Luke Clausen's hometown is listed as Spokane Valley, Wash., but the 27-year-old sold his house there last fall. Why does that matter? He just became one of the richest vagabonds in history.

On day 3 of the Bassmaster Classic, the wind howled across Lake Toho with all the fury a Florida cold can deliver. The temperature dropped, the weights plummeted, but Clausen rode the strength of his day 1 super-sack and fought off hard-charging Rick Morris to win the Classic (and $500,000) by a 5-pound margin.

Along with his FLW Tour Championship (FLWTC) victory in 2004, he's won $1 million in 18 months.

Some at this year's Classic surged one day only to fall the next. Others were consistent. But Clausen caught them every day. He never topped his 29-06 day-1 bag, but he never fell from the lead spot either (as Jay Yelas did in 2002). He led all 3 days and his victory left no doubt – he's a rising power in the sport.

He was the youngest angler in the 51-man field and his 56-02 total also broke the record for heaviest winning weight in the five-fish-limit era. Davy Hite set the old mark of 55-10 in 1999 at the Louisiana Delta.

Morris, a 44-year-old who was fishing his first Classic in 8 years, caught the second-biggest bag today (13-11), but it wasn't nearly enough.

Veteran Ron Shuffield missed his second chance at a Classic victory in what was likely his final appearance when he boated just three of 13 bites for a 7-15 bag that left him in 3rd with 47-14.

Hometown favorite Terry Scroggins had to abandon the group of big fish he found on day 2 due to the weather and caught only 7-11 to finish 4th with 46-15. Defending champion Kevin VanDam, the No. 1 ranked angler in the world, whacked the day's best sack (15-07). He moved up seven spots to finish 5th with 44-08.

Here's the bottom half of the top 10:

6. Preston Clark: 44-04
7. George Cochran: 43-10
8. Kevin Wirth: 42-00
9. Jimmy Johnson: 41-14
10. Larry Nixon: 39-13

The biggest story today was weather. It hurt almost everybody, and killed more than a few. But Clausen proved that a strong pattern, in a strong area, can overcome almost any weather wrench.

Clausen in Disbelief

Immediately after the weigh-in, Clausen said he felt surreal. "It still hasn't sunk in. It's like I'm in the middle of a dream. I'm in total disbelief."

His explanation for why he won the tournament was pretty simple – he was on the best fish. He found an area in the southern part of Kissimmee (one of four lakes in the Kissimmee Chain that anglers could choose from) during the pre-practice period, and it turned red-hot the day before the tournament began.

"I think I just had the strongest area on the lake, and I understood how to fish it pretty well," he said. "And my pattern got stronger during the warm period between pre-practice (a week earlier) and the start of the tournament. More fish got on the beds, and it made it even more viable."

A drastic change in the weather was the main factor today.

He relied on one bait for the entire 3 days – a Mann's HardNose Worm (junebug). He caught a 5-13 on his first cast today, and a small keeper on the second, then got two more about 20 minutes later. He caught his final fish of the day on Toho with a spinnerbait.

"All day I was thinking that I didn't have enough," he said. "I thought I had a chance, but I didn't think it was a very good one."

This victory differed from his FLWTC win because he began this morning trying to protect a lead. In the FLWTC, he was one of 12 anglers who started the final day at zero weight.

He said the pressure of being the frontrunner never affected him. "I never got nervous until the weigh-in. Once there was nothing else I could do to change anything, that's when I started to worry."

He might not have much time to enjoy the victory – as of tonight, he still planned to fish the Pickwick FLW Tour event that starts Wednesday. He won't get much practice time since it's unlikely that he'll be able to start driving toward Alabama before Tuesday. "I think I'm going to be pretty busy tomorrow," he noted.

Details of his winning pattern, and patterns of the other top finishers, will be up soon.

No Automatic '07 Berth

Clausen will not be able to fish the 2006 Bassmaster Elite Series, and does not have an automatic berth in the 2007 Classic. Here's why.

The registration deadline has passed for the 2006 Elite Series, and he chose not to register. BassFan asked BASS whether it would make an exception for Clausen if he wished to fish the Series. A BASS official said: "No, registration has passed."

And traditionally, the Bassmaster Classic included an exemption slot for the previous year's champion. In other words, if you won a Classic, you received an automatic berth in the next one.

