At sweet, unexpected spot, Brauer finally hits jackpot

On The Outdoors

August 16, 1998|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

Denny Brauer of Camdenton, Mo., has earned more than $1 dTC million as a professional bass fisherman and, earlier this summer, was selected as the first pro angler to have his face on a box of Wheaties. But, until last weekend, the big one always got away.

Brauer, Angler of the Year on the rival FLW Tour, won the Bass Masters Classic on High Rock Lake near Greensboro, N.C., eight days ago in his 16th attempt to capture one of bass fishing's toughest tournaments.

"After 16 years, you really don't know if it's ever going to happen," Brauer, 49, said after weighing in 46 pounds, 3 ounces and beating second-place George Cochran of Arkansas by nearly 10 pounds.

"It finally happened."

But in a year that included victories in back-to-back Bassmaster Top 100 tournaments and earnings of more than $300,000, Brauer's Classic victory didn't come easily.

At the end of the first of three days of competition, Brauer was in eighth place, fishing the same waters where, in the 1995 Classic, he caught one fish in three days and finished last.

Cochran, winner of the Classic in 1996 and 1987, had a good first day, weighing in a five-bass limit for 17 pounds, 3 ounces and said he was on fish, catching seven keepers from one spot and two from another.

"There are 46 of the best fishermen in the world here, but today it went my way," said Cochran, one of only four anglers to win more than one Classic. "I was focused real well and took advantage of my opportunities."

The opportunities started coming Brauer's way on Friday.

"I had a tremendous day," Brauer said. "When you catch a 7-pound, 6-ounce fish in the first five minutes, you know it's going to be a good day. I had my limit by 8: 25 a.m."

For the day, Brauer -- a former bricklayer who has won 10 Bass Anglers Sportsmen's Society tournaments in his 18-year career -- caught five bass for 17 pounds, 14 ounces and a two-day total of 29-15 and a 14-ounce lead over Cochran.

"I had a shot at a limit, but I lost one fish," said Cochran. "I caught a lot fish today. I threw back nine non-keepers."

That one missed fish probably cost Cochran the lead, and gave Brauer confidence he could continue to beat the long-standing High Rock jinx.

On Saturday morning, Brauer again headed to the upper end and brought back a limit of 16 pounds, 4 ounces, largely on the strength of a black and red metal-flake tube-jig, rigged Texas-style on clear, 25-pound test line.

After the tournament, he said he was fishing shallow water in the upper end of High Rock, taking fish in one to two feet of water around fallen logs atop a mud bank.

"That's one question I won't have to answer anymore," Brauer said at the final weigh-in. "I'm a Classic champion."

Pub Date: 8/16/98

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