By The Associated Press
TULSA, Okla. — Cliff Pace won the Bassmasters Classic on Sunday, finishing with a three-day catch of 54 pounds, 12 ounces at Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.
The 32-year-old Pace, from Petal, Miss., earned $500,000 for his first victory in the event.
“This is a gift that I will always cherish,” said Pace, 32, claiming his first Classic trophy at his fifth Classic appearance. “This is the ultimate high of a career, a life-changing moment.”
Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, was second at 51-8, followed by Hank Cherry, Maiden, N.C., at 49-0.
Pace overcame changing fishing conditions that included snow, rain and below-freezing temperatures, finishing at 21-8 Friday and 21-12 Saturday before slipping to 11-8 Sunday.
He caught only four bass Sunday, one shy of the five-fish limit, and went 5½ hours without a bit.
“Then I pulled up to a place and caught two on back-to-back casts. That gave me four,” Pace said. “My day today was really hard. I caught two in the first hour and didn’t get another bite until about 1:30.”
Pace said his winning lures were Jackall jerkbaits — a Squad Minnow and a Soul Shad — and a Jackall DD Cherry crankbait in a crawdad color. He also used a half-ounce B&M Football Jig with a V&M Twin Tail trailer in green pumpkin. He dipped the trailer’s plastic tails in orange dye for greater visibility in the stained water.