When BASS originally announced its Elite Series and revamped Majors format in August 2005, the fact sheet included a Classic-winner exemption. However, at some point afterward, that exemption was supposedly dropped.

No exemption, no automatic Classic for Clausen.

However, it's not clear at this point whether Clausen (or any of the competitors) noticed the change. That's likely a moot point anyway, as the official BASS rules for the event state: "These rules may be changed by BASS immediately upon notice by BASS to its members, which notice may be published on the BASS Internet site...." And a revised participation agreement was posted on BASS's site.

Clausen was unavailable for further comment on this issue.

Rick Morris fished a protected canal, but couldn't overcome Clausen's day 1 sack.

2nd: Morris' Near Miss

Morris had hoped to make the Classic the first tour-level victory of his career, a la Mark Davis in 1995.

"That would have been awesome," he said. "'I've fished the Bassmaster trail for 14 years and I've made quite a bit of money and had some high finishes, and I was really kind of hoping to make this my first win."

He qualified for the Classic with a runner-up finish at the Bassmaster Open Championship last fall. "I was 2nd at the Open to get here and 2nd here, so it seems that I've been finishing 2nd quite a bit recently. But you know what? You've got to be 2nd before you can be 1st."

He had a canal in the Kissimmee River all to himself throughout the tournament and put together three solid bags – 18-07, 18-14 and 13-11. His climb up the standings was steady – 12th on day 1 and 5th on day 2. He came up one place short of where he wanted to be on the final day.

3rd: Shuffield Dumped Them

Ron Shuffield lost the winning fish on the final day of the 1997 Classic. And he said he lost the winning fish again today.

"I had 13 bites and only landed three fish," he said. "It was horrible. I had a 6 1/2 at the side of the boat. I tried to lip her and she came off. I jumped off a 4-pounder, and another in the 4-pound range pulled off. I lost a multitude of fish.

"An 18-pound sack would have been a cinch if I landed them. It was a bad day – poor execution."

He said yesterday that he'd concentrate totally on execution today. "I did concentrate. I did nothing except what I said. It was my Classic to win."

He summed up what others have said many times about winning. "When it's (really) your turn to win, there's nothing you can do to keep it from happening. If it's not your turn, there's nothing you can do to make it happen."

Ron Shuffield lost a lot of fish and said it wasn't his time to win.

He was fishing topwater frogs. "It was different. The first 2 days, the fish would blast the frog and pull it down, and I'd stick them. The difference today was they'd blast the toad and pull it down, I'd set the hook and they'd come off. All three I caught were just barely hooked. It's unexplainable."

At the post-Classic press conference, he was asked about this being his last Classic (he's fishing only the FLW Series this season). He fought back tears and didn't speak for a while, then wiped a tear from his eye before speaking.

Afterwards he told BassFan, "It's hard to walk away. I was with BASS for 20 years. I have so many good memories. My entire career has grown with BASS."

> As soon as the Classic ended, he announced a near-complete change of sponsorships to better align with FLW Outdoors. New sponsors include: Ranger, Yamaha, Minn Kota, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Fenwick, Smith optics and Lowrance.

4th: Scroggins Laments Day 1

Scroggins caught just 7-11 today, but said the 10-14 bag he weighed in on day 1 that put him nearly 19 pounds in arrears to Clausen hurt him much more.

"I know I lost this tournament on day 1," he said. "I made some wrong decisions that cost me some time and left me in a big hole."

He lives in nearby Palatka, Fla. and won the Bassmaster Southern Open on Toho last fall, but said he didn't consider himself a favorite. "These are 50 of the best fishermen in the world, so there really are no favorites. Anybody (in the field) could have won this thing."

He caught his 28-06 sack on day 2 on the outside edge of a padline in Kissimmee, but found that spot too muddy to fish when he arrived this morning. "I had to move to the inside of the padline to find some clear water," he said. "I got plenty of bites, but the fish were just a lot smaller."

5th: VanDam Disappointed

VanDam, who won last summer's Classic in Pittsburgh, was in pursuit of a fourth consecutive BASS victory (he won two Bassmaster Elite 50s prior to the 2005 Classic). He made it clear that he badly wanted that distinction.

