Bassmaster Classic: Put a Cherry on Cutdown Day and scoop some notes on food and culture
Day 2 of the 50th Bassmaster Classic was the cutdown to the top 25 and Hank Cherry stayed on top; and I delve into food and culture.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Hank Cherry held his lead spot on Day 2 of the 50th Bassmaster Classic at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. He outdistanced the field on Day 1 with 29 pounds, 3 ounces, then added to that on Saturday with 16-10, for a two-day total of 45-13.
After two days, the field is cut from 53 anglers to 25 for the final day on Sunday.
“I think the trophy is coming back to North Carolina,’’ Cherry said on the stage.
He accomplished what he needed to do, despite losing one good fish, probably 7 pounds, in the afternoon.
“They have to cooperate, but they are there,” Cherry said.
He mixed up bladed jigs, jigs, jerkbaits and occasionally crankbaits.
“At the end of the day, I truly believe I will bring the trophy home,” he said.
Brandon Lester of Tennessee is second with 41 pounds.
My favorite quote came from Minnesotan Seth Feider, who advanced (11th, 32-3). But when I asked if he had a pattern, he said, “I got no pattern. I got one hole and I’m beating the hell out of it.’’
Indiana’s Bill Lowen, who weighed 11-10 on Day 1, had 19-6 on Saturday for a two-day total of 31 pounds and was 14th.
“It would have been awesome to have that yesterday,” he said. “I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow.”
He found a pattern of jig-fishing with his Lowen’s Signature Flipping Jig from Lurepartsonline.com. He worked his jig from the docks out to the edge of the eelgrass. He had a series of docks that were holding big bass.
Canadian Jeff Gustafson caught the big bass of the day at 7 pounds, 3 ounces on a spinner bait, bit it was not enough for him to advance. Another Canadian, Cory Johnson, chugged a beer that was handed to him on the way to the stage, believed to be a Classic first. Quite a contingent of Canadian fans made the trip to Birmingham.
Pennsylvanian Grae Buck was the cutline at 24-13.
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Friday afternoon, I took the time to work through the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo at the BJCC. From a Chicago perspective, you probably have to be of a certain age to remember an outdoors show this sprawling and packed. There were thousands there on opening day. The streets/parking lots for many blocks around the BJCC were a zoo Friday.
And the expo was star-studded. Just in my quick trip through the show, I saw such luminaries as Hank Parker, Gerald Swindle, Denny Brauer and Ish Monroe or heard them announced.
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As I led with in Saturday’s column on the 50th Bassmaster Classic (click here to read that column), I hit the Huddle House in Guntersville after takeoff on Day 1 on Friday for breakfast. It was jammed. I ended up squeezing in at the regular table of the “South End Mafia.”
One of the regulars, realtor Steve Carver, was there. He’s a hard-core bass fisherman and we had quite the chat about Guntersville and largemouth bass to 11 pounds. Apparently, I should fish that sometime for bass. We were joined by Ted, a retiree from Downstate Illinois outside of Pocahontas. Ted did some crappie guiding for a while on Guntersville. We chatted a bit about the advantages and disadvantages of being in Alabama rather than Illinois.
Huddle House, for those who don’t travel in the South much, is a chain primarily in the Southeast that I think is best for breakfast. I went whole-hog, literally. I ordered biscuits with sausage patties and eggs, then it is topped with sausage gravy and finally with cheese. The waitress asked if I wanted jalapenos, but I said no. It was stick to your ribs food I needed after an hour of standing on the slopping pier in the gusting winds.
I remembered to take a food photo a few bites in.
I bumped into Sam Bennett, of “The Worst Fishing Show Ever,” at Media Day on Thursday. He moved to Alabama from Illinois a couple years ago. The show is actually more about barbeque more than fishing. Go to https://worstfishingshow.com/alabama-bbq-map/ to a map of Alabama barbeque.
In a pinch late Friday night (when finding open BBQ joints can be tough), I texted him for a recommendation and he replied to try Saw’s Juke Joint.
I made it with less than an hour remaining for food service and had takeout of half a pound of pulled pork with a vinegar-based sauce (not my sauce style of choice, but I go with whatever is going where I am) and pints of greens (just tremendous) and potato salad. My brain was so fried after 16 straight hours of working that I missed ordering cheesy grits instead of potato salad. Next time. Yes, I put a serious dent in the food, but I have enough for another meal.
(By the way, if you are grown-up, single and in Alabama, I would suggest going there. Put it this way, if I was single and lived nearby, I would be there regularly. The place was Friday-night packed and the vibe felt right.)
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Saturday morning, I decided to culture myself and stopped by the free Birmingham Museum of Art, a block or so from the hotel and the BJCC.
It’s a real art museum. My hour was not nearly enough.
I particularly liked a pair of artworks—“ `63 Foot Soldiers” by Joe Minter and “School of Beauty, School of Culture” by Kerry James Marshall—near the entrance. Those two are posted below. Both have lots of little things that are worth studying and discovering.
More things to study and discover coming tomorrow after the Classic champion is crowned.