By Luigi De Rose
A week after Cliff Pace was crowned the BASSMASTER CLASSIC champion IBASSIN.com had an opportunity to chat with him. In an attempt to learn more about the mild mannered pro from Mississippi, this portion of the interview focuses on Cliff Pace the person and angler and the effects of winning the Classic.
|Cliff Pace Wins.|
At 32 years of age, Pace has three BASS wins to his credit. Both of his prior victories occurred at Central BASS Opens. The Classic win on Grand Lake was his first Tour victory on the Elite circuit. He has 4 second place finishes, two during the 2012 season, and has earned just over $1.2 million with BASS. Many people close to Cliff feel that the Classic was a breakout tournament and expect many great achievements from him in the near future.
First of all, congratulations on the Classic win. Many past winners have stated that, “the Classic will change your life.” It’s been a week, how much has changed?
Thanks! Winning has not really changed much of anything. It’s added to my life. My schedule is very busy. Winning has given opportunities. Opportunities for my friends, family and sponsors to enjoy the Classic win. It has given me a great chance to appreciate all of them (sponsors, friends and family) and let them celebrate the win and given them a chance to shine.
How has the response been of you winning?
I have had hundreds of emails, calls and people congratulating me. So many people have mentioned how proud they were of me for being me. I am not the kind of guy to go crazy and throw my shoes into the crowd during the Classic. I am not that kind of person.
At the Classic, during the press conference you said that deep, rocky lakes were foreign to you when you first started out. Being from Mississippi, where 5 feet is deep, is this win, outside the fact that it is the Classic, more special?
When I first started out cold, deep water was new to me. Early in my career, those lakes were a struggle so I focused on trying to improve on these types of lakes. Anytime an angler is facing a struggle its best to take the time and just fish. Time on the water is the key to working on a weakness. This win is very special but not more special because it was on Grand.
How old were you when you realized that professional bass fishing was the profession for you?
It’s always been a passion. All the pros (at that time) were my childhood heroes and I watched BASSMASTERS TV shows all the time. It was my favorite. Being out there and fishing is all I want to do.
Who has been your mentor(s) in fishing?
I have had lots of mentors. Many anglers have shared their knowledge with me. There are so many I cannot name just one. All their knowledge is part of who I am as a person and angler. I try to share with others. It’s something that has shaped me as a person.
For the last few years, Gary Klein and Mark Davis have helped me on tour. They both have a lot of experience and we all share when it comes to fishing. I’ve benefited more from their knowledge than they have from mine but we all share. One thing that all anglers can benefit from is to learn from people. It is always best to learn from 3 or 4 anglers than fishing with just one person. You can learn a lot from others and that will help your fishing.
Explain to the fans what happens behind the scenes when the Classic anglers are waiting to weigh in. Explain your emotions as you waited for your turn to enter the arena.
Back stage is a busy place. It’s also very exciting. All the anglers are talking to each other or with the media. Plus we are watching the leader board.
For me, I am a huge fan of the Classic and I want to see how my friends are doing. I want to see how high they finish and what they got. I am not checking people off my list. It’s not like that. I am just watching and seeing how the Classic was unfolding.
We (the Classic competitors) don’t really talk about what we have caught because you really don’t know what we have. On the last day of the Classic I thought I had 10 pounds. I was worried that I might not have enough. You just never really know.
I knew I left the door open and that made the wait grueling. A few guys had a good shot at winning so the wait was just terrible. Yeah, it’s really grueling.
While interviewing Cliff, it became evident that he loves to fish. We all do but the shear enjoyment of just fishing has never left him. It is not about acting wild for the TV cameras or selling the next lure. Cliff really enjoys fishing and the challenge of figuring out how to catch them. He is an avid bow hunter and enjoys all elements of the outdoors. You get a sense that the Classic will not change his true character. Cliff Pace is very grounded and appreciative of his sponsors, family, fellow competitors and the honor that comes with winning the Classic.
Part 2 will be coming shortly.