"I'm pretty disappointed right now," he said. "I felt really good coming in and I was real proud of the adjustments I made during the tournament. I didn't lose – I got beat (by Clausen). I got beat bad."

Like Morris, he got better as the tournament progressed. He was 25th on day 1 and 12th on day 2. and his 15-07 bag was the best of day 3 by 1 1/2 pounds.

6th: Clark Happy

Preston Clark came out strong – he was 2nd after day 1 – but he ran out of sight-fish fuel. Today he changed up and started blind-fishing for bed-fish in pads (in Kissimmee again, though he did venture into Toho too), but it wasn't enough.

He weighed 5-01 and finished 6th. But he did carry home a new record: the heaviest fish caught in a Classic (11-10).

"I'm happy," he said. "I'm excited. I'm in the record book. You have to get excited about that. It's my highest Classic finish.

"I got a good showing. And I'm going to the Busch Shootout. The only thing that could have been any better was if I'd won.

"I fished as hard as I could. I only missed one opportunity – one fish. I had a 3-pounder on. I couldn't get to him before he got off. Other than that, everything that hit me I put in the livewell."

7th: No Regrets for Cochran

Two-time Classic winner George Cochran is another angler who won't fish the Elite Series this year, and his 21st appearance in the event might have been his last.

"I knew this would probably be it, but you never say never with the way the fishing industry is nowadays," he said. "I have some mixed feelings because I spent 25 years fishing BASS and they were real good years, all of them. But now I'm going in a different direction and I'm real excited about that too."

He caught one over 5 pounds early this morning and briefly had visions of a monster sack that would push him all the way to the top. "I said, 'Okay, here I go.' But about that time the 30 mph winds started and just trashed my whole stretch."

8th: Wirth Pleased

Kevin Wirth wormed on Kissimmee. He ended day 1 in 4th, slipped to 6th and with 6-07 today finished 8th with 42-00 total.

"I'm just really ecstatic I could get myself in the position to have a chance to win," he said. "And I did everything I was supposed to do to win."

That included a change today. "I deserted the area I was catching them in. I knew I couldn't win there. Luke (Clausen) was in the same area, but I knew I couldn't win there. I gambled and went and fished the same pattern, but fished a lot of stuff to give me the opportunity to bust a real big sack. It just didn't pan out.

"I'm real pleased," he added. "I can't complain. Anytime you give yourself an opportunity to win, and can go out and do what I did – I'm just really pleased with my performance."

9th: Johnson Looks Ahead

Jimmy Johnson, a Federation qualifier from Wisconsin, said he'd hoped to finish a little higher than he did.

"I set a goal for myself of making the Top 5 in this event," he said. "I really have a passion for this sport and someday I want to do this for a living. This was a partial step, so we'll see where this takes me now."

Right now he's working as a laboratory research technician, and said: "I'm always looking for the right time to quit work. But this might not be quite the right time."

10th: Nixon Not Proud

Larry Nixon fished Toho and caught 10-06 today, which gave him 39-13 total, good enough for 10th.

"I'm not too awful proud of it," he said. "I wanted to do better. I really wanted to win this Classic. I fished good, so I'm not disappointed in myself. It's just not where I wanted to be."

His first-ever Classic was at Toho in 1997, and this could be his last. Like Shuffield, he's fishing FLW Outdoors events this season.

"It's ironic," he said of his first and last Classic. "I hoped the stars would line up. At that first Classic I finished 2nd and should have won – I had one of those freak things happen. I thought, 'We're going back to Toho,' I thought maybe it would be my turn again. It didn't work out that way."

About leaving BASS, he said he's neither sad nor happy. "I'm not either way on it to be honest with you. I'm just at ease with my decision. I'm going to enjoy this year. But I'm going to miss a whole lot of guys."

To his fans who've watched him fish BASS for so many years, he said: "Just keep up with the FLW Tour and keep watching over there. I'll still be out there, and hopefully teaching them, if BASS allows me to do Bassmaster Universities. I'll be around. Don't worry about it."

12th: Rojas' Record Lives

Dean Rojas wasn't thrilled with his performance, but he admitted to a bit of relief that his 1-day and 4-day weight records – set here 5 years ago – weren't broken.

"I'm still a world-record holder, and I can't wait to come back again," he said. "But this just shows you how special of a week that was. That tournament was one of a kind and other tournaments will always be modeled after it. So many guys had the biggest catches of their career that it was just phenomenal."

