This past Sunday, Cliff Pace of Mississippi outdistanced a field of 53 of the worlds top bass anglers to win the 2013 Bassmaster Classic at Grand Lake O the Cherokees in Tulsa, Okla. Paces three-day catch of 54 pounds, 12 ounces earned the angler $500,000 and the most coveted trophy in the sport of angling.
Pace had previously fished in five Classics, and his best finish was second in 2008 when Alton Jones of Texas won the event at South Carolinas Lake Hartwell.
Commenting on the significance of the 2013 victory, the 32-year-old Pace said, This is a gift that I will always cherish. This is the ultimate high of a career, a life-changing moment.
With his 2013 Classic earnings, the Mississippi angler becomes the 39th member of the BASS Millionaires Club, a group that consists of anglers who have surpassed the one million dollar mark in earnings from Bassmaster events.
Day One: A field of 53 anglers took to the water when temperatures dipped below the freezing mark. Despite the cold-front conditions, Cliff Pace caught a five-fish limit of 21 pounds, 8 ounces as did New Jerseys Mike Iaconelli, the winner of the 2003 Classic, to gain a share of the lead. Pace went two hours without a bite but then managed to catch two good fish, including a 6-pound, 8-ounce largemouth, in the last hours of the day. Pace said the key to his Day One catch was fishing slowly, and that he caught two bass on a jig, one on a crankbait, and two on a jerkbait.
In third place after round one was Hank Cherry, a Classic rookie from North Carolina, who weighed in a five-fish limit of 20 pounds, 15 ounces. Four-time Bassmaster Classic champion Kevin VanDam of Michigan followed in fourth with a catch of 19 pounds, 12 ounces while Tracy Adams of North Carolina and Jason Christie of Oklahoma held the fifth and sixth positions.
Day Two: Day Two again saw Pace atop the leader board based on his five-fish catch of 21 pounds, 12 ounces that gave the angler a 7-pound lead over his competitors. The day started slowly for Pace as he didnt catch his first fish until 10 a.m., but the angler did catch the biggest bass of the day, a 7-pound, 2-ounce largemouth.
Pace said, I didnt fish differently today at all. For me, its been all about committing to the way I can catch the big ones. I took a big, big risk to do that. I think Im doing something that has potential and will hold through tomorrow.
Brandon Palaniuk of Idaho moved from 11th place to 2nd on Day Two based on his two-day catch of 36 pounds, 4 ounces. The 25-year-old angler said, It was actually my last fish that made the difference.
Iaconelli dropped from a first-place tie to third place while Cherry moved down one spot to fourth and Christie moved up one spot to fifth. Van Dam managed only four fish on Day Two so he fell from fourth place to sixth place.
Day Three: Day Three saw the field of competing anglers reduced from 53 to the top 25. Despite having a 7-pound lead, the day was an uneasy one for Pace who said, Today was the hardest day Ive ever spent on my boat. I caught two in the first hour and didnt get another bite until about 1:30.
Even though Pace went 5 ½ hours without a bite, he remained committed to what had worked during Day One and Day Two.
Pace commented, I never lost focus on what I was trying to do. I told myself all day that if I was going to catch them, then Id better slow down and fish like Id been fishing. Then I pulled up to a place and caught two on back-to-back casts. That gave me four. Those four fish weighed 11 pounds, 8 ounces and gave Pace the winning, 3-day catch of 54 pounds, 12 ounces.
Pace relied on two primary patterns to catch his fish. In the early morning when bass were deeper, he worked a football head jig on channel banks and on the inside of main-lake points. Once the sun came out and fished moved shallower, Pace worked a jerkbait on shelves. His top lures were Jackall jerkbaits, a Jackall deep-diving crankbait, and B&M football jig tipped with a V&M Twin Tail.
Brandon Palaniuk was unable to overcome Paces 7-pound lead, but the angler took second-place honors and $45,000 while Hank Cherry moved up to third and won $40,000. Fourth-place honors and $35,000 went to Iaconelli while fifth-place honors and $25,000 went to Mike McClelland of Arkansas, who jumped from 14th place on Day Three. Rounding out the top-ten spots were Tracy Adams, Jason Christie, VanDam, Todd Faircloth of Texas, and Randy Howell of Alabama.
ST. LAWRENCE RIVER SHOWDOWN
The Bassmaster Classic kicked off the BASS 2013 tournament season, and that season includes the prestigious Elite Series.
Since one of this years Elite Series events is the St. Lawrence River Showdown at Waddington on Aug. 8-11, Classic Champion Cliff Pace and the rest of the worlds top bass anglers will be visiting the north country this summer. The Showdown promises to be a celebration of St. Lawrence River bass fishing, and the event offers a special opportunity for area residents to participate in the associated festivities.
Saturday: Parishville Sportsmens Club 28th annual rabbit hunt (265-2922).
March 12: Federated Sportsmens Clubs of SLC meet at Canton BOCES.
March 15: Ice shanties must be removed from NYS waters.
March 17: Seasons close for cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares.
March 22-24: Great Outdoor Family Expo at Watertown Fairgrounds YMCA.