A look back … VanDam won first Classic here in 2001

A hurricane threatening the Louisiana Gulf coast wasn’t enough to prevent Kevin VanDam from claiming the world championship of professional angling in the 31st Bassmaster Classic Aug. 2-4, 2001, in New Orleans.

VanDam won the event in his 11th try with a three-day total weight of 32-5 and edged second-place Scott Rook by 1 pound, 1 ounce.

“This is so awesome,” said VanDam. “Except for when my kids were born, this is probably the happiest day of my life.”

VanDam’s success came on two lures made by Strike King: 1/2-ounce black/blue/purple Strike King Premier Elite jig with a Zoom Super Chunk trailer; and a Wild Thing soft plastic creature bait.

Both were tied to 25-pound-test Bass Pro Shops XPS Fluorocarbon line.

The 2001 Classic was the first of the ESPN era. The network broadcast daily updates of the competition as well as part of the final weigh-in from the Louisiana Superdome.

During the Classic practice day, California’s Mark Tyler’s boat was struck by lightning as he was running for shelter. The bolt knocked him out, and when he awoke, his rod and reel were gone. Tyler wasn’t sure whether they were knocked overboard or “vaporized.”


Top 6 finishers
1. Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. 32-05
2. Scott Rook, Little Rock, Ark. 31-04
3. David Walker, Cannon, Ky. 31-03
4. Harold Allen, Shelbyville, Texas 27-10
5. Gerald Swindle, Hayden, Ala. 26-11
5. Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas 26-11