final day, not even Howell himself.
However, on the third day, Howell switched things up and worked a new spot using a Rapala DT6 and prototype crankbait from Livingston Lures to catch a stunning 29-pound, 2-ounce limit. Howell later described it as his "best day of fishing ever." He wasn't the only one stunned; so was the crowd and the other anglers at the weigh-in. After all, runner-up Paul Mueller had an equally impressive limit of 66 pounds, 8 ounces, and third place finisher Edwin Evers caught a limit weighing 65 pounds, 11 ounces. Either of those totals would have won the Classic any other day, but Howell's limit was tops in what many argue was the greatest Classic ever held.
2. Kevin VanDam 69 pounds, 11 ounces - 2011
There's a real argument to be made that KVD's performance at the 2011 Classic on the Louisiana Delta is the single most impressive fishing display in the tournament's history (We'll get further into the reason why with the number one heaviest weight in this list).
In any case, Kevin VanDam was the reigning champion, and he started the tournament with a day one, five-fish limit of 19 pounds, 3 ounces. On day two he caught a 22-pound, 8-ounce limit to vault himself into first place. As if that wasn't enough, KVD then executed the final day to perfection, fishing Lake Cataouatche with a spinnerbait and square-billed crankbait to boat an impressive 28-pound, five-fish limit. That rocketed his winning weight to a jaw-dropping 69 pounds, 11 ounces, and gave VanDam a 10-pound, 11-ounce margin of victory.
With this Classic win, KVD became only the second angler to win the Classic back-to-back. It was also his 20th B.A.S.S. win, which pushed him past Roland Martin's record of 19 wins and made him number one on the all-time career earnings list thanks to the $500,000 purse. It will likely be a long time before we see anybody have a three-day total like this in the Classic ever again, if ever.
1. Rick Clunn, 75 pounds, 9 ounces - 1984
It should surprise no one that the legendary Rick Clunn holds the record for the heaviest three-day total at the Bassmaster Classic. It also shouldn't be surprising to know he completely dominated the field on the Arkansas River.
He caught that impressive limit only about three miles from the launch by focusing on working crankbaits over a drop-off. Clunn took the lead on day one with a 24-pound, 12-ounce limit and never relinquished it, catching a limit weighing 23 pounds, 8 ounces on day two, and a limit weighing 27 pounds, five ounces on the final day.
Hearing those numbers, you might be wondering why some anglers consider VanDam's 2011 Classic performance to be the most impressive in the tournament's history. Well, that's because in 1984, anglers were allowed a seven-fish limit in the Classic. That means that Clunn's record catch here was spread out over 21 fish, instead of 15 which is now the standard. It's also why most people refer to VanDam's performance as the record these days. Still, that does not take away from Clunn's performance or legacy in any way.
Remember, the guy is tied with KVD for most Classic wins at four each. We also need to mention the margin Clunn beat everyone else at this tournament by. Everyone else struggled in this tournament, and it really wasn't a fair fight from the get-go. Clunn's margin of victory in 1984 is a staggering 25 pounds, 8 ounces! It's likely we will never see someone dominate like that ever again in this storied tournament's history.
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