Legends Head to Bass Championship

By Mueller, Gene | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 25, 2001 | Go to article overview
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Legends Head to Bass Championship


Mueller, Gene, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Byline: Gene Mueller

Newspaper editors abhor a writer's use of the words "living legend" because they are sticklers for accuracy and they want us to think hard before bestowing such lofty status on anybody. As a matter of fact, a sports editor I worked for in the '70s was fond of telling staffers that the "living legend" thing was an oxymoron. "I prefer my legends to be dead," he said more than once.

Having gone through all this, can we be forgiven for giving the title to two aging and still breathing professional bass anglers who are about to compete in the world championship BASS Masters Classic that takes place next month in Louisiana?

Between them, they own four of the Classic championships that are sanctioned by the international Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, 10 BASS Angler of the Year titles, 32 tour victories and 51 BASS Classic appearances.

Better yet, Roland Martin, 61, and Rick Clunn, 55, are a force to be reckoned with even if one is within reach of getting Social Security checks and the latter already meets the age criterion for senior citizen discounts at Denny's.

In a sport that is dominated by young turks who are phenomenally skilled when it comes to "reading" hitherto unknown waters and finding their quarry, Clunn and Martin might not terrorize the hearts of fellow competitors, but only a fool would ignore their fish-catching potential.

Clunn's name and bass fishing's premier event have become synonymous over the years, which is understandable when you consider that the Missouri fishing phenom has qualified every year since turning pro in 1973 - winning the BASS Classic an unequaled four times. Clunn will compete for a record 28th time Aug. 2-4 on the Louisiana Delta.

"I don't think about not making it, to be honest," said the man who finished third in this year's BASS Angler of the Year race behind Arkansas' Mark Davis and Michigan's Kevin VanDam.

The oldest man in the Classic field, Martin - who comes from nearby Laurel and cut his fishing teeth in local reservoirs and the rivers of Maryland's Eastern Shore - already served notice that his competitive juices flow as strongly as ever. He won the point standings title in the Eastern Invitational division of the sanctioning BASS organization, which earned him a 23rd Classic invitation (second only to Clunn).

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