To be a Bassmaster Classic legend, you really need to fish more than one championship. Multiple wins — ala Rick Clunn, Bobby Murray, Hank Parker, George Cochran and Kevin VanDam — cement your status.
A few anglers, however, were noteworthy in a lone Classic appearance. Though they were "one and done," they left a mark on the event and deserve to be remembered. Here then, chronologically, are the one-hit wonders of the Bassmaster Classic.
The Floridian fished the Classic in 1981 and finished a disappointing 37th, but that's not what makes him remarkable. Adams actually qualified for the inaugural Classic in 1971, but elected not to fish because he would have had to use up all his vacation time (he was a manufacturing foreman in the aerospace industry) and the event was winner-take-all.
After winning the National B.A.S.S. Chapter Championship Tournament on Pickwick Lake, Mann became the first amateur to qualify for the Classic out of what is now the B.A.S.S. Nation. He finished last in that Classic but started a tradition that has grown to six qualifiers each year.
The inventor of flippin' didn't fish very many B.A.S.S. events — just 14, and mostly near his California home — but he won one of them and qualified for the 1975 Classic. Thomas finished ninth in his only championship appearance, but his legacy as the inventor of what is likely bass fishing's most effective tournament-winning technique is secure.
When David and Kevin Johnson of Kansas City, Kan., qualified for the 1980 Classic at 22 and 20, respectively, they were the second pair of brothers ever to compete against each other in the championship (Don and Tom Mann were the first in 1975). The Johnsons looked like the future of bass fishing. Instead, they each fished a few more B.A.S.S. events, struggled to earn a check and never made it back to the big dance. Where are they now?
Williams was a clerk for the U.S. Postal Service in Mississippi when he became the first African-American to qualify for the Classic by winning the Central Division B.A.S.S. Federation Championship on Ross Barnett Reservoir. Problem was, Williams had his wife call in sick for him so he could play hooky and fish that tournament. When his name and photo appeared in the local paper, his boss saw it and suspended Williams for five days without pay. No worries. Williams took his suspension during the 1983 Classic, where he finished 10th.
Gibson, a Canadian and host of "Hank Gibson's Fishing World" television series, was the first foreign national to qualify for the championship. He's still the only Canadian to qualify. Gibson finished last in a field of 41 and died in 2001.
Bobo qualified for the 1997 Classic through the B.A.S.S. Federation and gave the best of the best all they could handle for three days on Alabama's Lake Logan Martin. He nearly became the first angler to win a Classic in his home state and would have been the second amateur to take the title in four years, but it wasn't to be. A dead fish on the second day took four ounces off his total, and Dion Hibdon edged him by the thinnest of margins (a single ounce) in the closest Classic ever.
If someone tells you that no Buddhist priest from Japan has ever fished a Bassmaster Classic, stand up and tell them in a loud and authoritative voice they're mistaken. Tsukiyama did it in 2007. But if they tell you that no Buddhist priest has ever made the cut and fished in the third round, keep your mouth shut — he finished 29th.
Bain was the first woman ever to qualify for the Classic, taking her spot after winning the 2008 Women's Bassmaster Tour Angler of the Year title. She finished 47th in her lone Classic try.
College B.A.S.S. took a big step forward when it sent its first champion to the Classic in 2012. That's when Andrew Upshaw of Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas made it to the big dance, finishing 31st. It likely won't be his last Classic, either, but for now he's got just one appearance on his résumé.