Hamner completes wire-to-wire Bassmaster Classic victory on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees

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Bassmaster Elite Series pro Justin Hamner of Northport, Ala., claimed the 54th Bassmaster Classic title on Sunday with a limit of five bass that weighed 15 pounds, 13 ounces, for a three-day total of 58-3.

Photo by Seigo Saito/B.A.S.S.

March 24, 2024

Hamner completes wire-to-wire Bassmaster Classic victory on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees

TULSA, Okla. — When most anglers win the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing, they at least pretend like it came as the biggest surprise of their lives.

 

But not Justin Hamner.

 

The fourth-year Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Northport, Ala., said openly that he “just had a feeling” coming into this year’s Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Classic presented by Jockey Outdoors that he was going to win — and in three days on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, he turned that feeling into a hard-core reality.

 

Hamner completed an assault on B.A.S.S. history with a Championship Sunday limit of five bass that weighed 15 pounds, 13 ounces, and pushed his three-day total to 58-3. He became only the 10th angler in the 54-year history of the event to lead all three days.

 

“I have no idea what’s been going on, but this past month has been pretty dang good,” said Hamner, who earned $300,000 and the coveted Ray Scott trophy. “I can’t explain it, but I really did feel like I had a good chance to win.”

 

That feeling wasn’t exactly reinforced during a tough practice when Hamner said the best bass he caught was a 3-pounder. But he started the tournament on the spot where he caught that fish and used a shad-colored, deep-diving jerkbait to put together a limit that weighed 22-6 and gave him the Day 1 lead.

 

He went back there for Day 2. But, just like in practice, he couldn’t replicate a pattern and was forced to redirect.

 

“The wind was blowing a ton of bait into the pocket I was fishing,” he said. “When all of that bait got in there, those fish were keyed in on the bait and they wouldn’t bite my jerkbait. I couldn’t make them bite it, and I still can’t really explain it.”

 

That’s when Hamner relocated again and started using Garmin LiveScope to target largemouth in brushpiles. He quickly caught two 5-pounders that pushed him to a 20-pound limit and helped him maintain the lead going into the final day.

 

Despite being in the most visible spot a professional angler can hold, Hamner said he never got nervous until around 1 p.m. on Championship Sunday. At that point, he said he lost four big bass, but he couldn’t say if nerves caused him to lose the fish or if losing the fish caused the nerves.

 

“The first two didn’t bother me at all,” he said. “I still had that calm feeling. But around 1 o’clock, the fish changed and wouldn’t even react. I don’t know what caused what. There’s just no telling what was going through my mind because the pressure was finally starting to get to me.”

 

Despite his troubles, Hamner’s limit of 15-13 helped him hold off Wisconsin angler Adam Rasmussen who made a hard charge with 18-5 on the final day but finished almost 3 pounds back with 55-4.

 

“My father taught me not to talk about myself, so it’s gonna be hard for me to get used to calling myself the Bassmaster Classic champion,” said Hamner, who finished 14th and third in the first two Elite Series events of the year in February. “But it’s been an amazing month.”

 

Hamner said he hadn’t thought about where he’ll put the massive Ray Scott trophy. Instead, he said he’s more worried about moving out of the double-wide trailer he’s living in — something that should be easier to do with the $350,000 he’s won over the past two months.

 

Something else that will likely be easier for the 33-year-old is promoting his sponsors.

 

Though he was coy about which brand of deep-diving jerkbait he used this week, he said he added No. 6 Duo Realis treble hooks — and since they were made from a heavy wire, they helped the bait sink a little further. He stuck with Yo-Zuri T7 Premium Fluorocarbon all week, using 12-pound test when he was around lighter cover and 14-pound test around thicker brush.

 

He used a variety of high-speed baitcasting reels, all on 7-foot Halo Scott Canterbury Series medium-heavy cranking rods.

 

One of the biggest keys to his success, he said, was adding scent from the BaitFuel Hardbait Stick.

