It’s over. Sometime around 7:00 p.m. this evening I passed the trophy to Cliff Pace. I have to say I was proud to be the one who got to do it but I’m also a little bit sad when I stop for a minute and realize that my year — our year — is over. That’ll take a while to sink in.
You wake up on Sunday morning and you’re the champion. But when you wake up on Monday morning somebody else is the champion. That’s OK, though. I’m passing the title off to a good man. That makes it a lot easier to deal with.
Cliff will do a good job this year. He’s quiet and doesn’t talk much, almost never about himself. I don’t think that’ll matter much, though. Every Bassmaster Classic Champion has to do things his way. There really isn’t a formula for what should be done. I did the things that made me feel right and I’m sure he’ll do the same. It’s best to be yourself.
A big part of his championship will be his fishing skills. Cliff Pace can flat catch them. This man’s no overnight sensation and his win is no accident. When our fans look at him they’ll know that he deserves the honors he’s receiving. I’m not exaggerating when I say he’s one of the best bass anglers I know or have ever known.
Look at the way he won this Classic. He had sacks over 21 pounds on the first day and again on the second day. And even today — by far the toughest fishing day of all — he managed four bass that weighed over 11 pounds. That’s darn near a four pound average over three tough fishing days.
I think that’s important. It matters to the fans that the guy who wins actually deserves to win. No one wants to see an average angler, or someone who just gets lucky, win something like a Classic. This is the most prestigious title in all of bass fishing. It’s important that it stays pure, that the guys who win it know what they are doing when it comes to catching bass. Cliff Pace will do that.
Tomorrow will be a travel day for the Lane family. We’ll get up early and head back to Guntersville. As much as I liked this Classic it will be really good to get back home and relax for a few days before the Elites start.
It’ll only be for a few days, however. I’ll have to start traveling shortly and, before I do that, I’ll probably have to look at some things for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. No, I’m not crazy. It takes that long to get things together and to put on a Classic worthy of the name.
It’s serious enough to Guntersville that our mayor came to this Classic, spent several days here looking over everything, and then went back home to report on what needs to be done before next year. We’re going to do things right next February. I guarantee it.