“Woo, Woo, Woo …” is all you could hear from the crowd as seasoned veteran pro angler, Woo Daves, from Burrowsville, Virginia, entered Soldier Field stadium in Chicago on the final day of competition to take the World Championship BASS Masters Classic title with 27 lbs. 13 oz.
“I primarily targeted exclusively smallmouth, using 6 lb. line and a Zoom tubejig around an abandoned seawall in front of Chicago’s Sears Tower. On a tournament like this, you’ve got to battle the winds and the odds with no sleep, and there are just so many things…fishing is such a mental thing, and that’s what so great about Rick Clunn, he’s a mental man. I fished my first BASS Classic in 1975…back then, we didn’t see the Timmy Horton’s, Kevin VanDam, Aaron Martens or Michael Iaconelli’s. What I’m talking about is all these young fishermen out there today….BASS has done an outstanding job over the years of promoting the sport through television and with BASS MASTERS Magazine, and it’s because of BASS that we’re seeing so many young anglers. What a great sport it is when you can tell these young fishermen that you can make a living doing this….Kids want to know what they can do to become a professional bass fisherman, that’s the number one question we get asked. The first thing we always tell them is, get a college education first, then if it is still your desire, get into professional fishing. Timmy Horton really had a tough tournament this week…but I told him he had nothing to be ashamed of, taking the Angler of the Year title in the 1999-2000 season is a major accomplishment, and something in which he could be very proud.”
In prior BASS classics, Woo has had a 2nd and a 3rd place finish on his home waters in Virginia, but the 1st place victory kept slipping past by mere ounces, but not this year. He goes home with $100,000 as first place prize money; and, with additional endorsements, his victory in 2000 could easily amass to over $1,000,000. Not bad for a 25-year BASS veteran who already had two national championships and 15 classics under his belt. This hard work and dedication proved his strength and abilities are only getting better every year. Woo’s sponsors going into this event were: Tracker Marine, Mercury, Zebco, Quantum, MotorGuide, Hendrick Motor Sports, Flowmaster, Diehard Batteries, Zoom Bait Co., Stren, Strike Zone Lures, Gator Grip Measuring Boards, Plano, Jack’s Juice and Striker Jigs. Woo’s final weight of 27 lbs. 13 oz. eased out 2nd place pro angler, Mark Rizk, from Antelope, California, who finished with 26 lbs. 11 oz.
At 37, Mark Rizk has only fished the BASS Western Invitationals for three years and has qualified for the Classic twice. Mark said his usual style of fishing is a very aggressive “assault pattern” but, due to conditions, he had to switch over to the new “drop-shot” finesse fishing pattern in order to find his fish. Amazingly, he had only used the drop-shot rig in one other prior tournament. He had the heaviest five-fish limit the last day of 10.1 lbs. which propelled him from third place to a second place finish.
Mark learned to fish from his dad when he was only 8. He gave up being a marine technician to follow his dream along the tournament trail and finished 7th in his first Classic. In the ‘99-2000 season, he finished in the top 25 and placed in the money in each of the BASS events he fished. His sponsors are: ProCraft Boats, Mercury, Snag Proof Lures, Worldwaters.com, Revolver Rods, VPR-Pro Team Magic, Wacko Tackle, Assault Lures, Phil’s Props and Value Plumbing.
Shaw Grigsby, who was in second before the final round of competition on Saturday, was bumped down into third place, with a total weight of 24 lbs. 7 oz. Shaw, being another seasoned veteran and truly the showman, struggled the last day to come in with just four bass, dropping him into third place. He caught both largemouth and smallmouth bass on a Luck ‘E’ Strike G4 tubejig. Shaw, at 44, has won over $1,000,000 on the BASSMASTER Tournament Trail and has his own TV Show, One More Cast With Shaw Grigsby. He is no stranger to the limelight and the promotional end of the business and his sponsors include: Triton Boats, Mercury, Zebco/Quantum, MotorGuide, Stren, Strike King, Lowrance, Luck “E” Strike Lures, Ocean Waves, Flowmaster, Hawker Energy, Ford and Team Joe Smith.
Tied for fourth place was Rick Clunn and Kotaro Kiriyama with 23 lbs. 14 oz. each. Rick was also fishing on Lake Calumet in shallow water with broken rocks. He primarily used a Bill Norman Tiny N and a Balsa BII crankbait. Being the true sportsman that he is, he admitted to two mistakes during the tournament. The first was not using enough light line and the second was not spending enough time on the main lake, obviously, he was disappointed. Rick Clunn is one of the best anglers to ever compete in BASS tournaments. He has won over $2,000,000 on the tournament trails, and at age 53 is still going strong. He has won 12 BASSMASTER tournaments and four BASS Masters Classics. He has finished in the money 71% of the 250 tournaments he has fished with BASS. His sponsors include Tracker Boats, Bass Pro Shops, Stanley Jigs, Lunker Lure, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses, Luck “E” Strike Lures, and Rick Clunn Signature Rods and Reels.
Kotaro Kiriyama is a native of Japan but spends half of his time in California competing in the Western Invitationals. He has only fished the BASS circuit for two years. He has earned a paycheck in six of the nine events he has fished and at 29, he is moving up in the ranks at an amazingly fast pace. Kotaro also used light 6 lb. line with zipper worms in either watermellon or chartreuse colors and he used a popper by Lake Police and jerkbaits in the main lake. He also used the drop-shot rig on a 6-inch leader. Kotaro’s sponsors are: Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Outbords, Restaffine Custom Rods, Zipper Worms, Shimano, Zappu, Varivas Line and Nogales Hooks.
“Winning the Classic is the dream of every bass fisherman in the world…and my dream came true today,” commented Woo Daves. And during the opening comments following the Classic, Woo went on to say,
“I have a son who is involved in fishing…He is a super fisherman and I’m really proud of him. Probably one of the most exciting days of my career, aside from winning this Classic, was when my son made the Classic. Now, with the help of all this money, I’ll be able to back my son and get him up here fishing with me. These young anglers come along and it takes four or five years of hard work on the tournament trail to make it, and it’s really hard to get sponsors. For some reason, a lot of company’s in this industry won’t take a chance on young anglers; and, these young fishermen really have to struggle for years to compete. These young fishermen look up to us as being old pros, but I look up to them to come out here and compete against the old pros and do the job that they do.
In my first Classic, in 1975, there was a high-school band and maybe three people who met us when we got off the airplane. There probably wasn’t 180 people at weigh-in and 150 of them were kin to me. BASS has come a long way since those days and taken the Classic to new levels. Back then, I was one of the youngest competitors, now I’m almost the oldest. It [the Classic] means a lot more to me now, because I’m no spring chicken, I’m 54 years old. One thing about it, an old guy can still catch fish!” – Lake Havasu
– Lake Havasu