BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Jay Yelas put together one of the most dominating Bassmaster Classic performances ever on Alabama's Lay Lake, leading wire-to-wire and claiming big bass honors each day en route to professional fishing's world championship.
Yelas became the first angler to claim the big bass on each day of Classic competition.
"This is just the thrill of a lifetime for me," said Yelas. "I can't tell you how much this means to my career and to me personally.
"Winning the Classic makes your career as a professional fisherman. The Bassmaster Classic is the pinnacle of bass tournament fishing."
Yelas secured a victory lap in the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Arena before a standing-room-only crowd by bringing in four bass weighing 10-11 on the final day to boost his three day total to 45-13.
"I think this was a really unique Classic because I don't think anyone has ever won it fishing a tailrace," he said. "It was a struggle today before they started generating water. I only had one small fish, but once the current started, I knew I was in pretty good shape."
• 2002 marked the first Classic without Rick Clunn since the 1973 event.
• In 2002, Danny Correia returned to the Classic for the first time since his second-place finish in 1986 — a 16-year gap.
Top 6 finishers
1. Jay Yelas Tyler, Texas 45-13
2. Aaron Martens Castaic, Calif. 39-09
3. David Walker Sevierville, Tenn. 35-13
4. O. T. Fears III Sallisaw, Okla. 31-06
5. Larry Nixon Bee Branch, Ark. 31-03
6. Ken Christ Kansas City, Mo. 31-01