Bassmaster Fishing 2022

Bassmaster®: Stars of the 80s

The 1980s was a decade of big hair, big phones and big bass! With anglers in-game sporting our retro packs this month, we decided to look at Bassmaster's® biggest stars of the decade - the winners of each year's Classic - remembering the legends who've passed on and those who've remained competitive in more recent decades.

1980 - Villis Dowden

The 10th Anniversary of the Bassmaster Classic® saw 41 anglers compete around Thousand Islands on St Lawrence River, between New York State and Ontario, Canada. On top came Villis 'Bo' Dowden after three days of all-weather fishing and storms on day 3 threatening to upset the progress many had earned up to then. 54 lbs and 10 oz was enough for Bo Dowden to beat second man Roland Martin and clinch over $30,000 in the process.

1981 - Stanley Mitchell

80s Bassmaster threw up a record-breaking result in 1981 when Stanley Mitchell, from Georgia, became the youngest ever winner of the Classic at the age of 21. The event, staged on the Alabama River was a rollercoaster of highs and lows for Stanley who at one point didn't land a catch for 3 hours!

1982 - Paul Elias

'Great minds think alike' is the saying and at one point during the 1982 Bassmaster Classic, this was certainly the case. 1980 winner 'Bo' Dowden and eventual winner Paul Elias both set up in the same location, aiming to take advantage of a fruitful area of the Alabama River - hosting the event for the second year in a row.
Paul Elias in 2013. Photo by: Gary Tramontina

1983 - Larry Nixon

Fortune favored neither Paul, nor 'Bo' in 1983, when the Classic moved to the Ohio River, Cincinnati with both finishing outside the top 10 in 12th and 28th respectively. Instead, luck fell to Larry Nixon of Arkansas who would go on to become a multiple time B.A.S.S.® Champion with 260 event appearances over subsequent decades.

1984 - Rick Clunn

A number of Bassmaster® legends made notable appearances in the 1980s and Rick Clunn was just one of them, having previously won the Classic in '76 and '77. 1984's weigh-in was special to Rick for two reasons: one being that his total of 75 lbs 9 oz won him the event and over $40,000, but two for having guest appearances from two future US Presidents in George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Rick later won the Classic again in 1990, making him a 4-time Classic winner.
Rick Clunn at a 2014 Bassmaster® event. He won the St John's River Elite Series™ event in Florida in 2019 - over 40 years since his first Classic win. Photo by: B.A.S.S.® / Seigo Saito

1985 - Jack Chancellor

Jack Chancellor had become a major name in 1980s Bassmaster® events, entering every year from '81 to '87 except 1984. The year out must have been worth it however, as his first win came in 1985. Jack had come close earlier in the decade, coming 3rd in 1981 and runner-up in 1982, but the hard work paid off at Pine Bluff when he clinched the $50,000 winner's reward.

1986 - Charlie Reed

Each year there's always the chance that records are broken at a Classic and Charlie Reed of Oklahoma picked a good year to wow the crowd both at the event in Chattanooga, TN but also those watching on television as this was the first such event to be broadcast live! At the age of 51, Charlie became the oldest person at the time to win a Classic.

1987 - George Cochran

George Cochran's career is one of consistency and longevity having first competed in the 1981 Classic and most recently in 2006. In 21 Bassmaster Classic® entries, George has finished in the top 10 in more than half and memorably won both the 1987 and later the 1996 Classic. The '87 Classic was held at Ohio River at Louisville, KY better known perhaps for horse racing and the Kentucky Derby.
George Cochran at the 2006 Classic, where he ultimately finished 7th. Photo: B.A.S.S.®

1988 - Guido Hibdon

At Richmond, VA in 1988 a number of the decade's familiar names entered the penultimate Classic of the 1980s. The eventual winner, Guido Hibdon, had actually only taken place in two previous Classic events in 1980 and 1986 but managed to secure the top spot in 1988 with a total weight of 28 lbs and 8 oz. Just short of a decade later, his son Dion would go onto to etch the family name into Bassmaster® history by taking victory himself at the 1997 Classic and becoming the only father and son to put hands on a Classic trophy.

1989 - Hank Parker

The final Bassmaster Classic® of the 1980s remained on the James River at Richmond, VA. The televised coverage exemplified the drama, sounds and sights of the decade, with the fashions of the time well on display in the Virginia crowd. Guido Hibdon made a good attempt at the double, but ultimately finished 4th. Other 80s winners in Paul Elias, Stanley Mitchell, Rick Clunn, George Cochran, Charlie Reed and Larry Nixon all entered, vying for the final Classic victory of the decade. But it was Hank Parker, winner of the last event of the 70s, that mirrored his achievement ten years later by winning the 1989 title. 31 lbs and 6 oz narrowly beat Jim Bitter's total by just 2 oz, ensuring an exciting end to a fondly remembered time in Bassmaster® history.
Legends of Bassmaster® (including Rick Clunn 2nd from left, Hank Parker 3rd from left) at the 2020 Classic. Photo: Gary Tramontina
Take your own trip back to the 80s with the latest retro cosmetic packs for Bassmaster® Fishing 2022.
Bassmaster Fishing 2022
Bassmaster®: Stars of the 80s