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Hank Cherry, of Lincolnton, N.C., has won the 2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk with a three-day total of 50 pounds, 15 ounces.
The B.A.S.S. television fishing show, 'The Bassmasters,' will receive expanded airtime on ESPN networks. (PRNewsfoto/B.A.S.S. LLC)
FORT WORTH, Texas, June 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Hank Cherry now occupies some rare air in the sport of professional bass fishing, and he has the bank statements to prove it.Cherry earned another of the iconic Bassmaster Classic trophies and his second $300,000 check in 18 months.He is only the fourth angler in the 51-year history of the Super Bowl of Professional Bass Fishing to win the event in back-to-back years. He earned another of the iconic Classic trophies and his second $300,000 check in 18 months.Another North Carolina pro, Matt Arey, finished second with 49-1 and lost at least one big bass on Championship Sunday that might have put him over the top."I feel bad for Matt, and I told him I've been where he was," Cherry said. "I had the same thing happen to me and mine happened a lot closer to the boat.""I'm not giving it back — not apologizing for it. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be."Cherry, a nine-year veteran of the Bassmaster Elite Series, finished third in his first Classic back in 2013 on Grand Lake O' the Cherokees. Like Arey, he lost a crucial fish in that event that would have given him the trophy.He went through a tough stretch in the Classic after that, finishing no higher than 27th in three tries. But then he put the bad memories of 2013 behind him last year on Lake Guntersville when he caught 29-3 on the first day and rode that mammoth bag to a wire-to-wire victory.He didn't quite go wire-to-wire this year, starting in third place on the first day with a limit of 20-4. But as suffocating heat moved into the area, the fishing got tougher and Cherry remained consistent enough to stay on top with a Day 2 catch of 17-10 and a final-round bag of 13-1 that was just enough.He caught the bulk of his weight during the week flipping flooded bushes along the shoreline and throwing a jerkbait around riprap along the dam."The bite in the bushes is going away," Cherry said. "It's so hot out there right now. The water temperature was 71 degrees when we got here for practice, and I saw it as high as 87 today. A lot of those bushes are starting to break down, and those fish just don't want to be there.""I was fortunate to get enough out of them to win."For flipping the bushes, Cherry used a 3/4-ounce tungsten weight with a 4/0 flipping hook and a variety of soft-plastic baits, including a Berkley Pit Boss, a craw lure and a beaver-style bait."I would just alternate between five or six baits, back and forth," he said. "That probably wasn't as much for the fish as it was for me. Whatever I was using, I was doing the same thing. But it felt like I was doing something different."When the bass got extremely lethargic in the 99-degree heat Sunday, Cherry did actually make a change to his flipping setup, switching to a 1/4-ounce tungsten weight with a 3/0 hook. He had two fish in his livewell at the time but caught three bass to fill his limit within 30 minutes after making the switch."I caught maybe the dumbest bass in the lake," Cherry said. "I flipped into a bush and instead of going into the bush, that lighter bait kind of ricocheted off of it. The bass actually swam out of the bush to get the bait and swam back in with it."That fish weighed almost 4 1/2 pounds and helped Cherry recharge on a day when he said sweat was constantly rolling into his eyes and blinding him.When Cherry fished the rocks along the dam, he used a new jerkbait called a Berkley Stunna in the stealth shad color. He believes he caught the tail end of the jerkbait bite, just as he did with the flipping bite."The bushes I was fishing, if the lake was at normal pool, they wouldn't even be in the water," Cherry said. "So, you know the fish are probably itching to move away from there and go offshore."I think the same is true around those