One name, three titles

The name is Hibdon. Two of the titles (Classic championships) belong to Guido, 1988 on the James River, and Dion, 1997 on Logan Martin Lake. Guido’s grandson and Dion’s son, Payden, has a Junior title. He won the Junior Bassmaster World Championship on the Harris Chain of Lakes in 2006.

What makes this so extraordinary — beyond the obvious family connection — is the diversity of the venues they fished to win their honors. The James River is a true river system with tidal influences. Logan Martin is a man-made reservoir built in 1965 on the Coosa River in Alabama and the Harris Chain is a series of natural lakes in Florida.

Winning in all those places shows a kind of family talent rarely seen in our sport. In fact, as far as I know, they’re the only family to accomplish anything like that. And, for the most part, all three men fish pretty much the same. They like to flip and pitch baits in a slow and thorough manner.

I first met them at an Invitational event years ago on Santee Cooper. The thing I remember about that event is watching them pick apart every piece of structure and cover they found. Most guys can take a fish or two from a big laydown. These guys can take a limit.

Every limb, twist, nook and cranny in a laydown or dock had a bait tossed into it, and from every direction imaginable. They just kept going, long after other guys would have moved on to “fresh” water. They’d work it over with casting tackle first but if that didn’t allow them to cover everything they’d toss something in with spinning tackle.

It didn’t matter how dense the brush was or how nasty it looked. One way or another, they’d figure out how to get a lure to the fish. I don’t know this for a fact but I’d guess their attitude was that they’d worry about getting the fish out after they had him hooked — a first things first kind of thinking.

At the same time, they were always gentlemen about the way they fished and how they shared the boat. No matter if you were an old friend or a newcomer, they’d make sure you had your chance to catch your share of bass. They never pulled rank or tried to bully anyone. They showed all of us how to fish and act like true professionals. It was a pleasure to fish with them.

With the Classic coming up next week, it’s good to think about guys like that and remember what they did for B.A.S.S. and the sport of bass fishing. Sometimes in the heat of competition and under the crush of unrelenting media attention we forget that the men and women who fish with B.A.S.S. are human beings, and that we’re all standing on the shoulders of men like the Hibdons.

Next Wednesday I’ll go out on a limb and make a few Classic predictions, with all the usual disclaimers of course.

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