Keeping with the theme of Federation anglers that qualified for the Classic, today’s historical photo dates back to early 1997 and features Dalton Bobo, a Federation angler who won the Wrangler/BASS tournament in May of that same year, to qualify for that year’s Classic that would be held later in August. In the story written by Robert Wallace, “Showmanship keeps spectators in suspense,” he detailed the final moments as Dalton came to the scales and secured his place in history.
“Hirsch Coliseum fell into silence as Alabama’s Dalton Bobo reached into his boat’s fish tank Saturday afternoon.
“The 4,000 fans were anxious. The sight of slimy 4- and 5-pound bass had ignited cheers from these fans the previous two hours. And now, the 1997 Wrangler/BASS amateur national championship was at stake.
“Cheers erupted as Bobo unveiled his biggest bass, icing his tournament win and a trip to the BASS Master Classic to compete against the world’s top professional anglers in August.”
Bobo would go on to fish his first and only Classic on Lake Logan Martin. Bobo resigned from his job at a textile mill in order to fish the Classic because he’d used up all his vacation fishing the Federation Qualifiers.
Bobo was an unknown entity going into the Classic but started out the event in 7th place with a limit that went 10-10. The second day he brought in another limit, this time it weighed 9-15, but he had a dead fish, which brought his total down to 9-11. For the two days, his total was 21-11 and he sat in the fifth spot.
The final-day weigh-in was dramatic. Classic leaders Ron Shuffield, Stephen Browning, and David Fritts had off days. Bobo was able to rally and brought in a limit for 13-01, which gave him a 34-12 total and the lead. But Dion Hibdon, who had been in fourth place going into the final day, brought in a limit for 11-12, bringing his three-day total to 34-13, beating Bobo by one ounce.