rocks. The heat is just radiating off those things — and if it makes us miserable, you know it probably makes them miserable, too."Cherry joins Rick Clunn (1976-77), Kevin VanDam (2010-11) and Jordan Lee (2017-18) as the only back-to-back Classic winners. This marks his fourth victory with B.A.S.S., including last year's Classic, an Opens win on Smith Lake in 2012 and an Elite Series victory on Muskegon and White Lakes in 2013. He was the 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Year.Cherry said he enjoyed his reign as the 2020 Classic champion even though the year was marred by the COVID-19 pandemic and many of the personal appearances he might have made as Classic champ didn't happen.Whether this next reign will be different, he couldn't say for sure."I don't know what to expect, I really don't," Cherry said. "I'll just take it as it comes — and I'll never doubt just how blessed I am."Frank Talley of Temple, Texas, took home Berkley Big Bass honors and an additional $2,500 for his 8-3 caught on Day 1. As part of the Yamaha Power Pay program, sixth-place finisher Scott Canterbury of Odenville, Ala., earned a $20,000 bonus.Cherry took home an additional $7,500 for being the highest-placing entrant in the Toyota Bonus Bucks program, and Chris Jones of Bokoshe, Okla., earned $2,500 for being the second-highest placing entrant.FinishNameHometownTotal lbs-ozEarnings1Hank CherryLincolnton, NC50-15$300,0002Matt AreyShelby, NC49-01$50,0003Chris JonesBokoshe, OK45-09$40,0004Justin KerrLake Havasu, AZ45-02$30,0005Brock MosleyCollinsville, MS42-00$25,0006Scott CanterburyOdenville, AL41-06$22,0007Matt RobertsonKuttawa, KY40-03$21,5008Chris Johnston Ontonabee, Ontario, Canada40-02$21,0009Drew CookCairo, GA38-07$20,50010Patrick WaltersSummerville, SC38-01$20,00011Cory Johnston Cavan, Ontario, Canada37-00$15,00012Ed Loughran IIIRichmond, VA36-07$15,00013Steve KennedyAuburn, AL35-08$15,00014Todd Auten Lake Wylie, SC34-04$15,00015Matt HerrenAshville, AL33-11$15,00016Kyle WelcherOpelika, AL33-03$13,00017Brandon Palaniuk Rathdrum, ID32-00$13,00018Jamie Hartman Newport, NY31-09$13,00019Cody Bird Granbury, TX29-15$14,00020Paul MuellerNaugatuck, CT29-02$13,00021Jeff GustafsonKeewatin Ontario Canada28-07$13,00022Frank TalleyTemple. TX27-13$15,50023Clark WendlandtLeader, TX27-12$13,00024Chad PipkensDewitt, MI27-02$13,00025Seth FeiderNew Market, MN26-09$13,00026Hunter ShryockOoltewah, TN20-13$10,00027Drew BentonBlakely, GA20-10$10,00028Luke PalmerCoalgate, OK20-10$10,00029Clent Davis Montevallo, AL20-00$10,00030Jordan WigginsCullman, AL19-13$10,00031Trevor McKinneyBenton, IL19-09$10,00032Brandon CobbGreenwood, SC19-00$10,00033John CoxDeBary, FL17-09$10,00034Bryan NewBelmont, NC17-02$10,00035Brandon LesterFayetteville, TN16-04$10,00036Chad MorgenthalerReeds Spring, MO15-14$10,00037Jason Williamson Wagener, SC15-01$10,00038Chris ZaldainFort Worth, TX15-00$10,00039Austin FelixEden Prairie, MN15-00$10,00040Brandon Card Salisbury, NC15-00$10,00041Taku ItoChiba, Japan14-10$10,00042Ray Masayuki Matsushita Tokoname-Shi Japan14-01$10,00043Bill LowenBrookville, IN13-15$10,00044Brad WhatleyBivins. TX13-12$10,00045Pat SchlapperEleva, WI13-10$10,00046Jake WhitakerFairview, NC13-05$10,00047David Mullins Mt Carmel. TN13-03$10,00048Stetson BlaylockBenton, AR12-13$10,00049Keith Carson DeBary, FL12-06$10,00050Tommy Williams Shepherdsville, KY11-14$10,00051Micah FrazierNewnan, GA11-11$10,00052Buddy GrossChickamauga, GA11-05$10,00053Shane LeHewCatawba, NC10-11$10,00054Blake SylvesterPlaquemine, LA6-04$10,0002021 Bassmaster Classic Title Sponsor: Academy Sports + Outdoors2021 Bassmaster Classic Presenting Sponsor: Huk Performance Fishing Apparel2021 Bassmaster Classic Platinum Sponsor: Toyota2021 Bassmaster Classic Premier Sponsors: Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Ranger Boats, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha2021 Bassmaster Classic Local Sponsors: Anderson Merchandisers, T-Mobile, TNT FireworksMedia Contact: Emily Harley, B.A.S.S. Communications Manager, 205-313-0945, [email protected] B.A.S.S.Recent Stories You Might Have Missed
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