Angler catches ‘dumbest bass in lake’ to repeat as Classic champ

·2 min read

Hank Cherry of North Carolina became the fourth fisherman in the 51-year history of the Bassmaster Classic to repeat as champion, and he did so in large part by catching what he referred to as “maybe the dumbest bass in the lake.”

Cherry caught five bass weighing 13 pounds, 1 ounce on the third and final day of competition Sunday for a total of 50 pounds, 15 ounces, which edged out fellow North Carolina pro Matt Arey by less than 2 pounds. Arey, who lost at least one big bass on Day 3 that could have won it for him, finished with 49 pounds, 1 ounce.

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The bass that put Cherry over the top was the near 4½-pounder he caught after changing up his flipping-the-bushes strategy by going with a lighter bait in the 99-degree heat on Ray Roberts Lake located north of Dallas.

“I caught maybe the dumbest bass in the lake,” Cherry told Bassmaster.com. “I flipped into a bush and instead of going into the bush, that lighter bait kind of ricocheted off of it. The bass actually swam out of the bush to get the bait and swam back in with it.”

From Bassmaster.com:

That fish … helped Cherry recharge on a day when he said sweat was constantly rolling into his eyes and blinding him.

When Cherry fished the rocks along the dam, he used a new jerkbait called a Berkley Stunna in the stealth shad color. He believes he caught the tail end of the jerkbait bite, just as he did with the flipping bite.

“The bushes I was fishing, if the lake was at normal pool, they wouldn’t even be in the water,” Cherry said. “So, you know the fish are probably itching to move away from there and go offshore.

“I think the same is true around those rocks. The heat is just radiating off those things — and if it makes us miserable, you know it probably makes them miserable, too.”

The victory in what has long been known as the Super Bowl of bass fishing earned Cherry his second $300,000 check in 18 months, and put him in elite company.

Rick Clunn (1976-77), Kevin VanDam (2010-11) and Jordan Lee (2017-18) were the other back-to-back winners of the Bassmaster Classic.

This was the fourth tournament victory with B.A.S.S. for Cherry, a nine-year veteran of the Bassmaster Elite Series.

Photos courtesy of Bassmaster.com.