Kevin VanDam already holds lots of Bassmaster Classic records, and this year he's going for more. Keep clicking to take a look at some of the biggest and most important records in Classic history.
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Most Classic wins
With Classic championships in 1976, 1977 (pictured here), 1984 and 1990, Rick Clunn was the first to four titles. Kevin VanDam got there in 2011 after earlier titles in 2001, 2005 and 2010. Bobby Murray, Hank Parker and George Cochran have two championships each.
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Most Classic 2nd place finishes
No one has captured more Classic runner-up finishes than Aaron Martens with four. Martens was the bridesmaid in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2011. Tommy Biffle, Denny Brauer, Rick Clunn and Ricky Green each finished second twice.
Photo: Ken Duke
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Most Classic 3rd place finishes
Most fans know KVD has won four Classics, but few realize that he's finished third three times — in 2004, 2007 and 2008. Five other anglers have finished third two times in their Classic careers.
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Back-to-back Classic championships
Winning the biggest tournament in the sport two times in a row is a major accomplishment. That's why it's only been done twice. Rick Clunn achieved the feat in 1976 and 1977. Kevin VanDam did it in 2010 and 2011. VanDam is going for the three-peat this year. When Clunn tried for a third consecutive Classic in 1978, he fell just short, finishing second to Bobby Murray.
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Most top 5 Classic finishes
With 11 top five finishes, including four wins, Rick Clunn sets the standard for the Bassmaster Classic. Kevin VanDam is second with nine top five finishes in his 21 previous appearances.
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Most Classic appearances
Through the 2012 edition, there have been 42 Bassmaster Classics, and Rick Clunn has competed in all but 10. His 32 Classic appearances are the record, and it's certain to stand for at least a few more years. Gary Klein is second with 29 appearances.
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Most consecutive Classic appearances
Between 1974 and 2001, Rick Clunn was a Bassmaster Classic qualifying machine, making 28 straight championships. Here he is 1975, at his second Classic. In 2012, Kevin VanDam made it to his 22nd consecutive Classic, putting him in second place.
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Most active consecutive Classic appearances
Every year since becoming a full-time bass pro in 1991, Kevin VanDam has met fishing's benchmark. He's qualified for the Bassmaster Classic. If he can do it in each of the next six seasons, he'll tie Rick Clunn with 28 straight. Check back in 2018.
Photo: Ken Duke
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State with most Bassmaster Classic qualifiers
With such bass fishing luminaries as Rick Clunn (early in his career), Gary Klein (most of his career), Larry Nixon, Tommy Martin (shown here in 1974), Zell Rowland and Harold Allen, Texas has filled 278 Classic spots over the years. That's exactly 100 more than Arkansas, which ranks second.
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Most qualifiers from one state in Classic
The Lone Star State sent 12 qualifiers to the 1983 Bassmaster Classic on the Ohio River, including the winner, Larry Nixon. There were only 42 anglers competing that year, so Texans represented more than a quarter of the field. Texas has also sent 11 anglers to the Classic five other times.
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Heaviest winning catch
Under the rules of the 2012 Classic, anglers can only bring five bass to the scales. That wasn't always true. At the first Classic, the limit was 10 bass, and at different times the limit has been eight, seven, six and five. In 1984, when the daily limit was seven bass, Rick Clunn (pictured here in 1977) lapped the Classic field with a three day catch weighing 75-9, still the record for the championship.
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Lightest winning catch
Not only does Kevin VanDam have the Classic record for heaviest catch in the five bass era (69-11 in 2011), but he also holds the record for lightest winning catch. In 2005 it took just 12 pounds, 15 ounces to win the Pittsburgh Classic on Three Rivers.
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Heaviest daily catch
In the five-bass limit era, the heaviest single day catch belongs to 2006 Bassmaster Classic champ Luke Clausen, who posted 29 pounds, 6 ounces on the first day and never looked back. Clausen became the seventh wire-to-wire winner in Classic history and the most recent.
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Largest margin of victory
Complete and total domination. That's the only way to describe Rick Clunn's performance at the 1984 Bassmaster Classic on the Arkansas River. On all three days of competition Clunn (pictured here in 2005) posted the heaviest catch of the entire field, totaling 75 pounds, 9 ounces and beating his closest competitor by more than 25 pounds.
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Smallest margin of victory
One ounce! That's all that separated Dion Hibdon, the 1997 Bassmaster Classic champion, from Dalton Bobo, the second place finisher — and that was after Bobo suffered a four ounce dead fish penalty. It was the closest finish Classic in history, and until we have one that ends in a fish-off it always will be.
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Most Classic appearances without a win
Bassmaster Classic disappointment has a name, and it's Gary Klein. The two-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year and 29-time Classic qualifier has never won fishing's biggest tournament, though he's come close several times. He has half a dozen top five finishes and was runner-up in 2003. Roland Martin fished 25 Classics without ever winning.
