Classic Countdown: 25

Roland Martin is undoubtedly one of the greatest anglers in history. His accomplishments in the world of professional bass fishing are too numerous to list here, but here are some highlights:

  • 9 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year awards — five more than any other angler

  • 19 BASS tournament wins — three more than any other angler

  • winner of three BASS events in a row

  • author of Roland Martin's 101 Bass Catching Secrets, one of the most influential fishing books ever published

  • host of Fishing with Roland Martin for more than 30 years

  • inductee in every reputable fishing hall of fame in the world

  • runner-up (to Rick Clunn) in the ESPN Greatest Angler Debate in 2005

Obviously, there's a lot to say about Roland Martin and a lot of very impressive numbers to throw around.

One number that may haunt Martin is 25. That's how many times he qualified to fish the Bassmaster Classic and how many times he didn't win it.

He came close a few times — 2nd in 1980, 4th in 1971, 1977 and 2003 — but a Classic championship is the one thing that eluded Martin, the last jewel he needed for a king's crown.

Most bass fishing authorities agree that if Martin had won just one Classic in his storied career, he'd be universally recognized as the best bass angler in history. Without it, the accolades and popularity contests go most often to Rick Clunn and Kevin VanDam.

And speaking of Clunn, the number 25 plays large in his Classic career, too.

In 1984, Clunn fished the ultimate Classic, winning his third championship and forever claiming center stage at fishing's biggest event.

In three days on the Arkansas River, Clunn posted the top daily catch each and every day. No one had done that before, and no one's done it since.

His lead stretched from 5 pounds, 13 ounces to 15-5 to an almost unbelievable 25-8. It's not only the largest margin of victory in Classic history, but one of the largest spreads in any BASS event.

If Clunn had sat out the third and final day, he still would have finished second. His first keeper that day sealed his victory, but he didn't stop there. Clunn went out in the final round and put together the best day of the entire tournament — seven bass weighing 27-5.

He had fished the perfect tournament.

Twenty-four hours in a day and 24 anglers in the first Classic. Coincidence? Well, of course it is. Find out more about 24 tomorrow.

For the full countdown to the 39th Bassmaster Classic, click here.