In the annals of Bassmaster Classic history, there are many records. You probably know most of them — Rick Clunn's four championships, Luke Clausen's 56-2 winning catch in 2006, Preston Clark's 11-10 lunker from the same year. These are our World Series and Super Bowl marks. This year in New Orleans, three big-time records are ripe for the picking.
In 2006, Luke Clausen set the mark for heaviest Classic weight in the 5-bass-limit era with 56-2 on the Kissimmee Chain in Florida. Before that, Davy Hite held the mark with 55-10 taken from the same Louisiana Delta that hosts this year's championship, so the Delta can produce. What's more, it's likelier to produce in February than in the heat of summer when Hite made his catch.
If the weather cooperates and there are no numbing cold fronts that shut down the fishing, there's a great chance that the winner will post better than 60 pounds in this year's Classic. One reason for increased weights is the timing. What lunkers the Delta produces typically come in February and March. Three previous Classics here produced just one bass heavier than 6 pounds. We could absolutely see an 8- or even a 10-pounder this year.
Getting rid of the monkey
He's tried 28 times before, but Gary Klein has never won the Bassmaster Classic. That's the bad news for the affable pro who calls Texas home. The good news is that he's been absolutely terrific on the Louisiana Delta, home of the 2011 Classic.
In fact, in two previous Classic appearances here (1999 and 2003), he finished fourth and second. This could be the year he finally gets the monkey off his back and loses his tag as the angler who's fished the most Classics without ever winning. He'll certainly be a favorite among pundits and Fantasy Fishing players.
Clunn gets company at four
In 2010, Kevin VanDam gave notice that Clunn's previously untouchable total of four Bassmaster Classic titles wasn't quite so untouchable. With KVD's third win, he put himself in position to tie Clunn this year and, in the process, perhaps establish himself as the greatest Classic competitor of all time.
On Lay Lake last year, VanDam used the crowd like a floating fence to prevent other anglers from sharing his water. This year, he won't have that problem on the massive Louisiana Delta. And it's unlikely that fan boats will be factor in the labyrinthine canals and cuts. The boats that follow KVD will be challenged to keep up, and he should be able to fish in relative solitude.
That's important for the world's most popular and successful bass angler. What's more, he's won here before — in 2001. What better way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his first Classic title than another championship?