Roland Martin and Bo Dowden are hooked up to the $100,000 purse at the 11th BASS Masters Classic on lake Montgomery, Alabama. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

In the last part of the 1981 Bassmaster Trail we talked about the BASS Champs Fish-Off event and who had qualified from the East, West and AOY divisions.  Today in 1981 Bass Masters Classic Contenders, we’re going to look at all of the contenders, including those who qualified through the Chapter Fish-offs.

As reported last time, the Classic Qualifications for the 1981 Trail were confusing at best.  In the end, 42 anglers qualified for the event with five coming from the Chapter Federation ranks, a record high that would continue through today.

We’ll be presenting the list of anglers in the order they finished in the overall Angler of the Year Race.  Each of their bios came from the 1981 BASS Classic Report, which was published after the Classic was held.

Due to the format of the Trail, there were 14 anglers who qualified for their first Classic through the Divisional ranks, or half the available spots from the Divisions.  This is what Ray Scott and team had hoped for.  Open up Classic berths to more weekend pros.

On the flipside, there were also several multi-Classic qualifiers.  Here’s a list of the anglers based on how many Classics they’d qualified for.

10-time Qualifier:  Roland Martin, Ricky Green

9-time Qualifier:  Bobby Murray

8-time Qualifier:  Rick Clunn

7-time Qualifier:  Tommy Martin, Bo Dowden

6-time Qualifier:  Bill Ward

5-time Qualifier:  Larry Nixon, Jimmy Houston, Greg Ward,

4-time Qualifier:  Basil Bacon, Harold Allen, Hank Parker

3-time Qualifier:  Jon Hall, Jerry Rhyne,

2-time Qualifier:  Gary Klein, Guy Eaker, Ron Shearer, Jack Westberry, Kenneth Walker, Paul Elias, Tommy Chapman, Jack Chancellor,

Rookie:  John Torian, Don Rank, George Cochran, Randy Behringer, Ray Meredith, Ken Cook, Neal Parker, Larry Williams, Stanley Mitchell, Scott Pope, Bruce Cunagin, Johnny Adams, Larry Wright, Linwood Thornhill, John Talley, Robert Moyer, Paul Converse, Blake Honeycutt, Renaud Pelletier

Another interesting statistic that is seen from this data is Bill and Greg Ward, father and son, were fishing their 5th Classic together.  This record wouldn’t be tied until 1995 when Guido and Dion Hibdon qualified for their 5th Classic together.  It’s a record that hasn’t been challenged since.

Another statistic noteworthy is Ricky Green had qualified for his 10th straight Classic, the record at the time.  Other anglers on consecutive Classic qualification rolls were Rick Clunn (8), Bo Dowden (7), Bobby Murray (5), Roland Martin (5), Larry Nixon (5), Hank Parker (4), Tommy Martin (4), Jimmy Houston, (3), Basil Bacon, (3), Bill Ward (2), and Jon Hall (2).

The average age of the Classic Qualifiers from the pro ranks was 34.5 years old (6.6-year standard deviation) with Stanley Mitchell the youngest at 21 years old.  Although this seems young, Greg Ward still holds the record for the youngest angler to qualify for the Classic at 18 years, 11 months, 6 days.

Other anglers who qualified this year that were in their 20s were Gary Klein, Hank Parker, Ron Shearer, John Torian, Greg Ward, Ray Meredith, Scott Pope, Larry Wright, and Robert Moyer.

Another aspect of this year was the torrent of anglers that qualified from Texas.  This group, made up of Larry Nixon, Tommy Martin, John Torian, Harold Allen, Rick Clunn, and Zell Rowland, would become known as The Hemphill Gang and would dominate the tournament circuits for decades to come.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any information on the Chapter (Federation) Divisionals other than what was in the BASS Classic Report.  The small write-up that was placed in this magazine will be between the final pro qualifier and the start of the Federation Qualifiers.

I think that’s all I have right now.  Since the bios from Bassmaster Magazine were so complete, we’re not going to add anything.  If there is something that should have been covered, please let us know in the comments below.


Roland Martin


Bo Dowden


Guy Eaker


Larry Nixon


Rick Clunn


Gary Klein


Hank Parker


Ricky Green


Harold Allen


Basil Bacon


Tommy Martin


Bobby Murray


Paul Elias


Bill Ward


Jimmy Houston


Jon Hall


Jerry Rhyne


Kenneth Walker


Ron Shearer


Tommy Chapman


John Torian


Don Rank


George Cochran


Jack Chancellor


Randy Behringer


Greg Ward


Ray Meredith


Ken Cook


Neal Parker


Jack Westberry


Larry Williams


Stanley Mitchell


Scott Pope


Bruce Cunagin


Johnny Adams


Larry Wright


Linwood Thornhill


Now for the Chapter (Federation write-up that was in the 1981 BASS Classic Report.

This was the only 1981 Chapter (Federation) write-up we could find. If any of you know of something else, please contact us in the comments below. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.


Renaud Pelletier


John Talley


Paul Converse


Blake Honeycutt


Robert Moyer


The final part in this series will go over the 1981 BASS Master Classic.  To read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, click on the links.