Bassmaster Classic: Hank Cherry leads end-to-end, white BBQ sauce, redeye bass, Outdoors Expo

Hank Cherry led all three days of the 50th Bassmaster Classic and won his first; add notes on redeye bass, white BBQ sauce and the Outdoors Expo.

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Confetti rains down on Hank Cherry after he won the 50th Bassmaster Classic Sunday in Birmingham.

Dale Bowman

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Hank Cherry paused in the middle of the press conference after winning the 50th Bassmaster Classic and said, “I’m mesmerized looking at the names on this trophy.’’

Cherry joined that exclusive group Sunday after weighing in 19 pounds, 8 ounces for a total of 65-5 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center. That weight outdistanced Todd Auten, of South Carolina, who brought in 20-10 on the final day for 58-10.

Cherry, of North Carolina, primarily fished the Brown Creek Causeway on Lake Guntersville with a custom-made crankbait based on the Speed Traps. He also caught fish with jerkbaits, jigs and Jack Hammers.

He started off losing one good bass Sunday, then quickly caught a limit and built his lead.

As Cherry came toward the stage, Auten, who was in the hot seat, touched the trophy and said, “I’ll touch it now, just in case I can’t later.’’

Auten fished Red Eye Shad crankbaits and Jack Hammers.

On the stage, before the confetti started raining down, Cherry said, “Everybody’s journey in life is different.”

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Champion Hank Cherry shows two of his bigger bass Sunday on the stage at the 50th Bassmaster Classic.

Dale Bowman

OUTDOORS EXPO: To give you an idea how packed the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo at the BJCC was Sunday morning, they had site staff at the bottom of escalators to limit the number of people moving to the next area. Think of it as a human red light at an entrance ramp to the Kennedy Expressway.

The best brush with fame was the crowd block caused by Shaw Grigsby in the Strike King booth across from Bill Dance in the Rebel booth. Of course, Dance had his Tennessee cap on. Think of it as a human traffic jam.

Mike Iaconelli drew a standing-room-only crowd to the fish trough at the Berkley booth. He gave one of his typical energetic performances, this time focused on nail weights. At one point, a big bass so vigorously chased his bait, while he was demonstrating, that he caught it. I think he just couldn’t help himself.

I heard northern Illinois’ own Chris Groh (Sugar Grove) announced at the Minn Kota booth.

I saw two Brandons, Palaniuk and Cobb (who did not make the Classic cut on Saturday), working booths.

An indication of what is hot is that Native Watercraft and Bonafide Kayaks has had a booth at the last three Classics. Best quote I heard came while I was in that booth when someone called boats, “Glitter Boxes.” They proudly pointed out that places 2-3-4-5 in the inaugural B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series were in Bonafides.

Old Town and Hobie were also there on the kayak side.

The best gimmick at the show were the white Plano buckets handed out to those entering the Expo. You could see those white buckets all around town outside of the BJCC.

REDEYE BASS, WHITE BBQ SAUCE: Sam Bennett contacted me Saturday morning and offered to take me for some early lunch. He suggested Miss Myra’s Pit Bar-B-Q in Cahaba Heights on the edge of Birmingham. If you haven’t figured out by now, I like to eat and I can pretty much eat barbecue every day.

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Sam Bennett, outside of Miss Myra’s Pit Bar-B-Q, pointed out the three chimneys that signal real pit barbecue.

Dale Bowman

I bumped into Bennett, of “The Worst Fishing Show Ever,” at Media Day on Thursday. He moved to Alabama from Illinois a couple years ago.

Driving with him was also a lesson in the iron mining years ago in Birmingham, Red Mountain and other tidbits about Birmingham and Alabama.

As we pulled into Miss Myra’s, he pointed to the three chimneys and said, “The sign of a real pit barbecue.” He said on some windy days the place fills up with BBQ smoke.

I had never thought of that sign of looking for the three stacks. Inside, I opted for pulled pork, baked beans and green beans, all good stuff. The interesting part was the pork came without sauce and you had the option of red (tomato-based) or white (mayonnaise-based) sauces.

I had only seen white BBQ sauce on the Food Network, but had never tried it. Glad I tried it, but my tastes lean more toward tomato- or molasses-based sauces. Miss Myra’s red sauce was wonderful. I did not have room for pie, nor did I want to lug some around to my room, but Good Lord did they have pies in the case; and their banana pudding is apparently well-known. I would have went for the pecan pie.

Our conversations veered all over life, history and the outdoors.

At one point, he said, “In Alabama, it’s football, religion and barbecue, in that order.”

He also mentioned redeye bass. I had not known about that fish, but the way Bennett described the streams fish, it sounded like my style of water and my kind of fishing. I think I need to come back and catch a few another time.

Plus there’s lots more BBQ places to try. Speaking of which, for help in the Alabama BBQ places, go to https://worstfishingshow.com/alabama-bbq-map/, the map of Alabama BBQ done by “The Worst Fishing Show.”

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A plate of pulled pork, baked beans and green beans at Miss Myra’s Pit Bar-B-Q.

Dale Bowman

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