Two-time Bassmaster Classic champ Bobby Murray says the Alabama River will be a hard nut to crack.
Actually, he goes even further on that point. Few fisheries, said Murray, have ever given him such a hard time as the Alabama River did in the 1981 Classic.
“The Alabama River sent me into retirement,” added Murray, laughing. “It’s not really the reason I retired from competition — I had other business opportunities I wanted to pursue back then — but the Alabama River was my last Bassmaster event.”
For the record, Murray finished 22nd in a field of 41 in the 1981 Classic. His two wins were the first Classic, in 1971 on Lake Mead, and again in 1978 on Mississippi’s Ross Barnet Reservoir.
He said that from what he hears these days, the pros in the July 29-31 Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship portion of Toyota Trucks All-Star Week will have to work hard to beat the Alabama.
“It’s probably one of the very toughest fisheries in Alabama,” Murray said. “There are plenty of fish there, of course, but I know a river like that can get the better of you quickly.”
Brought up on deep, clear lakes, Murray said most rivers have too many miles of similar shoreline structure to suit him.
“And river fish concentrate. In 20 miles of river, you’ll have three or four places with any fish on them,” he said.
Murray, forever famous as winner of the first Classic, well remembers his triumph in 1971, “back before there was any money in it.”
In that first Classic, 24 anglers competed, and the stakes were winner-take-all — “all of $10,000,” Murray said.
The All-Star prize is also winner-take-all, but the amount is 10 times Murray’s first Classic prize.
Murray is scheduled to be back in Alabama next week for the Bassmaster Legends event, a one-day team competition in conjunction with All-Star Week. Lucky for him, he won’t be fishing the Alabama River. The Legends anglers will be far away, on a private lake outside of Montgomery. His teammate will be Guido Hibdon. They’ll try to beat the other teams of Bill Dance and Jerry McKinnis, Tommy Martin and Rick Clunn, and Ken Cook and Guy Eaker.
Legends competitors will appear July 31 on the Bassmaster stage. One Legends team will claim first prize: a trophy and bragging rights.