There have been three previous Bassmaster Classics in the state of Louisiana. They took place in 1999, 2001 and 2003 and were all held on the Louisiana Delta out of New Orleans. Each was significant in its own way.
The first Louisiana Classic was won by two-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Davy Hite. He dominated the competition, catching 55 pounds, 10 ounces of bass over three days and beating his closest competitor (Denny Brauer) by almost 10 pounds.
Hite's 55-10 set the Classic record for winning weight in the five-bass-limit era. It held the top spot until 2006 when Luke Clausen won with 56-2 on Florida's Kissimmee Chain.
The 1999 Classic was also memorable for the heat. Temperatures exceeded 100 degrees on the water and anglers struggled to stay hydrated and focused. The two hottest days in Classic were the first and final days of that event.
On the Red River this week, record high temperatures won't be an issue, though lows may approach Classic marks.
Tennessee's Jack Wade set a Classic record in 1999 that he'd just as soon forget. After leading the championship on Day 1 with 16-13, the wheels fell off for him. He slipped to seventh on Day 2 and to ninth on Day 3, 17-14 off the lead. It was the biggest collapse — by weight — in Classic history.
The 2001 Classic is best known as the one in which Kevin VanDam broke through to win. It was his 11th try for the title, and the crown solidified his growing claim to being the very best in the business. He took the lead on Day 2 and held on for the win.
When BASS came back to the Delta for the 2003 Classic, it did so with a bang!
Gunshots were fired in the direction of Classic competitor and crowd favorite Gary Klein. As Klein was headed to his best fishing water, a landowner fired at his boat. Not one to be unreasonable in the face of an unreasonable situation, Klein decided to leave the area and live to cast another day. He finished second, less than 2 pounds off the pace. Inexplicably, the person who fired at Klein was not prosecuted for the assault.
The man who beat Klein was Michael Iaconelli, the flamboyant pro from New Jersey. Ike's last-minute heroics bested the largest field in Classic history (63 anglers) and established him as a legitimate force in professional fishing. His "Never give up!" mantra electrified a young generation of anglers who were looking for someone a little louder, a little brasher and a lot different from the pros they had seen before.
Who will take the next step in his (or her) career at the Red River later this week? All of the heroes of past Louisiana Classics will be there — Hite, VanDam, Iaconelli and Klein — plus 47 others who are already dreaming about the win, the cash, the trophy and the glory.There are less than three days to go!If one's the loneliest number, then let's make two the oldest number. More on that tomorrow.