No one dreams of finishing second in the Bassmaster Classic, but that's just one of the reasons the best anglers in the world treat this tournament as though it's first place or no place for them.
Another reason is the prize money breakdown. The winner gets a mammoth $500,000 payday, but second place only takes home $45,000. That's nothing to sneeze at, even in these days of $70,000 bass boats, but it's certainly a big enough difference to put the focus firmly on first.
Here are some other numbers you can use to impress your friends, befuddle your family or otherwise show people you know way too much about the Bassmaster Classic.
Did you know that Lay Lake is not only the most frequently visited body of water for the Bassmaster Classic (4 times since 1996), but it's also the smallest body of water ever used as a Classic site at just 12,000 surface acres. That might be a big factor this week as 51 anglers jockey for position to fish what appear to be a very few productive areas. Throw in a few hundred spectator boats and it gets very interesting, very quickly.
Denny Brauer turned 61 years of age earlier this month. He's the oldest angler in the field and the only one with a chance to break Woo Daves' record for oldest Classic champion. Daves was 54 years, 2 months and 28 days old when he won the 2000 Classic on Lake Michigan.
Casey Ashley is the youngest angler in the 2010 Classic. He just turned 26. That's almost five years older than Stanley Mitchell was when he won the 1981 Classic on the Alabama River. If Ashley can win this championship, he'll become the fifth youngest Classic champ in history, behind Mitchell, Bryan Kerchal, Jack Hains and Bobby Murray.
This year's Classic field is one of the most experienced in history. On average, each angler has already fished 4.33 Classics before he got here. There are only nine rookies in the field this year, the fewest since 2006, when there were just four.
With bites coming few and far between for the anglers, some are speculating that the average bass brought to the scales this week might be bigger than usual. To set a record for average bass size at this Classic, the number to beat is 2.93. That's how many pounds the average bass weighed at the 1980 Classic on the St. Lawrence River. It'll be a very tough number to beat, especially if spotted bass dominate the catches at this Classic.
There are 8 former Classic champs and 8 former Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Anglers of the Year (9, if you count Pam Martin-Wells and her WBT crown) in this year's field, but neither of those numbers is a record. In 1989, there were 10 former Classic champs in the tournament; and in 2006, 10 former AOYs were in the championship.
There are 8 anglers in the field who call Alabama home. That gives the Heart of Dixie a better than fair shot at repeating what Boyd Duckett did here in 2007 — keeping the Classic trophy in the same state where it was won.
You might think that Alabama is a traditional stronghold of tournament fishing greatness, but that's not the case. Sending lots of anglers to the Classic is a new phenomenon for the state. In fact, Alabama had never sent more than four anglers to any one Classic before 2007, and that only happened once — way back at the first Classic in 1971. (And Alabama didn't produce any Classic qualifiers at all between 1988 and 1994.) But ever since 2007, Alabama's looked strong come Classic time.
So did the state suddenly start producing great bass anglers? Not exactly. The truth is that some really good anglers moved to Alabama and began calling it home. When Randy Howell, Aaron Martens, Kotaro Kiriyama, Steve Kennedy and others move to your state, you'll see Classic entries jump up, too.
Alabama ranks sixth among all states for producing Classic qualifiers with 94. The five states who rank higher are Texas (271), Arkansas (173), Missouri (137), Florida (109) and Oklahoma (104). Arkansas is the only state to have sent a qualifier to each Classic.