CLASSIC '82 WON BY AN INNOVATOR
He was a 7 year-old fishing for blue gills on his uncle’s Mississippi farm when a bass engulfed a gill he was reeling. He started casting the blue gills he caught in order to catch the bigger bass. That began a lifetime of fishing, but It was the beginning of the Bicentennial Year- 1976- 45 years ago when Paul Elias, began his career as a professional bass angler. The Mississippi native is still at it today. The 1976 Florida Invitational on the St. Johns River was the beginning of a legendary run the end of which has yet to be written. Along the way, Elias cemented that status with a Bassmaster Classic win, and by setting a weight record that still stands. His reputation as an innovator was carved in stone when he introduced the masses to the Alabama Rig with a 2011 victory on Lake Guntersville. All reasons why Paul Elias is in the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.
Elias was an early adopter of structure fishing. He has made a career by fishing offshore, and he did it at a time when electronic sophistication was minimal- no idling around dropping waypoints in those days. Paul studied maps, made handwritten notes about offshore locations of stumps and rock piles then added shoreline references so he had visual waypoints of sorts, and it all was legitimized when he won the 1982 Bassmaster Classic on the Alabama River when he used deeper diving crankbaits and longer rods to get to his offshore spots. The popular lures of the day got down to 10 feet but Elias needed more. When his longer rod couldn’t quite get his crankbait down a few feet deeper, he got down on his knees and stuck his rod into the water to gain the extra 2 feet. That’s when he began working with Tom Mann to develop the 20+ that is still one of Paul’s go to lures today. He also worked with Lew’s to create a rod with a longer handle to help him get deeper. Such were
the innovations Elias brought to the sport.
His tournament accomplishments are equally impressive. In addition to his Classic win, Elias has 5 other 1st place finishes, and 56 Top 10’s. He has fished in the Classic 16 times and accumulated over $1.5M in tournament earnings. He still holds the B.A.S.S. 4-day weight record of 132-08 from Falcon Lake, 2008. Over the course of his career Paul has seen many changes in tournament fishing and fishing in general. He notes the biggest changes as the quantum leap in electronic/sonar, Power-Poles and Spot lock revolutionizing anchor systems and trolling motors and the introduction of buzzbaits, suspending jerkbaits, the Alabama Rig, the Senko, and the Ned Rig, as well as innovation from the West Coast like swimbaits, and drop-shot fishing. He has also benefitted in advance healthcare technology having had two shoulder surgeries that have extended his ability to continue to fish the Bass Pro Tour.