Rick Clunn proved over the weekend that he still has some of the magic that made him one of the all-time top fishermen on the B.A.S.S. professional tour.
Clunn, 69, of Ava, Mo., became the oldest fisherman to win a B.A.S.S. tournament when he took the title Sunday in an Elite Series tournament on the St. Johns River in Florida. And he did it in impressive fashion, turning in 20 bass weighing 87 pounds, 15 ounces of bass in four days of fishing.
It was his performance Saturday that had fishermen talking. He caught five bass weighing 31 pounds, 7 ounces — one of the best days of his pro career that stretches back to 1974 — and jumped from 31st place into the lead. He capped his weekend by catching another limit of bass Sunday, this one weighing 19 pounds, and he coasted to the victory and took home the first-place check of $100,000.
Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., was second with 20 bass weighing 77 pounds, 15 ounces. Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira also had a good weekend, finishing fifth with 20 bass weighing 74 pounds, 2 ounces.
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But the spotlight belonged to Clunn, who has won 15 B.A.S.S. tournaments and four Bassmaster Classics, but hadn’t taken a championship since 2002.
“Never accept that all of your accomplishments are in the past,” Clunn told B.A.S.S. reporters after Saturday’s round. “Most of us go through a peak period. But when you start to lose that, you start to wonder.
“Maybe I don’t have as many great moments ahead, but I still have great moments to look forward to.”
Clunn caught most of his bass on a homemade bladed jig with a green skirt and a white Luck-E-Strike swimbait as a trailer. He went to the bait after watching local fishermen catch bass on live shiners earlier in the week, and he came up with an imitation of that live bait.