He caught 11-11 today and finished with 38-00.

14th: Biffle Couldn't Get Big Ones

Tommy Biffle caught a 10-09 sack today and finished with a 36-12 total.

"I'm disappointed that I didn't do better," he said. "I think I might have been throwing the right baits (frog-type lures), but maybe not in the key areas. I kept thinking I was going to get a big bite all week, and I never did."

15th: Monroe Practical

Ish Monroe, who was up there on day 1, took a pragmatic view of his finish. "We fish for a living," he said. "You make the cut, you get in the Top 25 and you walk away with at least $12,000. There's something to be said for that."

He said he would have pursued a big sack today if the weather had been nicer. But the rainy, windy conditions took a monster stringer out of the equation. "I just went to a little spot that I knew was protected and where I knew I could catch a limit. But there were no big ones to be caught."

He finished with a 10-07 limit and 36-10 total. He did have one big bite, but he wasn't sure it was a bass. "I caught a lot of mudfish (bowfin) today."

16th: Hite Sought 1st

Davy Hite's 8-01 sack today brought his 3-day total to 36-06.

"You don't feel good about anything but 1st," he said. "After having that 1 day of (official) practice, I thought I had a chance to win the thing. Then after the first day, being in 6th or 7th place, I definitely thought I had a chance to keep catching them.

"But it didn't work out that way. That's the way it goes."

17th: Martens Okay With It

Three-time Classic runner-up Aaron Martens was never in serious contention here, but he wasn't too disappointed. His 8-06 bag on day 3 gave him a 24-13 total.

"It happens," he said. "We all go through it. It's not like Pittsburgh, where I messed up and lost fish. I just never got on anything."

He said he would have fared better had the weather remained mild. "I thought my best chance was sight-fishing, and that would've been a lot better if it had stayed warm and sunny."

18th: Tucker Learned Something

Mark Tucker wasn't thrilled with his finish, but said the tournament was educational.

"I should have made the Top 6 easy," he said. "But the more I come here and fish in Florida, the more I learn. I learned a substantial amount on this trip and it gives me confidence for next time."

He caught a 7-07 bag on day 3 for a 34-12 total. "I just couldn't expand on anything. I ran around a lot, but I never knew what to expect when I got there."

19th: Downer For Kriet

Jeff Kriet's finish was far below his expectations. "With the practice I had, I expected to be in the Top 5," he said. "I really thought I was going to have an opportunity to win. I practiced exceptionally well.

He was limited to four fish for 5-08 on day 3. That left him with a 34-00 total.

"Today was just survival. But it could've been worse – I could've been down working the show instead of fishing."

19th: Hackney Disappointed

After a series of Classic disasters, Greg Hackney finally had an okay finish. He weighed 18-09 on day 1, then 7-10 on day 2 and 7-13 today.

"The surprising thing is I fished better the last 2 days than the first day," he said. "That weight is misleading. It may look like I had a good first day, but I fished better the last 2 days."

But "I couldn't find big fish. I don't know where they went. There was nothing simple out there, like a place for them to go. So I basically stayed with the same pattern and changed lakes today and tried some new areas."

About his finish, he said: "I'm disappointed every time I don't win."

> He was penalized 2 pounds for a late check-in today. "I got caught in a lock with locals," he said. "I spent 10 minutes waiting on the outside to get in.

21st: Clunn Wanted Blade Bite

This was Rick Clunn's 30th Classic. He won here in 1976, but tried to force a spinnerbait bite this time and it didn't work. He caught 5-15 for a 3-day total of 33-00 and dropped from 18th to finish 21st.

"I've always said that how you feel about the place you end up depends on which direction you got there from. If you end up 10th, but you came from 40th, you feel great. If you were 1st and you end up 4th, you feel real bad. I don't feel real good about it."

He was 5th after day 1. "I had a good start. But Florida's historically been tough for me to maintain a bite over 2 days. Even when I won the Classic in 1977, I had a good first day followed a not so great next 2 days.

"I kept thinking conditions were working exactly to my favor. I wanted to throw a spinnerbait."

He caught a 10-10 on the spinnerbait the first day. "I knew I needed the wind to make the spinnerbait work. I got it both days (2 and 3). Especially today I thought it would work.