 

“It’s the new stick that they came out with that you can actually apply to the hard bait,” he said. “I had like six fish follow my jerkbait today. I would stop and put that stuff on and then catch them. There’s no doubt in my mind it makes a huge difference.

 

“It was like immediate. The whole school would come up chasing it, but they wouldn’t eat it. I put that on there and the first one that would come up would eat it.”

 

Hamner described his cadence with the jerkbait as “weird.”

 

“I change it up a lot — so much that my friends make fun of me,” he said. “I let Garmin LiveScope tell me in real time how the fish are reacting to the bait.

 

“The key, to me, is figuring out what speed they want the bait — and today, they wanted it faster.”

 

When all the talk of rods, reels and baits was done, Hamner summed up his amazing week with a question.

 

“What just happened?” he asked. “I always thought this lake set up the way I like to fish. It’s like Lake Tuscaloosa back home. You can’t do the same thing twice on that lake either. Maybe that helped me this week — maybe. I honestly just can’t explain it.

 

“But, like I said, I had a great feeling coming into the week.”

 

Florida angler Aaron Yavorsky, who turned 18 last week and now holds the record as the youngest angler ever to take part in the Classic, earned the $2,500 Mercury Big Bass of the Tournament prize with the 6-12 largemouth that he caught on Saturday.

 

The Rapala CrushCity Monster Bag of the Week was the 22-6 bag caught by Hamner on Day 1. That earned him an extra $7,000.

 

Hamner also earned the $20,000 Yamaha Power Pay award for being the highest-placing eligible entrant.

 

Alabama pro Will Davis Jr. won the $1,000 BassTrakk Contingency Prize for listing his weight for the week as accurately as anyone in the field.

 

2024 Bassmaster Classic Title Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
2024 Bassmaster Classic Presenting Sponsor: Jockey Outdoors

2024 Bassmaster Classic Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2024 Bassmaster Classic Premier Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Dakota Lithium, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Progressive, Ranger Boats, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha

2024 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo Presenting Sponsor: GSM Outdoors

2024 Bassmaster Classic Local Partner: SCHEELS
2024 Bassmaster Classic Youth Forum Sponsor: U.S. Army

2024 Bassmaster Classic Go Outside Experience Sponsor: Mountain Dew

2024 Bassmaster Classic Tailgate Title Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops

2024 Bassmaster Classic Tailgate Presenting Sponsor: Yokohama Tire

2024 Bassmaster Classic Celebrity Pro-Am Title Sponsor: Progressive

2024 Bassmaster Classic Celebrity Pro-Am Presenting Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops

2024 Bassmaster Classic Host: Tulsa Sports Commission

 

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting-edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

 

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Series presented by SEVIIN, Mercury B.A.S.S. Nation Qualifier Series presented by Lowrance, Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Strike King Bassmaster High School Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Team Championship, Yamaha Rightwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series scored by TourneyX, Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Classic presented by Jockey Outdoors.

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Media Contact: Mandy Pascal, Managing Editor, 205-313-0955, mpascal@bassmaster.com

 

2024 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Classic presented by Jockey Outdoors 3/22-3/24
Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, Tulsa/Grove  OK.
(ANGLER) Standings Day 3

Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts   Total $$$

1.  Justin Hamner          Northport, AL           15  58-03    0 $307,000.00
Day 1: 5   22-06     Day 2: 5   20-00     Day 3: 5   15-13
2.  Adam Rasmussen         Sturgeon Bay, WI        15  55-04    0  $50,000.00
Day 1: 5   19-05     Day 2: 5   17-10     Day 3: 5   18-05
3.  Cody Huff              Ava, MO                 15  50-07    0  $40,000.00
Day 1: 5   21-02     Day 2: 5   15-02     Day 3: 5   14-03
4.  Jay Przekurat          Plover, WI              15  50-01    0  $30,000.00
Day 1: 5   18-05     Day 2: 5   14-02     Day 3: 5   17-10
5.  Lee Livesay            Longview, TX            15  49-11    0  $25,000.00
Day 1: 5   18-15     Day 2: 5   14-02     Day 3: 5   16-10
6.  Cory Johnston          Otonabee CANADA         15  49-06    0  $22,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-15     Day 2: 5   16-09     Day 3: 5   19-14
7.  Kyle Patrick           Cooperstown, NY         15  49-04    0  $21,500.00
Day 1: 5   15-13     Day 2: 5   15-08     Day 3: 5   17-15
8.  Hank Cherry Jr         Lincolnton, NC          15  49-04    0  $21,000.00
Day 1: 5   16-08     Day 2: 5   17-03     Day 3: 5   15-09
9.  Shane LeHew            Catawba, NC             15  48-15    0  $21,500.00
Day 1: 5   16-03     Day 2: 5   13-13     Day 3: 5   18-15
10. Taku Ito               Dalton GA JAPAN         15  48-05    0  $20,000.00
Day 1: 5   14-09     Day 2: 5   17-10     Day 3: 5   16-02
11. Kyoya Fujita           Yamanashi CA JAPAN      15  48-00    0  $15,000.00
Day 1: 5   10-13     Day 2: 5   19-01     Day 3: 5   18-02
12. Cooper Gallant         Bowmanville Ontario CAN 15  47-12    0  $15,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-14     Day 2: 5   19-05     Day 3: 5   14-09
13. Bryant Smith           Roseville, CA           15  46-09    0  $15,000.00
Day 1: 5   14-10     Day 2: 5   14-11     Day 3: 5   17-04
14. Brandon Card           Salisbury, NC           15  46-08    0  $15,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-14     Day 2: 5   21-06     Day 3: 5   12-04
15. Matt Arey              Shelby, NC              15  46-04    0  $15,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-03     Day 2: 5   16-07     Day 3: 5   16-10
16. Easton Fothergill      Grand Rapids , MN       15  45-03    0  $13,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-13     Day 2: 5   17-02     Day 3: 5   15-04
17. Jason Christie         Dry Creek, OK           15  44-09    0  $13,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-01     Day 2: 5   18-02     Day 3: 5   13-06
18. Kyle Welcher           Valley, AL              15  44-02    0  $13,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-08     Day 2: 5   16-04     Day 3: 5   14-06
19. Brandon Cobb           Greenwood, SC           15  43-10    0  $13,000.00
Day 1: 5   15-07     Day 2: 5   13-12     Day 3: 5   14-07
20. Brock Mosley           Collinsville, MS        15  43-08    0  $13,000.00
Day 1: 5   15-06     Day 2: 5   14-00     Day 3: 5   14-02
21. Luke Palmer            Coalgate, OK            15  43-02    0  $14,000.00
Day 1: 5   15-10     Day 2: 5   14-04     Day 3: 5   13-04
22. Brandon Palaniuk       Rathdrum, ID            15  42-02    0  $13,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-07     Day 2: 5   17-00     Day 3: 5   11-11
23. Matt Robertson         Kuttawa, KY             13  42-01    0  $13,000.00
Day 1: 5   16-08     Day 2: 5   15-03     Day 3: 3   10-06
24. Bryan Schmitt          Deale, MD               15  42-01    0  $13,000.00
Day 1: 5   14-07     Day 2: 5   14-15     Day 3: 5   12-11
25. Chris Johnston         Otonabee Ontario CANADA 15  42-00    0  $13,000.00
Day 1: 5   15-02     Day 2: 5   14-04     Day 3: 5   12-10
———————————————————————–

BIG BASS
Day
1   Luke Palmer              Coalgate, OK        06-05      $1,000.00
2   Aaron Yavorsky           Palm Harbor, FL     06-12      $1,000.00
3   Shane LeHew              Catawba, NC         06-07      $1,000.00

———————————————————————–
MERCURY BIG BASS
Aaron Yavorsky           Palm Harbor, FL     06-12      $2,500.00
CRUSHCITY MONSTER BAG

Justin Hamner            Northport, AL       22-06      $7,000.00

———————————————————————–
Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
1        54       272       774-07
2        53       273       786-15
3        24       123       382-00
———————————-
131       668      1943-06