Macaluso: Legendary Rick Clunn coming to twon _lowres

Rick Clunn

It’s the sort of “Stop the Presses” moment south Louisiana bass fishermen have waited for for a long, long time.

Rick Clunn is coming to town, well to Denham Springs, this week for Bass Pro Shops’ 2016 Spring Fishing Classic.

He’s the headliner for the Friday through Sunday Bassmaster University part of this annual fishing celebration.

That’s not to demean the accomplishments of fellow Bassmaster U. “professor” Brent Chapman, who’ll partner with Clunn for a series of weekend seminars at Bass Pro, but having a chance to hear Clunn is akin to sitting in on talking baseball with somebody like Derek Jeter, or football with Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, or basketball with Shaq or LeBron James or Michael Jordan.

If you don’t know the name, then you’re a Johnny-come-lately to bass fishing.

Before there was Kevin VanDam, there was Rick Clunn. He won four Bassmaster Classic titles and when it came time for ESPN, when that giant TV enterprise owned the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, to ask fishermen across the country in 2004 to name the greatest ever bass fisherman, Clunn was the overwhelming choice.

If this sounds like gushing, then it is. It’s been a rare privilege to have the chance to interview this now slightly built, gray-haired gentleman, to pick his brain, and to come to understand that, truly, he’s forgotten more about bass fishing — and just the pure art of the sport — that most folks will ever know.

It was astounding to know that he shunned staying in motels like other fellow tournament competitors and pitched a tent wherever it was allowed next to the tournament lake in practice and through competition days. He said the tactic helped him better understand the lake.

He won Classic titles on rivers and impoundments and continues to hold the record for most, at 32, Classic appearances, a tournament that brings the best bass fishermen in the world to one place at one time to determine the winner of an event that’s become know as “The Super Bowl of Bass Fishing.”

Clunn’s seminar schedule is 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. next Sunday. Chapman, a 13-time Classic qualifier, the 2012 Angler of the Year and all-around nice guy, is scheduled for seminars at 1 p.m. Saturday and noon next Sunday.

Local top anglers will have seminars Friday through Sunday.

A woman’s fishing workshop is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday, and there are events for young anglers, including a no-fee catch & release pond from noon-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with kids fishing workshops set for 4:30 p.m. both afternoons.