Welcome to our Classic Countdown! There are now 36 days until the first day of the 2009 Bassmaster Classic. That means it's time to take a look at three times a dozen and how that number influences the Bassmaster Classic.
If you had to pick the perfect age to fish a Bassmaster Classic, that age would be — you guessed it — 36. Why? Well, the average age of all the Classic champs is exactly 36.66 years.
Three past champions were 36 years old when they won the title: Hank Parker (1989), David Fritts (1993) and Jay Yelas (2002).
Perhaps not surprisingly, there are more 36-year-old qualifiers in this year's Classic than any other age — 6. Brent Chapman, Tim Horton, Michael Iaconelli, Aaron Martens, Brian Snowden and David Williams are all 36 years old now. In fact, Iaconelli will be almost exactly 36.66, making him a perfect candidate to win ... again. Ike took the title back in 2003, also on Louisiana waters.
But though the average age of a Classic champ is 36, winners have ranged from 21 (Stanley Mitchell in 1981) to 54 (Woo Daves in 2000). In 2009, there are no qualifiers young enough to break Stanley Mitchell's mark for precociousness, but there are two anglers old enough to surpass Woo Daves as the oldest ever to win: Bernie Schultz, who would pass Daves by three months, and Rick Clunn, who, at 62 years of age, could put the record to rest for a long time ... or at least until the Zen Master qualifies for another championship.
Clunn's Classic career spans 36 years (inclusive). He fished his first in 1974 on Wheeler Lake in Alabama. He's fished 32 in all, which is a record, of course. More on that in a few days.
BASS held its first February Classic back in 2006 — 36 months ago — on Florida's Lake Tohopekaliga, just a stone's throw from BASS headquarters in Celebration. Before that, the Classic was fished in the fall and summer.
Prior to setting up offices in Celebration, BASS was located in Montgomery, Ala. ... for about 36 years.
Find out tomorrow why a 35-year-old angler is the favorite to win the 2009 Bassmaster Classic.