Not every number associated with the Bassmaster Classic is a "good" one or one that brings back fond memories for those involved. The number 26 is probably not a favorite of North Carolina's Paul Chamblee.
You'd have to be a pretty serious (and longtime) follower of the Bassmaster Tournament Trail to remember Chamblee, but he was one of the early standouts in our sport. In fact, he may have been the best professional angler who never won a BASS event. He was that good.
The tournament he came closest to winning was the 1975 Bassmaster Classic on Currituck Sound in North Carolina. The event was in his home state, but he wasn't very familiar with the waters. Nevertheless, he was generally regarded as one of the pre-tournament favorites — apparently for good reason.
Chamblee came out of the gates strong and fast. On the first day of competition, he brought 6 bass to the scales (the limit that year was 8) weighing — you guessed it — 26 pounds, 1 ounce. It was enough for a nearly 4-pound lead over his closest challenger and more than enough to get the press and crowds talking about a Classic being won by an angler from the host state.
Day 2 was even better for Chamblee. Though his catch was more than cut in half (12-6), he caught one more keeper than the day before and his lead actually increased to 5-15. It looked like he was going to coast to victory.
Of course, that didn't happen, and it's why we're talking about him today.
On the final day of the 1975 Classic, Chamblee blanked ... zeroed ... got shut out. It was the first and only time a Classic leader has ever been skunked on the final day, the first time an angler led each of the first two days but didn't win and (at the time) the biggest Day 2 lead that was overcome.
Chamblee had been passed by eventual winner Jack Hains and Marvin Baker. He finished the event in third place, nearly 7 pounds off the pace.
The slip from first to third on the final day is, surprisingly, a tie for the biggest collapse by any Day 2 Classic leader. It's happened three times since, most recently to Kevin VanDam in 2007. Every other Day 2 leader has gone on to win the tournament or slipped to second place.
Tomorrow we'll cover the highs and the lows of the number 25.