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Classic Countdown | Just Misses at the Bassmaster

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Dalton Bobo just missed winning the 1997 Classic / PAA photo
This week, the Bassmaster Classic is in New Orleans and will crown a new Champion for 2011. Kevin VanDam is the reigning champion   and is always a threat no matter where the venue. Past Classic Winners Skeet Reese, Mike Iaconelli,  Alton Jones, Mark Davis, Boyd Duckett and Paul Elias will also be there trying to add to their resumes as well.  Local favorites like Cliff Pace and Greg Hackney are also getting the  nod as favorites. Sentimental favorites include Gary Klein, 29 Classics under his belt without a win, along with  Aaron Martens and Tommy Biffle. Martens and Biffle have had second place finishes on numerous occasions. Klein has finished close both at the 2003 event, Mike Iaconelli won,  and at a previous classic when he got locked out and arrived late for the weigh in.  He had enough weight in the boat to win that Classic.
At the Classic, close  gets no cigar, and finishing second doesn’t amount to much even in the history books. The Classic is really a winner take all event.
Those that follow the Bassmaster Classic closely will also remember two other events where anglers had the fish to win, but unfortunate circumstances caused them to just miss winning the most coveted trophy in fishing.
In 1997, I had the honor of fishing the Wrangler Nationals in  Shreveport, La. on the Red River. High muddy water saw numerous boats damaged or  destroyed and Federation Director Don Corkran threatened to pair the field up if one more boat was scratched.   It was the first major tournament of any kind on that body of water. It was all new but one angler Dalton Bobo figured the fish out.  He fished a small  clear backwater pool off the main river for the win. He even got an area named after him, the Bobo Hole, that shows on maps of the area today.
With the victory, he assured himself a spot in the 1997 Classic on Logan Martin  Lake in his home state of Alabama. Bobo fished a flawless Classic and had enough gross weight to win the Classic but had a single dead fish and associated penalty that cost him winning. Dion Hibdon won that Classic.
In 1989, Jim  Bitter lost a fish he will always remember. He had the fish in the boat  and while measuring a 12-inch bass, it slipped from his grasp and lost the fish back into the water and chance for his first Classic win went with it. Hank Parker ended up winning that event on the James River  with 2 ounces more than Bitter.
Will 2011 be another Classic where a “near miss” could occur? We will be there. From take-off to the Classic Outdoor Show and weigh-ins, Wired2Fish will be updating numerous times each day, keeping you current on the events all day every day.