TWO INTERESTING FINALS, TWO CLASSIC WINS
It's easy to feel like you know Hank Parker. We've fished with him, been on family trips with his wife and kids, and seen him teach his grandchildren to fish. For thirty years we've invited him into our family rooms where he has shared his fishing knowledge and his fishing adventures. Along the way the NC native and SC resident won the 1979 (Lake Texhoma), and 1989 (James River) Bassmaster Classics, making him one of only six anglers to win the event more than once.
Hank’s professional fishing career begin in 1976 when he began fishing the National Bass Association Circuit, winning their national championship in his first season. The following two years he fished both the NBA and American Bass Association. His success and help from newly acquired sponsors, earned him a spot on the B.A.S.S. Tournament Trail where he won the Bassmaster Classic in 1979 and 1989. He has fished a total of 104 professional tournaments including 13 Classics. He finished in the money 77 times, including 32 top 10's, for career winnings of $405,156
Hank's two wins could not have been more different. In '79 he was early in his career, full of energy, focused on being a dominating angler. After Day 1, Hank had weighed a limit of 15-14 and received a 12-oz bonus for his fish being alive for a total of 16-10. He had abandoned his spinnerbait strategy for flipping visible shallow cover. The change worked and he was in the lead, but Gary Klein was very much in the hunt. That night the two anglers were talking. Parker had broken his prototype flipping stick and Gary loaned him one of his flipping rods.
On Day 2 Basil Bacon, Rick Clunn, Roland Martin, and Klein all had good bags. But Parker had another good flipping day ending it with a two-day total over 28 lbs. Parker struggled on Day 3, and with one fish to weigh, he was nervous. But thanks to his good first and second day effort, Parker still won with 31-pounds even, a three-pound victory over Bacon
The second was a much greater challenge in more ways than one. Hank was raising a family of four kids, hosting a successful TV show, and he had not been having a lot of success on the tournament trail. The fact that he was fishing the Classic was considered a sort of "come back". The 1989 event is best remembered as the Classic that Jim Bitter let slip from his grasp The Florida pro committed the equivalent of a soccer "own goal" by accidentally tossing a keeper bass overboard while attempting to drop it in the livewell. The fish, got free, bounced off a tacklebox and fell into the water. He failed to catch another and Parker went on to win by the slimmest of two ounce margins.