The legwork catapulted the Palatka, Fla., Elite pro to his unprecedented four-day total weight, which was enough to win the tournament and the $100,000 top prize as well as shatter the BASS record for the heaviest four-day catch by more than 7 pounds.
Clark’s record-breaking day can be seen on The CITGO Bassmasters on ESPN2 Saturday, April 8, at 10 a.m. ET.
“I was thinking of bringing that edition on stage with me because it certainly contributed to this win,” said Clark, who captured his first BASS win on Sunday. “I am still new to the sport at this level and this win really cements my career for my sponsors, my family and me.”
Clark’s total demolished the BASS record for four-day heaviest catch – 108-12 set by Dean Rojas in 2001 on Florida’s Lake Tohopekaliga. It also cemented Clark’s status as one of the top sight-fishermen on the Elite circuit.
Clark used a push-pole to locate bedding fish, but then backed off so he wouldn’t spook the fish. He long-casted into lily pads and vegetation with a pumpkin-colored Zoom Big Critter Craw, a bait he used exclusively. With a ¼ ounce sinker, he targeted holes in lilies and dense vegetation for the big strikes.
The angler is in an enviable position, holding two of the most sought-after BASS records. In February, Clark recorded the largest fish ever caught in CITGO Bassmaster Classic competition, an 11-10 lunker that fell for the same craw he used at this tournament.
But the record was not Clark’s first concern. After all of his research and unwavering work, it was the healthy $100,000 check the angler most appreciated.
“I have a lot of additional responsibilities coming in the near future,” Clark said, referring to his wife, Katrina, who is pregnant with triplets and due in October. “We also recently decided to purchase a house, but a good deal of this money will go to college tuition.”
Often referred to as the “bridesmaid” because of his three consecutive second-place Bassmaster Classic finishes, Aaron Martens of Alabama sat in a familiar place in the standings Sunday. The 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year made a valiant charge – moving up from 10th place on Saturday – but it wasn’t enough and Martens landed in second with a total of 108-4. Martens started the tournament slow, but hit a sweet spot on the final day, catching 32-10.
“I found a really nice area at the very end,” Martens said, who just missed breaking the BASS four-day record by 8 ounces. “I am upset with myself that I didn’t go there earlier in the week; I think I left a few 30-pound bags in the water,” Martens said.
“I’m long overdue and one of these days I am going to win one of these.”
In what appeared to be a growing trend at BASS tournaments, weights were nearly unbelievable as six anglers pulled in more than 100 pounds, including third-place Californian Skeet Reese (108-0) and past BASS record-holder Rojas of Arizona (102-10).
Rounding out the Elite 12 were Alabama’s Steve Kennedy (104-2) in fourth; Texan and 2004 Santee Cooper winner Kelly Jordon (103-3); Rojas (102-10); Floridian Terry Scroggins (99-11); Kentucky’s Kevin Wirth (99-3); Virginia’s John Crews (96-3); Idaho’s Bink Desaro (94-0); Lone Star Shootout Elite Series event winner Greg Hackney (91-13); and Arkansas’ Mike Wurm (86-10).
Hackney’s 11th place finish and total weight of 91 pounds, 13 ounces on Santee Cooper was enough to propel him into the lead on the Bassmaster Elite Series Power Index over reigning leader Kevin VanDam. Hackney is now averaging 41 pounds, three ounces of bass per tournament and holds a slight seven-ounce advantage over VanDam going into the next Elite event at Lake Guntersville, April 20-23.
“My favorite lake used to be Clear Lake,” Reese said. “But I think it is time for a new favorite and Santee is it. Does anyone have any property for sale here?”
Local sponsors: Local sponsors include the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce.
CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series sponsors: Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Advanced Auto Parts and Theraseed®.
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.