As the Classic approaches it seems appropriate to talk a little about some of the past winners, and tell a little about what they’re really like. It’s fashionable to talk about how winning a Classic changes your career and your life. But in the case of Woo Daves I’m not so sure it did much of either — beyond the obvious, of course.
I first met Woo back when I was fishing on Buggs Island. I remember it well because it was the first time I’d ever fished with a TV camera in the boat. I was a nervous wreck, and when I drew Woo’s son, Chris, for a partner I got even worse.
This was well before he won the Classic but even back then he had the reputation of a man who could get it done. I figured his son would be no different. It turned out I was right. Chris caught more fish than I did — from the back of the boat — and pretty much put me to shame. (It was so bad that Chris actually offered to stop fishing so I didn’t look so bad on TV.)
During the process Woo couldn’t have been nicer. In his own sort of way he tried to calm me down and make me see the big picture. I’d never seen anyone as talented and as competitive as he was who was also so laid-back about everything. He’s one of a kind.
Since his win in 2000 he’s fished a ton of B.A.S.S. events but he’s so unassuming that he often stands in line waiting to weigh in his fish without the anglers around him knowing who he is. When I see him I always call him out. Once that happens everyone starts staring at him, with more than one asking for, and getting, an autograph on their hat or their jersey.
He shows real embarrassment at being made the center of attention. He’ll turn a little red and drop his eyes towards his shoes whenever it happens. I admire that. He’s accomplished a great deal during his career but he doesn’t make a spectacle out of himself. No one has to ask him if he’s thankful for what he has. That’s class all the way. I really admire that.
Another thing that’s noteworthy is that he fishes most tournaments these days with Chris. Of course, they can’t fish as a team — lucky for the rest of us — but they do fish the same events. It’s a father and son thing with them. They want to enjoy the experience.
Keep in mind that the father and son thing is emotional. Neither man needs the other when it comes to catching bass. Woo’s record is obvious, and speaks for itself. But Chris is no slouch, either. With 96 B.A.S.S. events under his belt, including two Bassmaster Classic appearances, he’d have no trouble earning a good living on the pro circuit. He chooses to do other things, however, and keep his bass fishing at the serious hobby level.
Next week we’ll talk a little bit about another Classic Champion.