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.”
THE FINAL SHOOT
JM Associates is numb from the tragic loss of Rick Mason. Somber, stunned and shocked doesn’t begin to describe the feelings of his co-workers.
The 54-year-old, who died of a heart attack last Monday, was a dedicated worker who ran Bassmaster TV cameras through snow, rain, heat and gloom of early morning. Rick mostly kept his nose to the grindstone, but he did enjoy a good laugh, evidenced by how much he was liked by all the Elites and co-workers he touched.
To get a feel for Rick, see Steve Bowman’s report. There are a couple of instances I’d like to share about Rick.
Remember the rain at the 2015 Elite event on the Sabine River? Rick, and the rest of the cameramen, filmed all of Day 3 in an absolute deluge. It was so bad, and they got so drenched, all but one of the cameras feeding Bassmaster LIVE died.
With Championship Sunday looming — and no way to replace the cameras that transmit via cell signal — Rick went to work with fans and blow dryers to get the cameras back rolling.
“Rick sat there through the entire weigh-in blow drying them,” Howard Downs, JM’s chief engineer, said. “He got one of them back up, then put one in front of a fan while he was drying another and swapped them back and forth.”
Mason got them both working, then he took the final camera to his hotel room and spent the night blow drying it until it worked. (See Storm tested, Bassmaster approved.)
Another time he was asked about items lost overboard and told a story of how he rigged a GoPro on a paint roller so it would pivot and stay level as he submerged it for underwater shots. He had actually recorded a couple of what he hopes would be neat fish catches before some weeds snagged his rig, knocking the camera off.
“I was mad about the camera,” he said, “but I was more concerned about losing the underwater fish-catch footage.”
See Mason’s obituary.
NEW MEANING TO CATCHING BRONZE?
Ah-ha, so that’s why Mike Iaconelli just toured Japan. He was pre-practicing in case fishing becomes an official sport in the 2020 Toyko Olympic Games.
That’s right, the international governing body for fishing, the Confederation Internationale de la Peche Sportive, put in an application to add fishing as a competition. But critics claim fishing “involves too much luck, is incomprehensible to outsiders and too boring to watch.”
Confederation president Ferenc Szalay’s counters that angling’s “ancient and fair competition system” is right for Olympic ideals.
Sending over Team USA of Ike, G-Man and the Lane brothers would be colorful and gain attention, but these international fishing competition are not usually for bass.
Fishing, which could join the newly selected sports of skateboarding, surfing, climbing, karate and baseball/softball, was featured in the Olympics once before. Only six nations participated and no winner was recorded when fishing was an unofficial sport in the Paris Games of 1900, so it’s not confirmed that Tommy Biffle took the bronze medal there.