After 27 of these Classics it never really gets old watching a new champion hoist the trophy and make a victory lap.
There's just something emotional about witnessing one of the more emotional, time-honored parts of this sport unfold year after year. During the course of almost three decades of watching this unique part of a unique sport, there are those that standout like no other: Takahiro dropping to his knees with emotion; Bryan Kerchel surprising the world and showing his humbleness; Skeet Reese never letting the tears stop; Chris Lane kneeling like Tim Tebow, not in jest but in homage to what that meant to both those athletes.
In years to come, I will add Randy Howell to the list of overly special moments.
Every time you see any Classic champion in that moment, you see the measure of the impact (not from sponsorship and worldly things) of what this title means to an angler, his family, the sport as whole. It's the king daddy of emotional highs that only Classic Champions experience. They often say, "I can't explain it, you just have to be there to get it."
You could see that in Randy Howell . It was washed over his face and his body. You could see him thank God with his lips, his arms and his actions and again we saw the measure of a man doing something extraordinary in his own way. You could hear his humbleness and his appreciation for the place he was standing.Again, it never gets old watching this unfold. It just feels better when a champion does it in the same way you would do it, if you dared dream of getting the chance.
Don Barone captured the moment when Robin Howell learned her husband was the 2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic champion.
I rode from the boatyard to the weigh in arena with Paul Mueller who told me that BASSTrakk was way off. He's got 26 pounds and change, which would give him 67 and change, maybe 69 pounds. This could be a much closer weigh in than we thought. Every fish he weighed in today ate a ChatterBait pro Elite with a swim bait trailer on grass humps. Mueller is one cool customer. "It's in God's hands right now." If he's ready for me to win, I'll win. But, I like my chances."
Gene Gilliland wraps up an excellent 2014 B.A.S.S. Conservation Summit today after grant training and important discussions about public access issues with backwaters around the country. Very good 3 day event well attended by many agencies and most B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Directors! Think we are all looking forward to the next one!
By: Dan Kimmel
We're off the water and headed to Birmingham. Not sure if the last second cull will be enough for Tharp. I have a sneaking suspicion that lost big fish will haunt him.
Look at the crowd waiting to get into the BJCC Arena for the Final Day weigh-in!
Behind-the-scenes at the Media Room for the Classic!
Last-cast heroics? With time about done, Tharp seemed resigned to heading in with the fish he had. Suddenly his rod loaded up and he fought a more-than-solid keeper to the boat that enabled him to cull. The folks on the bridge cheered, and even from a ways away I think I could see the blood flow back into his face. He only has a few minutes before he's due in. Will it be enough, or will the big fish he lost earlier haunt him?
With time running out quickly, Tharp sped down to the far end of the riprap. He won't have far to go to get back to the ramp, so it's almost all fishing time. Playing the percentages in a spot where he has lots of big-fish history.