It was a mixed bag at the 2013 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake O' the Cherokees out of Tulsa, Okla. Early hype and speculation that catch records would fall dissipated as snow fell instead throughout the final practice day. Instead, it was a good tournament with solid catches and great crowds at the Expo and weigh-ins.
Here's how the 2013 Classic stacks up statistically:
• The 1,476 pounds, 2 ounces of bass weighed in over three days was the fourth most in Classic history, but that was partly a factor of having the second largest field ever. When you break it down by angler day, the average angler weighed in 11.27 pounds as he crossed the stage. That ranks fifth all-time. Best ever was 12.43 pounds on the Red River in 2009.
• Bass size was strong on Grand Lake for the Classic. The average fish brought to the scales weighed 2.69 pounds, and that ranks third in Classic history behind the St. Lawrence River in 1980 (2.93 pounds) and the Red River in 2009 (2.85 pounds).
• Cliff Pace's winning weight of 54-12 ranks as the eighth best catch in the five-bass-limit era of the Classic. Kevin VanDam's 69-11 in 2011 on the Louisiana Delta leads the way. That tournament has the top three weights in Classic history and five of the top 10.
• The Oklahoma triumvirate of Jason Christie, Tommy Biffle and Edwin Evers will probably look at this Classic as the one that got away. They finished seventh, 24th and 25th respectively despite high hopes for all three. The Curse of the Classic Local lives on!
• The Grand Lake Classic will go down in the books as the coldest ever. Morning temperatures in nearby Grove, Okla., were 21, 19 and 26 degrees on the three days of competition, respectively. Those are the three coldest temperatures ever recorded in Classic history.
• For the first time in Classic history, a competition day ended in a tie. That happened after the first round when Michael Iaconelli and Cliff Pace were knotted at 21-8. Pace came back on Day 2 with the heaviest catch of the entire tournament and went on to win comfortably.
• Pace became the eighth angler to go wire-to-wire for his Classic win ... sort of. On Day, he wasn't alone at the top, but he always held at least a share of the lead.
• Defending champ Chris Lane zeroed on the first day, but came roaring back in the second round with the fourth best catch of that day. It was the first time a defending champion ever zipped in the first round of his title defense.
• B.A.S.S. Nation qualifier Mark Pierce caught the big bass of the tournament, a 7-4 largemouth that struck on the first day. Pierce becomes the 10th B.A.S.S. Nation angler to catch a daily big bass in Classic history and the fourth to catch the biggest of the event. The last B.A.S.S. Nation angler to have big fish of the Classic was Thomas Vickers of Denver, N.C., at the 1996 Classic on Lay Lake in Alabama. Pierce's 7-4 lunker may or may not be the heaviest caught by a Nation angler, but it's certainly the largest ever to take big bass honors. (In tournaments when bigger bass were caught — e.g., the 2006 Classic on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes — a Nation angler might have weighed in a bass bigger than 7-4, but it didn't get recognized because several larger bass were caught.)
• Apart from Pierce's big bass (his lone fish on Day 1), the Nation struggled in this Classic. Only Maine's Jonathan Carter made the cut and fished the final round. Carter finished 17th after being in seventh place at the end of each of the first two days. Ultimately, it seems that he ran out of fish as his catch fell precipitously each day. The other five Nation qualifiers finished between 35th and 52nd.
• Auburn University's Matt Lee was unable to improve upon the finish of last year's College B.A.S.S. qualifier, Andrew Upshaw of Stephen F. Austin University. Upshaw finished 32nd in 2012. Lee was 46th this year. Nevertheless, the man who bested his brother to get to the Classic (in extraordinarily dramatic fashion, by the way) quickly became a fan favorite.