Welcome to our Classic Countdown! It's now 38 days until the first day of the 2009 Bassmaster Classic, so we're tackling that number and what it means to the tournament.
For starters, 38 is the median age of the 2009 Classic qualifiers. BASS Federation Nation Champion Bryan Schmidt is the man in the middle when it comes to age and this year's Classic at 38 years, 9 months and 17 days. Twenty-five of the anglers are older, and 25 are younger.
Thirty-eight Classics ago, in 1971, Bobby Murray was locking up his win on Lake Mead in Nevada, the Classic's only trip that far west. He used a spinnerbait among the boulders to post his catch.
That was the first Classic, and it was also the first and only time that an angler who had qualified for the Classic opted not to fish it. Today it seems like a bizarre decision, but things were much different 38 years ago.
For starters, first place in the Classic wasn't half a million dollars. It was just $10,000 and there were no prizes for anything else but the daily big bass. If you finished second in the tournament and didn't catch one of the big bass, you went home empty-handed. This year you'll get a pretty nice payday, though nothing close to $500,000.
So when Florida's Johnny Adams qualified by finishing 21st in the Angler of the Year rankings that year, he had a decision to make — hop on the plane with Ray Scott and the other qualifiers bound for a "mystery lake" or stay home and save his vacation days for time with his family.
Adams chose the latter, but ultimately did make it to a Classic. In 1981 he finished 37th (that's almost 38!) on the Alabama River.
Looking for another 38? Well, look no further than the legendary Rick Clunn, who was 38 years old when he won his third Bassmaster Classic on the Arkansas River in 1984. He set the all-time Classic weight mark at 75 pounds, 9 ounces (roughly 38 times 2) and outdistanced second place by a record 25-8. Clunn had the heaviest catch each day of the event — a feat that has never been duplicated.
He's also the only Classic champ to have won fishing's biggest title at the age of 38.
Bryan Schmidt, Jay Evans, Kelly Jordon and Kotaro Kiriyama (all 38 when the Classic rolls around) are hoping he won't be the last.
Stop by tomorrow and learn why 37 is an important number to Classic qualifiers fishing in their home state.