A new Champion is crowned 2017 Bassmaster Classic final day – The field started with 52 anglers and after Saturday’s cut only the top 25 fished the final day. There are plans in place for ties if it happens because it has happened in the past. However, there isn’t a contingency should the tie be for 1st place. Should B.A.S.S. not be able to crown a new Bassmaster Champion today there will be a sudden death fish off back on Lake Conroe tomorrow morning starting around 7:30. The weights are tight and everyone is thinking of the possibility.
Editor’s Note: This is a play-by-play account of the weigh-in as it was taking place and what the anglers had to say as they completed their 2017 Classic experience. The place listed may not be the final standings:
Ish Monroe – The 1st angler called to the stage, it was clear early on he wasn’t going to stay up on the stage for long with the 10-13 weight and 4 fish giving him a total of 10 bass weighing 32-10. Not much was said while on the stage. However, as he walked into the media room later, Ish let us all know he knew who won and for the right price he would issue a spoiler alert.
Randall Tharp – moved to 3rd with 5 fish 18.8 for a total of 40-14 – The emotions I get in this tournament I just don’t get in any other, put the TM down and tried to stay out of everyone’s way and just enjoyed being here. Took the time to note after fishing all over this nation the people on the water here in Houston are the most respectful ever, Thank You!
Cliff Crochet – 4th with 3 fish at 9- 0, total of 39-10 – Thankful to be here but frustrated, happy to be here but made some bad decisions today, but it happens. Fished a frog and missed a few good ones. Said, “I think I want to just stay up here on the stage and keep talking cause it’s the classic and I’m here, but it ends, time to head home and get better.”
Jason Williamson – only one fish today 2-9,11th place with 32-12. Lots of hard work to get here, these guys will beat your brains in just working hard to get here. Found out just how tough my Nitro is today because the water here on this lake if really, really rough.
Chris Zaldain – 3 fish 9-13, total of 31.8 moves to 13th place – You have to be one heck of an angler to fish Conroe, it’s up and down and keeps you guessing. Catch 20lbs one day and then you just to try and find them the next day. You just have to be a heck of an angler to do well out here day after day, as you can see from the weights.
Brett Hite – moves to 1st with 5 at 16-6 total of 43-9, new leader of the day – had a stumble the 1st day that will haunt me here. I just went out and did what I like to do and throw a chatterbait, used the new jackhammer. Now available here in the states, I don’t have to answer 20 questions on Facebook everyday about how can I find one, he says with a smile.
Justin Lucas – came in empty today, Finished with 31-7. Been fishing professionally for 8 years now and have to say these people here and around the week are the most respectful I’ve ever got to fish around. Even though I zeroed to day I’m not going to let it get me down.
Timothy Klinger – 5 fish today with 19 pounds finished with 42-7. This was Timothy’s 1st classic – Asked about being here said, “It’s just a real drive to want to be back, talk to all those fishing the Bass Nation and find a club in your state and do well and you can be here, it’s what I did. Went on to thank God and his family for him being here.
Jared Lintner – new leader here with his 19-10 with a total weight of 46-9 – Like I said yesterday, I’m a little frustrated that this lake is full of big fish and I hadn’t caught one here yet. Today I found a big one at 6-3 and caught a few others to go with her. Been fishing shallow all week and found some paired up today fishing a flick shake behind a bunch of guys fishing creature baits and managed to catch them.
Clifford Pirch – two fish for 6-2, bringing his total up to 32-4 – Man you know what, I just thought there were more fish here. I had them found in 3 places from shallow, just coming out and then out on a drop. Started out with a 7-inch swimbait and never got a bite, but found the shad and switched to a little bitty crankbait and started catching them. Caught a lot the 1st day, but man oh man, it really got hard after that.
Todd Faircloth – 3 fish 6-4 and finished with 29-7 – I was in it to win it, but today I just tried to stay out of there way and still catch a few fish. I caught them today just no big ones.
Jacob Powroznik – 5 for 16-3, total of 43-12 – Man the weather guy is the most consistent guy around, he lies every day. I just don’t know how you can lie like that and still have a job. If you guys fish this lake and don’t run a Ranger Boat, don’t take this personal, but I think your stupid. I think this lake is the roughest lake I’ve ever been on.
Bobby Lane Jr. – 5 fish for 19-7 and becomes the new leader with a total of 47-4 – You know, I left the dock this morning and my 7-year-old daughter told me to catch a 7 pounder; then said to catch two, couldn’t find the 2nd but I got this one…Wait; how much was that fish? 7-2, right? Hay there you go! I caught your 7-pounder baby! Catch a 7-pounder daddy no catch two” and the fish was 7.2 so Lane thought that was on the mark.”
Jordan Lee – went to work in a big way, has a bag today – 5 fish for 27-4, jumps him from 25th place to 1st with the biggest bag of the tournament so far with a total weight of 56-10 – Coming in I didn’t think I had any shot at this, but as I said yesterday I think I found them and WOW what a day. I mean was thinking this is Guntersville all over again. Started rough there and it’s all I was thinking today, how it was just all coming together — just a great, great day. Lee got a little emotional and said, “Man it’s never been about the money or fame for me I just love catching fish.”
