By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Come March, Clent Davis will have a chance to become the sixth angler to win both the FLW Cup and the Bassmaster Classic. His opportunity to pull off that rare feat will come on a body of water that he knows well.
Perhaps surprisingly to some, there's a part of him that wishes his initial Classic appearance were at a different venue. Like, any other lake (or river) not named Guntersville.
"The exciting part is that the weigh-ins will be in Birmingham and my family and everybody will be able to get there," said Davis, whose residence in Montevallo is about a 30-minute drive (depending on traffic) from the host city. "Other than that, I'd rather it be somewhere else.
"The main thing I'm worried about is wanting to fish history. I've talked to (fellow Alabamians Scott Canterbury and Matt Herren), they're older than I am and they've fished the lake more than I have, and it's the same deal for them. I feel like I'm going to spend the whole time chasing the past. That can work out sometimes, but it can kill you, too.
"I'm not going to be focused on fishing just one particular way, but there are certain deals that go on at that time of year and whether I can get dialed in on one of the right ones before the tournament starts remains to be seen. There's been so many major events on that lake that everybody knows a lot about it. I might have a few things that'll help me get a 3- to 5-pounder when I need one, but as far as some glory hole that I know I can catch 25 pounds a day off of, I don't have that."
Having Fun Now
Davis, who turned 34 at the end of December, garnered his Classic berth by finishing 25th in the 2019 Angler of the Year standings. He logged top-10 showings at Lake Lanier and Winyah Bay and had only one true stinker outing (71st at the St. Lawrence River).
It's his second stint on the circuit; he also fished it in 2016-17 after qualifying through the Opens, but was relegated out after finishes of 70th and 98th in the points. He considered getting out of pro fishing altogether at that juncture, but returned to the FLW Tour (where he'd competed for five years and was the 2011 Rookie of the Year), qualified for the Cup at Lake Ouachita and claimed the $300,000 top prize with a three-day total of 36-13.
His placement on the final points list that year? Wait for it ... 25th.
He got an invitation to come back to the Elites after 68 anglers departed for the inaugural Bass Pro Tour and he's taken full advantage from a competition perspective. He says he's also enjoying himself a lot more.
"I don't know if it's the anglers who are here now or the way B.A.S.S. is running it, but it's been a completely different environment," he said. "I couldn't see myself going anywhere else – or even attempting to. There's a lot of fun, young anglers and there's not much arrogance. Being around good people has a lot to do with it."
No Recent Experience
As is his norm nowadays, Davis has done no fishing whatsoever since the conclusion of the AOY Championship in early October.
"I still haven't picked up a rod since I left Lake St. Clair," he said. "I've got to make myself take that down time. All I've been doing is taking care of my 4-year-old (daughter Kayt), doing chores for my wife and deer hunting.
"When the season starts, it's really like a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week job for eight months. There aren't any vacations in there."
He naturally hopes he can carry the good momentum he established last year into the upcoming season. He said his only tangible goal will be to qualify for the 2021 Classic.
"You hear a lot of guys talk about how they fish to win every event, and I do too, but the reality is there are some weeks when you've got to fall back and grind out what you can for points. Everybody wants to win Angler of the Year, but there's a lot of good fortune that goes into it and I saw that last year with (Canterbury), talking to him in practice every week. He's one of the best there is, but some of the stuff that happened for him was just amazing.
"Going by the schedule, it's going to take some big weights to win it this year. I like the looks of it."
> The five anglers who've won both the Classic and the Cup are Luke Clausen, George Cochran, David Fritts, Deion Hibdon and Davy Hite.