Original Caption: With off-the-wall antics that keep a tournament crowd laughing and a manner that informs while it amuses, Fish Fishburne lives up to the nickname 'the clown prince of bass fishing. The Palm Beach Post, October 2003, photo credit: ESPN Outdoors

Today’s Friday Finale historical photo takes us back 20 years and features a then 38-year-old angler/emcee named Fish Fishburne.  The article starts out, “He’s zany, entertaining and quick to share tidbits from the lives of professional bass anglers – a combination that couldn’t be better for a man who routinely greets hundreds of tired fishermen as they weigh bass on stage and tell live audiences about their day on the water.”

Known as much for his ‘Team Grandma’ sponsorship, he had also competed for years on the Bassmaster tournament trail, as well as hosted his own fishing show Go Fish! in 1996-97.  Over the course of 108 tournaments, he cashed 34 checks totaling $285,764, according to the story.  There were a lot of quotes from people talking about his various abilities at the hosting job, something he had taken on after his tournament career came to an end.  But a few deeper dives at the end of the story were the most interesting. A few are excerpted below:

  • A fitting name: Claude Fishburne became known as “Fish” in grade school and has been called that ever since. Most bass fans don’t know his legal name. “I signed Fish on my driver’s license,” he said. “That confuses them at the airport.”
  • Fish on stage: B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott, who dubbed Fishburne ‘the clown prince of bass fishing,’ used to let Fishburne take the microphone and wear his cowboy hat when he needed a break.
  • Fish on fishing: “Fishing is a universal language. In any crowd, you will know someone that fishes or they will know somebody that fishes.”
  • Fish on fishing for a living: “It’s gambling,” he said. “The guilt starts getting to you.”