He won only one B.A.S.S. tournament, but Jack Chancellor’s lone victory is the one all Bassmaster competitors dream about winning.
Among his 47 money finishes, two runner-up finishes and seven trips to the Bassmaster Classic, Chancellor is best known for his 1985 Bassmaster Classic win that launched a little-known technique into a nationwide bass-catching phenomenon. The Phenix City, Ala., angler caught 19 bass weighing 45 pounds mostly by dragging his Do-Nothing worm along a sandbar on the Arkansas River.
“I sold an awful lot of those (Do-Nothing worms) just from the publicity I got from winning the Classic on it,” recalls Chancellor. “The best compliment I got was from Dave Precht who wrote in his column in Bassmaster Magazine that one of the greatest things for catching bass came from that Do-Nothing worm, not necessarily the worm but how you rig it up with the Carolina rig. Before then there was hardly anyone who did the Carolina rig, so I take pride in having a little bit to do with that.”
Chancellor began his B.A.S.S. career with the Florida Invitational on the St. Johns River in 1976 and achieved his goal of qualifying for the Classic that year. Unfortunately the money Elite Series pros can generate from a Classic appearance today was unavailable to a rookie angler back then.
“Even after qualifying for the Classic and picking up all my expenses I actually lost money that year,” say Chancellor, who finished 19th in his first Classic.
Following his rookie year, Chancellor still had trouble keeping up with expenses on the Tournament Trail so he cut back on his competitive fishing until 1981 when he fished the full B.A.S.S. circuit again. He qualified for the Classic three straight years and finished third in the 1981 event and was the 1982 Classic runner-up.
The lure manufacturer/convenience store owner placed 40th in the 1983 Classic and then won the 1985 world championship that helped him gain more sponsors and notoriety for his lure.
“It put me in a situation where I was doing a lot of promotions for my sponsors,” Chancellor says. “It was a crazy thing because all anyone wanted to hear was how I won the Classic and I was getting to promote that Do-Nothing worm at the same time.”
His Classic victory was leading Chancellor down the path of stardom when disaster struck in 1986. An automobile accident in which Chancellor suffered some herniated discs led to back problems that eventually caused him to quit competitive fishing in 1991.
“I just couldn’t handle it anymore,” he says. “My back hurt so badly, and those boats don’t have any shock absorbers so they are rough on a bad back.”
After retiring from the Bassmaster Tournament Trail, Chancellor continued selling his Do-Nothing worm for several years and ran his convenience store, Jack’s Quick Shop, in Phenix City. When Ray Scott invited him to fish in the 1993 Bassmaster SuperStars event, Chancellor ignored his bad back for a chance to renew old acquaintances.
“I missed seeing everybody that I used to run into about every month or so from fishing the tournaments,” says Chancellor, who also competed in the 1994 and 1995 SuperStars tournaments.
The 66-year-old Chancellor now works part-time at his son-in-law’s pawn shop and occasionally keeps in touch with some of his old fishing buddies.
“I call Stan Mitchell every once in awhile and I talk to Paul Elias now and then,” says Chancellor. “He and I roomed together for a few years. I hardly see anybody else though.”
An ailing heart has curtailed Chancellor’s fishing lately, but he did get a chance to fish for bass last month on his home waters of Lake Eufaula.
“I thought when I retired in 1991 that it was going to be great and I was going to get to do some fun fishing which is what it is supposed to be all about,” he says. “But I just never got back to it because my health started deteriorating.”
Chancellor was being considered for heart surgery, but his latest checkup changed the doctor’s mind. His reprieve might help the former Classic champ fulfill hopes of doing some fun fishing with his grandkids.