February 15th, 2017
Rick Clunn Wins St. Johns Riverby Grant Pentiricci March 20, 2016
Rick Clunn Has Still Got It At 69! – Today was proof that age doesn’t matter when it comes to competitive bass fishing. Rick Clunn won the Bassmaster Elite Series event on St. Johns River in Florida with a 4-day total weight of 81-lbs-15-oz.
Before this event Rick, was already a legend. He has won 14 B.A.S.S. events and 4 Bassmaster Classic Championships (1976, 1977, 1984 and 1990), which incidentally ties him with another legend, Kevin Van Dam. Aside from his incredible record, he was also inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2001.
At the age of 69 many people his age are looking to retire, or are already retired, living the rest of their lives peacefully without stress; but not Rick Clunn. He is as competitive as ever and still a bass junky.
Rick said he used the same bait almost the whole time; a homemade bladed jig with a green skirt and a white Luck-E-Strike swimbait for a trailer. Rick calls the bait the “Trickster 2,” and he believed it would work after watching some local anglers fishing with live shiners earlier in the week.
“I actually watched shiner fishermen in Crescent Lake flipping shiners up under a dock, and they were catching fish,” Clunn said. “I saw that, and I tied on a big Luck-E-Strike swimbait. I flipped it up under a dock and caught about a 6-pounder. That got me on the shad-type baits.”
Much of the field was sight fishing for bedding bass around the fishery’s grass-covered shorelines. Rick Clunn, who is known to often go against the grain, chose a different approach. He used the bladed jig around the same type of cover in Lake George, enticing bites from fish he couldn’t see. The key to his magical day Saturday was an hour’s worth of wind and rain that he said seemed to make the fish bite better.
He fished his bait on 65-lbs braid with a 7′-6″ Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris CarbonLite rod; he didn’t hesitate to manhandle big bass when they bit his homemade lure.
“I put a little bit different hook on my bait and a different split ring, so it’s better suited for handling big fish,” Clunn said. “When you’re fishing for big fish, it’s important to use the right equipment. I was swinging 6-pounders in the boat this week.”
Rick was able to beat out Greg Hackney, who, at the end of Day 2, had the lead in the 4-day tournament. Rick was able to share the final day of the tournament weigh in with his son, River and wife, who flew in on Sunday to share the weigh-in stage and celebrate with Rick.
“I was certainly feeling some pressure after having such a big weight yesterday,” said Clunn, “Through the years, you just learn to hide it better. Having my son (River) here helped a lot.”
During his interview on the stage with Dave Mercer, Rick sent out a message to the crowd. He imparted some words of wisdom by saying,
“For all those who are around the same age as me, don’t ever believe that the best years of your life are behind you”.
The large influx of young anglers entering the sport of competitive bass fishing has made the veterans of the sport pause and wonder if they will fade away into obscurity. This most recent win by Rick Clunn has made it very clear that this is not the case.
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Grant is the Founder of AnglingAuthority.com. While he primarily fishes for large mouth and small mouth bass, he’s passionate about sport fishing in general and an avid multispecies angler. Learning about new tactics, gear, species and conditions is all part of what makes the sport challenging and enjoyable. Grant also loves to travel, particularly to prime fishing destinations. Grant participates in regional tournaments and is a proud pro staff member of State Apparel, Power-Pole and Gambler Lures. Grant is a member of B.A.S.S, Canadian Bass Anglers Federation and Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters.More by Grant Pentiricci