It was just seven years ago that the Missouri angler won the coveted Classic, and he and his dad became the only father-and-son world champions in BASS history.
But the youngest Hibdon took a hiatus from the CITGO Bassmaster Tour at the end of the 2002 season to concentrate his efforts on a rival tournament trail. He’s back with BASS this season and excited to be fishing the premier trail.
“I’m tickled to death to be back, that’s for sure,” Hibdon said. “There have been a lot of changes – lots of new faces. There are a lot of young men in this deal. I used to be one of the young guys, and now I’m not. It’s kind of funky to see that.”
The eight-time Classic qualifier was asked what motivated his return to the BASS Tour.
“I’m 37 years old, and I was fishing six tournaments a year,” replied Hibdon, who has earned $456,228 in BASS prize money. “That’s silly. I need to be fishing more tournaments. I need to be covering more water.
“I’m still a young man. I need to be fishing instead of doing all those seminars. I was doing 40 and 50 seminars a year over the last three years, and I’m tired of doing that. I want to fish more.”
Entering this week’s Tour stop on Alabama’s famed Lake Guntersville, Hibdon is hoping to reverse a slow start in his comeback. He opened the season by zeroing on the first day of competition and ultimately finished 116th at the Kissimmee Chain. Then he placed 69th at the Harris Chain with 14 pounds, 14 ounces.
TRITON TRIP PLANNER. Located on the Triton Boats web site (www.tritonboats.com) is a very useful feature titled Fishing Trip Planner.
This feature provides everything an angler needs to plan a fishing trip. It includes moon phases; solunar tables; maps and driving directions; topographical maps; aerial maps; coastal electronic navigational charts; tide and current information; boating safety tips; nationwide fishing, water level generation and recreational information; and state fish and wildlife management contacts.
GREATEST ANGLER DEBATE. Nine-time BASS Angler of the Year and 19-time BASS winner Roland Martin is one of the 10 finalists of the ESPN Outdoors’ Greatest Angler Debate. Inside BASS asked him whom he would vote for as the best of the best:
“I’d vote for myself,” he said, “if you’re talking about the best of all-time. The other side of the coin is the question of who’s the best fisherman today. That’s a different question with a different answer. Kevin VanDam is the best fisherman right now, but not of all-time. Thirty years ago – when I was in my prime – I think I was as good as, if not better, than Kevin is now.
“It’s all relative. I’m going downhill. I can’t fish like I did when I was a kid. I can’t see as well. I can’t cast as good. I don’t have the reflexes that I had 30 years ago, so I’m not going to pretend that I’m as good a fisherman now. I’m just barely hanging in there, and I feel like retiring, but it’s still fun, and I enjoy the camaraderie.
“The Angler of the Year titles are my biggest accomplishment, but there are a lot of little things that I don’t get much credit for, such as the fact that I was BASS’ leading money winner for 14 years. There are other statistics that I don’t even talk about.”
From now through March, fishing fans will have the opportunity to cast their votes for the top angler on Bassmaster.com/vote. In April, Greatest Angler Debate programming will begin on ESPN2 as part of BASS Saturday. The programming will feature biographical shows on the top 10 anglers as well as debate programs featuring fans, the media and professional anglers. Fans will find stats and stories in the pages of Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times, Bassmaster.com and on the weekly ESPN Outdoors radio show. In June and July, the debate will heat up again as the fans choose between the top two anglers during a second round of voting on Bassmaster.com.
The debate will conclude in Pittsburgh — at the 2005 Classic — when two champions are crowned. One will be given the Classic trophy and the other will be hailed as the greatest angler of all time.
WEIRDEST CATCH. Believe it or not, Texas pro Zell Rowland once hooked a 150-pound wild hog while flipping. “It was down in the Mobile Delta,” he recalled. “I was flipping, and I heard a bunch of movement in behind the reeds, so I pitched my jig in there. It sort of took off moving, and when I stuck it, it started stripping drag and moving reeds. I had him on just long enough for him to strip off about 75 yards of line and break off at the knot.”
DID YOU KNOW? Most fishing fans know that the largest bass ever caught during the CITGO Bassmaster Classic was an eight-pound, nine-ounce beauty caught by Ricky Green in the 1976 world championship on Lake Guntersville, but did you know that the smallest fish ever to take daily big-bass honors in the Classic weighed 2 1/2 pounds and was caught by Georgia pro Roger Farmer on Day 3 of the 1983 Classic on the Ohio River in Cincinnati.
PRO BIRTHDAYS Missouri pro Stacey King will be 56 on Feb. 22nd. Florida’s Charlie Younger turns 53 three days later.
IF I HADN’T BECOME A BASS PRO… Veteran Texas pro Randy Dearman would likely be a full-time fishing and hunting guide specializing in gator hunting.
THEY SAID IT. “The sport has really gone through a lot of changes since ESPN purchased BASS. The money is a lot better than it was 10 years ago. The tournaments are getting bigger and bigger along with the exposure on TV. All you have to do is turn on your TV on Saturday morning to see the difference. BassCenter is unreal. I think it’s great for the folks who get to watch TV on Saturday mornings because it tells them what’s going on in the fishing world.” Larry Nixon, fishing’s Larry Legend, on the advancements of the sport that have been made with ESPN at the helm of BASS.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite 50 series, 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.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.