When the Bassmaster Classic made its way to the Ohio River in 1987, everyone figured it would be tough, and the river held up its end of the bargain. The Times news writer Reeves Feild summed it up this way in an August column while covering the event; “For during this year’s Classic, the Ohio surpassed its already well-established reputation as one of the toughest fisheries in the United States. Or the crummiest if diplomacy is not your bag.”
He went on to write, “a lot of the great names in the sport were eliminated from competition quickly, with really just four guys having a shot at the win – George Cochran, Rick Clunn, Guy Eaker and Larry Nixon.”
Game plans by each were quickly established. Cochran stayed close all tournament, stating he likely ran his big engine for just 5 minutes during the entire 3 days. Clunn stayed close for the first two days, but when he found himself around 5 pounds down heading into the last day, made the long run down south that almost paid off when he landed the big bass of the event, a 4-pound 13-ounce fish that moved him up to second overall. Guy Eaker ran all three days, but a couple early missed fish on one of the days, including one estimated at four to five pounds, would ultimately kill his chances.
Our featured historical pic angler, Larry Nixon, was quoted in the article stating, “Here I am with a chance to win the biggest bass tournament ever and I ain’t got no fish.”
While he did have four fish in the well at the time, he lamented about not being able to pattern the fish the way he liked to, commenting; “Being able to read a depth finder and working some kind of offshore structure is what I do best. This is not my style of fishing. I’m not any better at it than anybody else here.”
Clunn summed up the overall event, saying, “It’s a little sad because of the poor catch. In football, most of us would prefer to see a score of 38 to 35. Some days, however, a couple of field goals and a safety will win it.”
As you all probably know, George Cochran went on to win the event with the lowest total ever recorded in a BASS Masters Classic – 15-05. That record would stand for nearly 20 years until the 2005 Classic where Kevin VanDam won, again on the Ohio, with 12-15.