Pace wins Bassmaster Classic

Posted February 28, 2013 at 10:03 am

Dan Rahier didn’t expect to personally meet Hank Parker for a backstage casting lesson, and certainly never expected to have the opportunity to cast for a $100,000 check. The Dixon X-ray Technician was randomly selected from a packed BOK Center crowd to test his casting skills in the Berkley Trilene Cast for Cash contest at the final weigh in of the Bassmaster Classic Sunday, Feb. 24.

Although Dan’s attempt at the $100K fell just left of his target, he was given a second shot at the target for a cool $25,000. This attempt just missed the mark once again, but for his effort Berkley awarded him with a $5,000 check.

“The Berkley Trilene Cast for Cash was a tremendous success,” said Andrew Marks, Berkley Marketing Director. “Dan was a great contestant and was really close on both attempts. He had a great practice session with Hank Parker backstage and was really confident using the gear. Berkley Trilene is proud to sponsor the event and look forward to next year in Alabama.”

Dan chose an Abu Garcia Revo SX baitcast reel spooled with new improved 12# Trilene XL and an Abu Garcia Veritas rod for his $100,000 cast. Hank Parker, legendary Bass angler, was on hand to provide one-on-one assistance and casting tips, ensuring Dan had the best chance to win the cash prize.

“This is my first Bassmaster Classic to attend so obviously I was thrilled to be selected,” said Dan. “I haven’t fished in a while, but I hit the waters anytime I can. It was pretty exciting coming out onto the Classic floor. Initially you start to think what would I do if I make this thing happen. I would’ve paid off the boat and taken my wife on a vacation. When I missed both times I was pretty bummed, but Berkley came through with $5,000. That absolutely made my day.”

Cliff Pace of Petal, MS., the 43rd world championship of bass fishing, the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. His prize for a three-day catch of 54 pounds, 12 ounces, was $500,000 and the most coveted trophy of the sport.

His victory on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees was wire-to-wire, although he shared the first-day lead with the 2003 Classic champ, Michael Iaconelli of Pittsgrove, N.J. On the second day, Pace stepped over the entire 53-angler field, surpassing his nearest challenger – Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, ID – by 7 pounds. Sunday Pace took the win with a margin of 3 pounds, 4 ounces, over Palaniuk, who had to settle?

Each day of the competition brought a new complication, from snow, rain, below-freezing temperatures and then warming air and water under high, bluebird skies – all challenges for anglers. Pace overcame the changing fishing conditions, weighing consistent bags of bass the first two days. Friday he had 21-8, and Saturday he did even better with 21-12.

But Sunday he experienced a reverse that gave him some uneasy hours out on Grand Lake. The day, he said, “was probably the hardest day I’ve ever spent on my boat. I caught two in the first hour and didn’t get another bite until about 1:30.”

He said the wind direction Sunday was not to his advantage.

“The places I was on were like flat glass today. I knew when I saw that, I was probably not going to catch any, but they had been so good to me for two days, I fished them. But I never got a bite on that stuff today,” he said.

He went 5 1/2 hours without a bite.

“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 I’d better slow down and fish like I’d been fishing,” he said. “Then I pulled up to a place and caught two on back-to-back casts. That gave me four.”

In the end, his Sunday weight of 11-8 was enough to slide home.

Pace said his winning lures were Jackall jerkbaits — a Squad Minnow and a Soul Shad — plus a Jackall DD Cherry crankbait in a crawdad color. He also used a 1/2-ounce B&M Football Jig with a V&M Twin Tail trailer in green pumpkin. He dipped the plastic trailer’s tails in orange dye for greater visibility in Grand Lake’s stained water.

He had two main patterns. Early in the morning, when the bass were deeper, he worked the football head jig deep on channel banks and on the inside of main-lake points. When the sun came out, he tied on a jerkbait for fish that had moved up shallower on shelves.

“That’s how I caught a lot of my big ones — except today. I never got a bite on a jerkbait today,” Pace said. “Sometimes during the day, fishing a place where there wasn’t any wind on it, and the fish wouldn’t come up to take a jerkbait, I’d throw the DD Cherry.”

With his $500,000 Classic prize, Pace became the 39th member of the B.A.S.S. Millionaires Club — anglers who have surpassed the $1 million mark in earnings from Bassmaster events.

The Carhartt Big Bass of the 2013 Classic was the 7-pound, 4-ounce largemouth brought to the scales by Mark Pierce of Clarksville, TN, on Day 1. He could collect a bonus from Carhartt of up to $2,500.