"I felt like in the really extreme weather today, I could fish the spinnerbait efficiently, whereas the guys dead-sticking the Senko, I figured the wind would kill them today.

"It was a perfect day to catch up. It just didn't happen."

> He threw a 1/2-ounce-plus Luck-E-Strike Trickster spinnerbait. It had a gold long-drop blade, "which is a cross between a willow-leaf and Indiana." It had a clear-gold skirt and he used a white Luck-E-Strike split-tail trailer.

22nd: Jay Yelas

Jay Yelas weighed 4-10 today and finished with 32-15. To read his report, click here to go On Tour With The BassFan Big Sticks.

22nd: Rook Couldn't Keep Up

Scott Rook was 13th with a 17-02 bag after day 1, but couldn't capitalize on the strong start.

"I felt real good after the first day, but after that I kind of struggled," he said. "I never got any big bites, and I don't know if it was because there wasn't anymore in my area or what. I think some of those guys (who finished higher in the standings) had a lot more big ones in their areas than I did."

He caught a 6-08 limit on day 3 and finished with a 32-15 total. "I really did pretty good considering what I found in practice."

24th: Reese Came To Win

Skeet Reese blanked today and finished with 3-06.

"It sucks," he said. "I came here to win. This is my seventh Classic. I've put myself in decent finishes before, but the bottom line is I'm tired of fishing conservatively just for a good placing.

"I felt like I could have gone out today to just go fishing and catch a limit of males on beds, maybe 8 or 9 pounds, but I told myself, 'I don't need another Top 10. I need a win.'"

So he changed everything. "I went out there today throwing big baits. I threw a 1-ounce Terminator spinnerbait. I took off the blade and put on a giant No. 7 willow-leaf, trying to get big bites. And I used a 10-inch Berkley Power Worm."

He fished all new water but struck out.

25th: Swindle Blanked

A strong 18-06 bag on day 2 allowed Swindle to finish in the top half of the field. He was 47th after day 1 and he zeroed on day 3.

"I'm not afraid to strike out," he said. "This isn't the first time I've done this."

When it was over, he chose to view it as a good warm-up for the tour season. "I'm disappointed in my finish, but I'm glad I was able to get in the rhythm of getting up early every day and getting the juices flowing and my mind working hard."


> Day 3 stats – 25 anglers, 16 limits, 4 fours, 2 threes, 0 twos, 1 one, 2 zeroes.

> Clausen became the seventh wire-to-wire Classic winner, the most recent previous time being Yelas in 2002.

> Clausen is the fifth angler to win both the Classic and FLWTC. The others are: George Cochran, David Fritts, Davy Hite and Dion Hibdon.

> According to BASS, total attendance for Classic week was 62,044. Total weigh-in attendance was 21,742. Final-day weigh-in attendance was 10,019.

> Clunn had long held the record for second-largest bass caught in a Classic. He caught a 10-10 here on day 1 and thought he'd finally beat Ricky Green's record. But Preston Clark wound up with the new record, so Clunn's back in 2nd.

> With his winnings today, VanDam surpassed Denny Brauer as the all-time leading BASS money winner.

