Records are broken at every Bassmaster Classic, and the numbers from each tournament tell a big part of the story. The 2010 championship will be no exception. Right now, however, as cold, muddy waters dominate the tournament forecast, it looks as though the records that will be broken and the numbers that will be tallied will be ones reflecting tough fishing.
Here are some numbers to watch this year.
Even the most optimistic qualifiers are doubting that anyone will threaten Luke Clausen's record for heaviest catch in the five-bass limit era. Clausen had 56-2 on the way to winning the 2006 event. If anyone breaks that this year, under the terrifically tough conditions they'll be facing, there will likely be a Congressional investigation.
On the other hand, no one expects things to be as tough as they were in 2005, when Kevin VanDam won the Pittsburgh Classic with just 12-15. Most of the smart money seems to be saying that it will take between 35 and 45 pounds to win on Lay Lake this year.
And just about every pro agrees that if he could be magically awarded 45 pounds before the tournament starts, he'd stay in the hotel all weekend and wait to pick up the trophy and check on Sunday.
With weights expected to be pretty low, it's likely that this Classic will be one of the closest in history — the smaller the numbers, the closer they tend to bunch up. And while they can't get any closer than they were in 1997 when Dion Hibdon edged out Dalton Bobo by a single ounce, you can expect this championship to be settled by a pound or less, which could put it in the top 10 for closest Classics.
One of the big stories here is the plethora of Alabama anglers in the field. With 8 'Bamans competing, there's a great chance that someone will be able to duplicate what only Boyd Duckett has done before — win the Classic in the state where they live. And it was right here in 2007 that Duckett accomplished the feat. Can another Alabama angler win here in 2010? Absolutely! In fact, you'd have to put all eight of them on a pretty short list of likely winners.
One record that looked to be challenged just a few days ago, now looks pretty safe. The coldest day in Bassmaster Classic history was the final day of last year's championship on the Red River. It was 28 degrees that day, and it's recently been colder in Birmingham.
Now, however, the weatherman is calling for lows in the mid 30s. That might be enough to crack the top 10, but it won't be nearly cold enough to take the top spot.
Pam Martin-Wells has an excellent chance to post the best finish by a woman in the Bassmaster Classic. Last year, Kim Bain-Moore set the bar pretty low with her 47th-place finish. Expect Martin-Wells to improve on that, if only a little.
This is one of the most experienced Classic fields in history. The average qualifier here has fished 5.33 Classics. That means they'll be calm and focused even if things get tough. It also means they realize the value of a win here. Few of them will be fishing for second place. Expect a crowd atop the leaderboard and another crowd near the bottom for those anglers who go for broke and get broken.
The mark for heaviest average bass brought to the weigh-in was set back in 1980 on the St. Lawrence River in New York at 2.93 pounds. Lay Lake's best entry on that Classic list was 2.38 three years ago. With the fishing being so tough, numbers of bass weighed in will be down, but don't be surprised if the average bass brought to the scales weighs better than 2 1/2 pounds. Fewer bass due to cold weather tends to mean bigger bass.
Twelve anglers have won both the Bassmaster Classic and Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year award. Four of them (Denny Brauer, Michael Iaconelli, Skeet Reese and Kevin VanDam) are fishing this Classic. Three men have a chance to join that group by adding a Classic trophy to their AOY title: Gary Klein, Aaron Martens and Gerald Swindle. All three would have to be considered among the favorites here.