Cliff Pace holds on for Bassmaster Classic Crown
In bass fishing's biggest event, labeled as the Super Bowl of bass fishing, Cliff Pace, Bassmaster Elite Series Pro from Petal, MS, looked like he was in position to blow away the Bassmaster Classic field at the end of the day two weigh-in. Back to back days of surpassing BassTrakks best estimations with over 21lbs each day gave him what seemed a quite comfortable 7lb margin over Brandon Palanuik who was in second place. It was strange watching Bassmaster.com coverage as closely as I did and see most of the fields weights be pretty close, but then be so off on Cliff Pace's BassTrakk weight every day. After watching footage, I lend it two things, Cliff is a pretty big guy, so 3lb bass might look like 2lbrs when he is holding them to some, but more likely, when he would catch a fish, he would yank them in the boat, unhook and stuff into the livewells in a blink of an eye. I don't think his Marshalls ever had a chance to really eye up these fish, then they probably asked him how big and he low balled them.
Cliff Pace 2013 Bassmaster Classic Champion!!!
Pace worked a two bait pattern all week, he would target deeper bottom hugging fish with a 3/4oz V&M Football Jig and then look for fish higher in the water column with a suspending jerkbait. The tough thing about his pattern, he was fishing for about 6-7 bites per day, but they were the right ones, as shown on day 2 when he had two 7lbrs. Some reports suggest his jerkbait of choice was a Jackall Squad Minnow, but Mark Zone reported that he fished a more traditional and larger Smithwick Rogue jerkbait rather then diminutive Squad Minnow. The Rogue actually makes more sense, as it is a well known producer on Grand Lake, and with the bigger fish keying on jumbo Gizzard Shad, the Rogues larger profile does a much better job of matching the forage for this event.
As far as the football jig itself, Pace trimmed a few strands from the weedguard to help with the deep water hook up ratio and he also dipped the ends of his V&M Twin Tail trailer with orange dye to help generate a few extra strikes in the dingy Grand Lake waters. And it was the jig that Pace utilized to catch his last two fish, giving him 4 fish for 11lbs that held off a hard charging Brandon Palaniuk and went on to win by about 3 pounds.
This Bassmaster Classic win solidifies Cliff Pace as one of the great up and coming bass pros and the $500,000 in his bank account should help him fish more comfortably for years to come! Even though he didn't show much for emotion when he won, I am sure Cliff is intensely satisfied and excited on the inside! Catch some videos of the moment here.
Even though I was pretty much glued to my laptop all weekend, it will still be cool to see the coverage next weekend on ESPN2 to see more of the fish catching footage from all 3 days.