Let's a take a look at the 2008 Bassmaster Classic by the numbers. It was a great event — well attended, exciting, and a great new champion was crowned, but few records were broken this year. Here's what happened ... by the numbers.
First of all, the fishing was pretty good. Hartwell produced the third heaviest total poundage of bass in Classic history — behind, ironically, the other two February Classics in 2006 and 2007. The move to the early part of the year has paid off if you like bigger catches.
Similarly, Hartwell produced the third best catch per angler day. Over the three day event, the average angler brought 10.91 pounds of bass to the scales each day — again, just behind the 2006 and 2007 Classics on the Kissimmee Chain in Florida and Alabama's Lay Lake.
Alton Jones is far from the oldest Classic champion, but at 44 years, 7 months and 11 days, he's closer to the oldest than he is to the youngest. In fact, Alton ranks sixth among the Classic's oldest winners. Woo Daves still holds the top spot at 54 years, 2 months and 28 days.
With Jones, Texas claims its ninth Classic. Rick Clunn, of course, grabbed 4 of those. The others belonged to Larry Nixon, Tommy Martin, Jay Yelas and Takahiro Omori. The next closest state is Arkansas with 5.
Alton didn't go wire-to-wire in claiming his championship, but he did take the lead on Day 2 and hold on for the victory, making him the 23rd angler to take the Day 2 lead and never let go.
The Classic is not a tournament of big comebacks, but Alton did come from 10th place on Day 1 to grab the lead. That places him in a big tie for third among Classic champs who moved after the first day. Don Butler (1972) and Rick Clunn (1990) were both in 14th place after Day 1 when they won the event. Jack Hains (1975) and Woo Daves (2000), like Jones, were in 10th after the first day.
Crowd favorite Charlie Hartley fell from first to second to 15th over the course of the three Classic days, tying him for the fourth most precipitous fall in Classic history. Mark Menendez still holds the record for biggest fall. In 2003, he led the Classic on the first day and finished 23rd. Hartley's first round catch of 21-1 was the sixth best in Classic history during the 5-bass limit era.
Some nice bass were caught at Hartwell, but hardly anything to turn heads, especially after the double-digit fish from the Kissimmee Chain in 2006.
Despite the fact that he didn't win, Kevin VanDam continues to impress in nearly every tournament he enters. With his third place finish, VanDam has now finished in the top five in each of the last five Classics — a new record. VanDam was also fishing in his 18th consecutive Classic (1991-2008), tying him with Larry Nixon (1977-94) for second on the consecutive Classic list behind the legend, Rick Clunn, who posted 28 straight appearances from 1974-2001.
VanDam and Jones have something in common. It took them both 11 tries before winning a Classic. That's about double the average. Denny Brauer holds the record for the longest wait. When he won in 1998, it was his 16th Classic.
Gary Klein and Peter Thliveros set new marks for Classic futility. Klein fished his 26th championship and has yet to take home the trophy. He surpasses Roland Martin's mark of 25.
And Peter T. has now fished 12 Classics without ever finishing in the top 10. He was 11th once, and has won a couple of majors, but the all-time great has never come close to winning the Classic.
Klein and KVD each moved a little higher on the Classic all-time weight list. They are now second and third respectively with 527-3 and 524-0, respectively. Of course, they're still way behind Rick Clunn's 756-3.
The Federation Nation fared very poorly in this year's Classic. None of the six qualifiers made the Top 25 cut and all sat out the final round. It's the first time since 2005 that the entire Federation Nation field missed the cut.
And the home state advantage/disadvantage didn't do much for either Casey Ashley or Todd Auten, who finished 17th and 34th respectively.
As always, the weather played a factor in the Classic this year. With lows in the 30s, the 2008 Classic was the second coldest on record behind only the November Classic on Lake Guntersville in 1976.
So there you have it, a numerical look at what should go down as one of the best Classics in history.