With his captain and first mate, and his first ever Bassmaster trophy, Cliff Crochet said he was truly living the dream, and he’s going to contact photographer James Overstreet for the photo above to help prove it was real.
“Of all the pictures I’ve ever had taken of me, from when I was a baby until present day, that is the best picture I have ever seen,” Crochet said. “That’s the picture I enjoy the most of me. We gonna buy that from Overstreet and it might be a 10 x 12 on the wall.”
It might help his come-from-behind victory in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open #3 sink in. Crochet busted the big bag on Day 3 to make up a huge deficit on the Atchafalaya Basin, his home water.
“It’s not really sunk in,” he said. “I mean, I know it’s real, but it’s kind of … ”
Kind of surreal?
“That’s the way I drew it up to happen,” he said. “That’s how you draw it up at every tournament for everything to finally come together -- it’s awesome that it finally came together.”
During Saturday’s weigh-in at the Denham Springs Bass Pro Shop, Crochet was emotional after he rallied from seventh place. He began the day 7 pounds, 13 ounces behind Fred Roumbanis, and his 18-4 bag gave him 46-6, the title, and a trip to his fourth Classic. During Saturday’s weigh-in, he equated it to a football comeback.
“It’s like being down 14 minutes (he meant points, but was a bit excited) in a football game with two minutes - you get it done,” he said.
Hey, Cliff, how about a basketball analogy?
“In basketball, when you drive it’s 3, 2, 1 and you put the shot up,” he said Monday. “In the fishing world, to be down on the last day and make a big comeback, that’s the deal.”
The 2016 Elite season had been trying for Crochet. He finished 77th in the Toyota Angler of the Year standings. But he did hold out hope for the Morgan City Open, rescheduled to October after flooding rains in February.
“I had a tough season, missed the Classic on the Elites, but I kept saying, I got one coming home. I got one coming home,” Crochet said. “Never in my wildest dream would I think it would go so perfect. It’s like 1,000 pounds off my shoulders.”
With the big deficit, Crochet wasn’t too excited on the water as he put together a bag of around 15 pounds. He thought that might contend for second place, but then he caught his kicker, a 5-12, just before 2 p.m.
“I didn’t think I had it won, but I thought now I got a chance,” he said. “That was the first time in a while that I’ve gotten emotional, real excited, when I caught a fish, because that’s the first time I caught a fish that made a big difference in the outcome of a tournament.
“So I got real excited about that one and was fist pumping. That emotion, that’s why you play the game.”
On stage, Crochet put behind a rocky season, where he made three cuts but had some poor finishes, including his first last place. About that time, his wife, Sara, and son, Ben, came on stage to fill out his favorite photo.
“Moments like this, she’s the reason it happens,” he said. “You may see my face and my name, but my beautiful wife Sara runs the show. She takes care of everything. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know where I’d be. I’d be a loser somewhere. Thanks for the applause, but she’s the captain of the team, no doubt.”