Picking 'Mount Bassmore'



Rick Clunn wins his fourth Classic title.

OK, I admit it, I am a sucker for “Mount Rushmore” topics. Pick anything, and boil it down to just four. It's not as easy as you think.

The Mount Rushmore of college football coaches. I hope they didn’t make that one too long ago, because Nick Saban has to be on there. Bear Bryant too. But who are the other two? Bobby Bowden? I’m good with that. Knute Rockne? Incredible record and died young. Joe Pa? Stained. Eddie Robinson? Bud Wilkinson? Amos Alonzo Stagg? Urban Meyer? Maybe in the Joe Paterno category.

How about golfers? Just four. Jack and Tiger, but then who? Bobby Jones? Hagen? Hogan? Arnie? He did more for professional golf than anyone before Tiger. So you see the dilemma of a Mount Rushmore list.

NASCAR is another tough one. You have to have Petty, Earnhardt and yes, Jimmy Johnson, all seven-time season champs. Then who? Waltrip? Pearson? Yarbrough? You see my point.

So that brings us to “Mount Bassmore,” the four greatest fishing industry professionals ever. These are not contributors. That list would have Ray Scott and Forrest Wood, maybe Tom Mann or Jimmy Houston and Bill Dance. That’s a whole different list. I’m looking strictly at professional anglers. As in golf, the all-time money list is irrelevant. Jack Nicklaus isn’t in the Top 100. Jim Furyk is fourth. Skeet Reese is second all-time to Kevin VanDam, but Skeet doesn’t get carved in stone ... at least not yet.

The trick here is to properly value Bassmaster Classic wins with Angler of the Year and tour wins. Earlier, I mentioned Dance and Houston, both very good tournament anglers, but guys who chose to make their mark more in the TV world, educating millions of would be anglers. Bill Dance did win three of the first seven AOYs, and seven tour events, but never a Classic. He just misses this mountain.

Roland Martin won a record nine AOYs and 19 Tour events. He never got the elusive Classic win, but come on, carve that guy in. Kevin VanDam is a no brainer with four Classic wins, 25 (and counting) Elite wins and all the money. Also a no brainer, the guy ESPN named the best back in 2005, four-time Classic champ Rick Clunn. Clunn is a 15-time tournament winner as well, but somehow, he only won the AOY once.

So now we have but one spot remaining, with plenty of contenders. Mark Davis has three AOYs and a Classic, but not enough wins. Aaron Martens has three AOYs, nine wins but no Classic, although he’s been second numerous times. He also just misses the mountain. Larry Nixon is a tough one, with 14 wins, a Classic and two AOYs. Start chiseling. But wait. With 17 wins, an AOY and a Classic, I’m going with Denny Brauer. Wait … Nixon made four more Classics than Brauer … Nixon. No, Brauer. So who do you have?

Now, if I asked Bassmaster Editor James Hall to name “Mount Lakemore,” the four best bassin’ holes of all-time, I think his head would explode.