Day 3 (Final) Standings

1. Luke Clausen -- Spokane Valley, Wash. -- 15, 56-02 -- $501,000
Day 1: 5, 29-06 -- Day 2: 5, 14-15 -- Day 3: 5, 11-13

2. Rick Morris -- Lanexa, Va. -- 15, 51-00 -- $45,000
Day 1: 5, 18-07 -- Day 2: 5, 18-14 -- Day 3: 5, 13-11

3. Ron Shuffield -- Bismarck, Ark. -- 13, 47-14 -- $40,000
Day 1: 5, 18-15 -- Day 2: 5, 21-00 -- Day 3: 3, 7-15

4. Terry Scroggins -- Palatka, Fla. -- 15, 46-15 -- $31,000
Day 1: 5, 10-14 -- Day 2: 5, 28-06 -- Day 3: 5, 7-11

5. Kevin VanDam -- Kalamazoo, Mich. -- 15, 44-08 -- $25,000
Day 1: 5, 14-02 -- Day 2: 5, 14-15 -- Day 3: 5, 15-07

6. Preston Clark -- Palatka, Fla. -- 12, 44-04 -- $25,000
Day 1: 5, 29-01 -- Day 2: 5, 10-02 -- Day 3: 1, 5-01

7. George Cochran -- Hot Springs, Ark. -- 15, 43-10 -- $21,500
Day 1: 5, 15-01 -- Day 2: 5, 16-11 -- Day 3: 5, 11-14

8. Kevin Wirth -- Crestwood, Ky. -- 15, 42-00 -- $21,000
Day 1: 5, 22-05 -- Day 2: 5, 13-04 -- Day 3: 5, 6-07

9. Jimmy Johnson -- La Crosse, Wisc. -- 15, 41-14 -- $20,500
Day 1: 5, 10-03 -- Day 2: 5, 17-13 -- Day 3: 5, 13-14

10. Larry Nixon -- Bee Branch, Ark. -- 15, 39-13 -- $20,000
Day 1: 5, 19-08 -- Day 2: 5, 9-15 -- Day 3: 5, 10-06

11. Edwin Evers -- Talala, Okla. -- 14, 38-15 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 23-10 -- Day 2: 5, 11-09 -- Day 3: 4, 3-12

12. Dean Rojas -- Lake Havasu, Ariz. -- 15, 38-00 -- $14,500
Day 1: 5, 17-00 -- Day 2: 5, 9-05 -- Day 3: 5, 11-11

13. Jeff Coble -- Manson, N.C. -- 15, 36-15 -- $14,250
Day 1: 5, 16-15 -- Day 2: 5, 14-10 -- Day 3: 5, 5-06

14. Tommy Biffle -- Wagoner, Okla. -- 14, 36-12 -- $14,000
Day 1: 5, 15-05 -- Day 2: 5, 10-14 -- Day 3: 4, 10-09

15. Ishama Monroe -- Hughson, Calif. -- 14, 36-10 -- $13,750
Day 1: 5, 19-02 -- Day 2: 4, 7-01 -- Day 3: 5, 10-07

16. Davy Hite -- Ninety Six, S.C. -- 15, 36-06 -- $13,000
Day 1: 5, 20-09 -- Day 2: 5, 7-12 -- Day 3: 5, 8-01

17. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, Calif. -- 15, 34-13 -- $12,900
Day 1: 5, 15-01 -- Day 2: 5, 11-06 -- Day 3: 5, 8-06

18. Mark Tucker -- Saint Louis, Mo. -- 15, 34-12 -- $12,800
Day 1: 5, 16-12 -- Day 2: 5, 10-09 -- Day 3: 5, 7-07

19. Jeff Kriet -- Ardmore, Okla. -- 14, 34-00 -- $12,650
Day 1: 5, 20-03 -- Day 2: 5, 8-05 -- Day 3: 4, 5-08

19. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, La. -- 14, 34-00 -- $12,650
Day 1: 5, 18-09 -- Day 2: 4, 7-10 -- Day 3: 5, 7-13

21. Rick Clunn -- Ava, Mo. -- 12, 33-00 -- $12,400
Day 1: 5, 20-12 -- Day 2: 3, 6-05 -- Day 3: 4, 5-15

22. Scott Rook -- Little Rock, Ark. -- 15, 32-15 -- $12,250
Day 1: 5, 17-02 -- Day 2: 5, 9-05 -- Day 3: 5, 6-08

22. Jay Yelas -- Tyler, Texas -- 13, 32-15 -- $12,250
Day 1: 5, 13-03 -- Day 2: 5, 15-02 -- Day 3: 3, 4-10

24. Skeet Reese -- Auburn, Calif. -- 10, 30-06 -- $12,100
Day 1: 5, 15-08 -- Day 2: 5, 14-14 -- Day 3: 0, 0-00

25. Gerald Swindle -- Hayden, Ala. -- 10, 27-00 -- $12,000
Day 1: 5, 8-10 -- Day 2: 5, 18-06 -- Day 3: 0, 0-00

Big Bass

> Day 3: Luke Clausen -- Spokane Valley, Wash. -- 5-13 -- $1,000
> Day 2: Terry Scroggins -- Palatka, Fla. -- 9-05 -- $1,000
> Day 1: Preston Clark -- Palatka, Fla. -- 11-10 -- $1,000