TULSA, Okla. — Being able to say you caught the biggest bass in the Bassmaster Classic is a huge honor. And Mark Pierce, who represented the Southern division of the B.A.S.S. Nation in the Classic, is the one person who can say that for 2013.
"That's pretty awesome to be able to say that," said Pierce, 34, an active-duty Army serviceman.
He was nonchalant when he first hooked the 7-pound, 4-ounce bass because he thought it was just another of several drum he had been catching. But when he realized it was indeed a bass, he was excited. "I might have let out a little Mike Iaconelli scream," he said.
Pierce finished in 49th place in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. It's definitely not as high in the results as he would have liked, but he can hang his hat on the Carhartt Big Bass award he received. And, as he pointed out (tongue-in-cheek), with only two fish at 7-4 and 2-0, he had the best average bass weight during the Classic, too.
Pierce was among the six representatives the B.A.S.S. Nation sent to the Classic, five of which did not make the Top 25 cut for Day 3. Jonathan Carter of Maine is the only angler who achieved that, and after a huge 18-pound, 11-ounce bag on Day 1, his bags lightened up over the next two days, delivering a finish for him of 17th place with 36-10.
Carter was in seventh place on Days 1 and 2, and members of the B.A.S.S. Nation were rooting for him to pull off a win. His first-graders were rooting for him, too, and when he returned to the classroom on Tuesday, students in the school's kindergarten had made a display for him (below).
Then, after lunch on his first day back, his first-grade students and some kindergarteners showed him the books they had done as part of a lesson while he was gone about following dreams. They asked him his advice on following dreams: "I told them to work hard, practice a lot, and do everything they can to get there," said Carter.
Below are the finishes for all B.A.S.S. Nation anglers:
- Jonathan Carter, Eastern division, 17th place, 36-10
- Gerry Jooste, Mid-Atlantic, 35th place, 20-15
- Mark Dove, Northern, 36th place, 20-8
- Andy Bravence, Western, 45th place, 11-12
- Mark Pierce, Southern, 49th place, 9-4
- Jared Knuth, Central, 52nd place, 4-0