“John Deere congratulates Rick Clunn, winner of ESPN's Greatest Anger Debate,” said Robert Nelson, promotions manager for the John Deere Worldwide Commercial & Consumer Equipment division. “Rick's dedication and determination to the sport has earned him the distinction of being bass fishing's greatest angler of all time. He is an inspiration to anglers around the world.”
Clunn, 59, is a four-time CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion, a 29-time Classic qualifier and has 14 career BASS wins to his name. He has caught 8,380 pounds, 1 ounce in his BASS career – more than any other angler in the top 10 – and has earned $1,655,144.50. He received more online votes from bass fans than any other angler in the competition.
“The people who made the finals all had the credentials to be the greatest angler,” said Clunn. “It’s a great accomplishment.”
The announcement was made before a packed media conference at the Marriott City Center in Pittsburgh, site of the 35th annual CITGO Bassmaster Classic, July 29 - 31.
“Rick Clunn is a pioneer in the sport of bass fishing and has proven his success through hard work and determination,” said Trip Weldon, BASS tournament director. “The fans have chosen a truly accomplished angler.”
The Greatest Angler Debate presented by John Deere began with a list of 35 top bass anglers. In January, a panel of outdoor writers pared down the list to the sport’s 10 best. Bass fans then cast more than 70,000 votes, putting the anglers in the following order:
10th Mark Davis, Mt. Ida, Ark.
9th Gary Klein, Weatherford, Texas
8th Jay Yelas, Tyler, Texas
7th Hank Parker, Denver, N.C.
6th Larry Nixon, Bee Branch, Ark.
5th Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich.
4th Denny Brauer, Camdenton, Mo.
3rd Bill Dance, Collierville, Tenn.
The top two favorites, Clunn and Roland Martin of Naples, Fla., then faced off in a second race for the top spot. Fans voted in June and July on Bassmaster.com for their greatest angler of all time.
“Rick Clunn is very deserving of this award,” said Martin. “This accomplishment honors lifelong achievement. Regardless of winning, it’s a great tribute to me personally to have been a part of it, and I am honored to have been selected.”
BASS general manager Don Rucks said both Clunn and Martin have been trailblazers in sport of bass fishing. “Rick and Roland are not only legends in our sport, they continuously set the bar high for performance and integrity.”
Clunn credits winning stand-alone events such as the Classic as his greatest angling achievements.
“What defines a person as great is the ability to not only perform consistently on the Tour but to have the ability to win major events,” said Clunn. “Winning major competitions is my biggest strength in fishing.”
Clunn received a trophy along with the admired distinction of being bass fishing’s greatest angler of all time. His title will be formerly recognized following his Day 1 weigh-in at the Mellon Arena on Friday.
“ESPN has done an outstanding job of defining our sport for people who aren’t familiar with it,” said Clunn. “I’m proud of the credibility it has established on what it takes to be a really great angler.”
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968. Coming in 2006 are an expanded Tour schedule to 11 events, three Majors tournaments and the Women’s Bassmaster Tour.
The 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic will receive unprecedented coverage on ESPN and ESPN2 this year. A total of 12 hours of programming will be devoted to Classic tournament coverage from July 29-31.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.