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Cumulative weight for Classic career
Seven hundred seventy-two pounds and 10 ounces. That's how much weight Rick Clunn has posted in his 32 Bassmaster Classic appearances. It's more than 100 pounds better than his closest challenger — you guessed it, Kevin VanDam, who has 668-12.
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Best finish in home state
For 36 years, the Bassmaster Classic had a home water "jinx." No angler living in the state hosting the championship had ever won, despite dozens of anglers having the opportunity. In 2007, Boyd Duckett of Demopolis, Ala., broke through, winning the championship on Lay Lake and proving that you can win at home.
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Biggest comeback after Day 1
The Bassmaster Classic has not traditionally been the stage for comebacks. Most often, the tournament is won by one of the top two or three anglers after the first day, but in 1972 and again in 1990 the 14th place angler after Day 1 bounced back to win it all. In 1972, Don Butler provided the magic. In 1990, it was Rick Clunn.
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Biggest comeback after Day 2
Mired in 10th place and down by nearly as many pounds after two days in the 1990 Classic, most would have written Rick Clunn off despite his incredible track record in the championship. Of course, they would have been wrong. Not only did Clunn go on to have the best catch of any angler on the final day, he won convincingly, taking his fourth championship.
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For 30 years Ricky Green's 8-pound, 9-ounce Lake Guntersville largemouth from the 1976 Classic held the top spot among championship lunkers. Then came Day 1 of the 2006 Classic on Florida's Kissimmee Chain. Four anglers passed Green's mark that day, led by Preston Clark's 11-pound, 10-ounce behemoth. In 1976 and again in 2006, Rick Clunn had the mark for biggest Classic lunker for several minutes, only to be eclipsed by Green and Clark.
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Stanley Mitchell was just 21 years, 5 months and 19 days old when he won the 1981 Classic on the Alabama River, setting the record for youngest champion. No one in the 2012 championship is young enough to break that mark, which has already stood for more than 30 years and shows no signs of weakening.
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Only two anglers over the age of 50 have ever won the Bassmaster Classic. The oldest was Woo Daves in 2000 at the age of 54 years, 2 months and 28 days. In 2012, Denny Brauer, Tom Jessop and Shaw Grigsby all have a chance to surpass Daves.
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At 19 years and 11 days of age, Gregory Ward (grandson of television fishing legend Virgil Ward) set a record that may last decades more when he qualified to fish the 1975 Classic. Two other teenagers (David Brind and David Dudley) have also fished the Classic.
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At 65 years, 9 months and 2 days of age, Shorty Evans was the oldest angler ever to compete in the Bassmaster Classic when he fished the 1978 championship. In 2012, Denny Brauer and Tom Jessop make the top 10 list of oldest Classic competitors.
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Classic all-time money leader
Classic money has increased dramatically in the past 10 years, so it's no surprise that Kevin VanDam leads the way in earnings with $1,525,100. That represents a substantial part of his overall career prize money. No other angler has earned even half as much in the championship.
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Best Classic finish by a Federation Nation angler
In 1994 Bryan Kerchal became the first B.A.S.S. Federation Nation angler to win the Bassmaster Classic, inspiring tens of thousands of amateurs around the world. Danny Correia (1986) and Dalton Bobo (1997) finished second while representing the Federation Nation in the Classic, but no one has matched Kerchal's achievement.
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Heaviest total weight for the Classic field
In 2009, on the same Red River that is the site of the 2012 Bassmaster Classic, championship anglers weighed in 1,578 pounds, 14 ounces of bass over three days — the record for the Classic. They averaged 12.43 pounds per angler day, also the top mark.
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Biggest lead after Day 1
At the 1976 Bassmaster Classic, Bo Dowden jumped out to an 8 pound, 6 ounce lead on Day 1, the biggest in Classic history. Unfortunately for Dowden, Rick Clunn brought more than 33 pounds to the scales on Day 2 (there was a 10-bass limit), passing Dowden and going on to claim his first championship.
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Biggest lead after Day 2
After two days at the 1984 Classic on the Arkansas River, Rick Clunn (pictured here in 2006) led the field by 15 1/2 pounds. Clunn had the heaviest catch on all three days that year. He saved the best for last, too, by bringing in his biggest catch on the final day and winning by more than 25 pounds.
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Classic champ and AOY in same year
In 1995, Mark Davis dominated like no one before him, winning both the Bassmaster Angler of the Year title and the Bassmaster Classic in the same season. Fifteen years later, Kevin VanDam did it ... and then did it a second time the next year. In 2012, he goes for the ultimate three-peat — AOY and the Classic in the same season.