But will the streak continue at the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic on Lake Conroe, March 24-26 in Houston, Texas, giving a fourth angler the chance to keep the Classic trophy in home-state territory?
It seems possible considering the five winning anglers and Classic qualifiers from Texas: Keith Combs (Huntington), Todd Faircloth (Jasper), father-son duo Alton Jones and Alton Jones Jr. (both from Lorena) and Takahiro Omori (Emory).
Mathematically, the five home-state anglers among the field of 52 competitors should have less than a 10 percent chance of winning, but the stats say more.
Texas holds the most Classic berths by state/foreign country in the event’s history with 310.
Combs is in the sixth-place spot for B.A.S.S.’s Top 20 heaviest total weights and has finished in the money 54 times out of his 67 appearances. Omori won the 2004 Bassmaster Classic. Alton Jones Jr. qualified for the Classic and 2017 Elite Series after winning the 2016 Central Open on the Red River. Jones Sr. is the 2008 Classic champion. And, Faircloth has finished in the Top 10 seven of his 11 Classic appearances.
The five Texas anglers combined include 798 B.A.S.S. tournament appearances, 19 wins, more than $7.4 million in earnings, two previous Classic winners (Omori and Jones Sr.) and a priceless amount of home-state pride.
“I love Texas mostly because of the fishing,” Combs said. “We have every kind of fishery here. It’s a really great place to learn to bass fish and almost every lake has big fish potential.”
All five Texas anglers may be excited to fish in a Classic so close to home and could consider it an added advantage, but along with that, it brings added pressure.
“It would be special to win the Classic anytime,” said Faircloth, an 11-year veteran of the Elite Series. “But this Classic is significant for two reasons: It is in my home state and we haven’t had a Classic [solely] in Texas. This one is only two hours from my house, so you want to perform well.”
The 1979 Classic was held on the Texas/Oklahoma border on Lake Texoma.
“My family and friends will be there,” Faircloth said, “and that would make it that much more special to share it with them because they are a big reason that I am [fishing the Classic] in the first place.”
The last three Classics have made the records list: 2014 Classic winner Randy Howell earned a spot on the heaviest daily catch and heaviest tournament weight lists, 2015 put Casey Ashley in with the youngest champions of all time, and 2016 Classic winner Edwin Evers gained a spot in the record book for the heaviest daily catch and largest margin of victory.
In addition, all three Classics were noteworthy in that home-state anglers were victorious. Only one Classic prior to 2014 had a home-state winner.
The 2017 Bassmaster Classic is expected to be the largest in the 47-year history of the event.
Last year, the Classic had more than 102,000 in fans and 300 credentialed media in attendance. This year it’s up to the Texans to break that record. Texas is the leading state in B.A.S.S. membership with more than 45,000 members.
With Houston being the fourth largest city in the United States, comes larger venues and expectations.
Weigh-ins will be held daily in one of Major League Baseball’s Top 20 largest stadiums, the Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Park.
In conjunction, the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will be open daily only a block from Minute Maid Park at George R. Brown Convention Center’s 325,850-square-foot facility, the largest in Classic history.
However, fans that can’t make it to Houston can follow all of the action as the tournament leaders catch bass in real time on the exclusive Classic LIVE program on Bassmaster.com. Coverage will begin at takeoff each day of competition. Watch hosts Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona, along with newest host Davy Hite, as they provide analysis and live updates.