Ryan Lavigne – had 2 fish for 11-12 and a total of 41-9 – Man, I kinda like this place. Just tried to go out deep and try and find some brush, just didn’t work out. I’m living proof anyone can be here, with BASS Nation. He choked up a bit telling his family this was his best week ever and then pulled it together to thank his sponsors.
Ott DeFoe – “Current leader of the AOY race and with his bag this is why”, says the host. – brought in 5 for 18-10 and total of 48-12 and new big bass of the day with his 9-9 – said catching that fish on topwater was an amazing thing. Fishing a new bait by storm called the cover pop and it was the 1st fish of the day he was able to land. Stated he had a few bites but this was the one that started his day.
Drew Benton – 3 fish for 8-10 and total of 39-11 at his very 1st Bassmaster Classic – I played baseball a lot of years and had hoped to get to play ball in a place like this. I got here through my love of fishing starting with my papa, who took me fishing in a little 14ft johnboat, and then my family got me into sports and competition, all of it.
Steve Kennedy – had 5 for 21-15 and a total of 55-1 – Opportunities are getting shorter up here, I’m getting to be a veteran up here now. Hats off to Jordan Lee, who I was out there helping them along and sharing some of my best secrets. Who would have thought not 3 years later he’s up here beating me at the Bassmasters Classic. What a great stringer.
Kevin VanDam – had 4 fish needed 20.8 but had 9-15 and a total of 46-2 in his 26th Classic. All you want to do in the final day is be in striking distance. I switched up my game plan, but man I don’t know what really changed out there; I was catching them. Today I caught catfish and everything else but struggled today to find them. I know it’s my 26th time being here, but man, I just don’t take any of this for granted and need to say thank you to all the people who make this happen. I tell you, I’m a fan like everyone else and there is nothing like being here. I’ll be there in the crowd and my absolute favorite thing is watching an angler walk across the stage and be crowned the new Champion.
First up, Michael Iaconelli – brings in a nice one weighing 2 fish 10-15 and a total of 48-7. Ike promoted his new show “Going Ike” which will start airing 9pm tonight.
Bradley Roy – two fish for 9-10 weighing in 47-4 at his 1st ever Classic – Today was a little tougher, but the best you can hope is being in contention. I just thought more fish would have been coming my way, just thought they would move to me and I’d be able to get it. Asked Jorden if he wanted him to stay on stage and talk, “I could stand here and talk for you or…” Jordan said, “Get out of here.” The young man is still praying for a win.
James Elam – with 4 fish and 12-7 total of 50-4 – Best thing you can do after having a mediocre practice is just come in, fish and settle down and that’s what I did. Every time I turn around I think I did well and Jorden is just above me. Lots of good new guys out here and gotta say it really drives me to get back here. I’m just really grateful for what I do and for my family that supports me.
Edwin Evers – 2 fish for 6-11 and a total of 45-11 – I was very confident in what I was doing, but for whatever reason today they just wouldn’t take it. Looking back, I would do things different. If it holds out and Jorden wins this thing, he will be a great Champion for our sport. It’s been just an awesome year and can’t do it without my family and my sponsors; they are the reason I can be here.
Jordan was asked what he thinks about taking out the reigning defending Classic Champion? Giving a great answer, he didn’t think he took Evers out, “No one can take out these guys. I grow up watching them and they are just the best out there.
Dave Lefebre – one fish at 1-15 and a total of 43lbs even – The truth is, do you remember the heaven and hell thing? Well, I just couldn’t do it, I just couldn’t send another 5 fish to hell, so I just brought this one guy in. Again, the host explained where the fish go and how they are returned back to Conroe. Today Lefebre said, “I can’t believe more people didn’t just catch them today; they were just eating today. I started today with a golf ball, see this one right here. My day started out and I hear tick tick tick and all the spectators around me yelled, “Look out” and this ball, this one, was coming right for my head. So I packed it up and left the area and that’s why I didn’t win, I had to leave my fish. As important as the Classic is, it’s just not worth dying for.
Last up and the winner will be crowned
“Now here from Newport beach Ca is Brent Ehrler; needs 13-7 and has 5 fish for…(Long Pause)…11-10 and the new Bassmaster Champion at 25 years old is Jordan Lee!”
Watching Jordan saying he was shocked didn’t even start to cover his reaction. “I don’t know what to say, I’m shocked, lost for words, I thought there was no way, no way I had a shot to win here today” He goes on to say, “I’ve been close in a couple elites but Wow, never even dreamed, didn’t even think and The Classic”
Jordan’s family joined him on stage, a huge group hug by them and seeing them all huddled together is still why I love fishing, how it brings family’s together. While this was the classic and will always be something special to Jordan, his family & fans, we have the same ability to pass on this type of experience and excitement to our own family and youngsters. Just taking them fishing and sharing in their excitement when they catch their first fish, biggest fish or just enjoying the day together. Teach them to love and respect the fish we drive ourselves crazy trying to catch. Living the dream was never truer then tonight, at least until the next Champion is crowned.
See You On the Water!
Ronald S. “Fogy” Fogelson, MSgt USAF (Ret)
Impulse Fishing Rods/Okuma Reels/El Grande Lures