Rick Clunn is the greatest.
In my world, the four-time Bassmaster Classic winner is the greatest pro bass fisherman.
But the point may be argued, well.
I think a very strong case could be made for Kevin VanDam, just coming off winning his third Classic title last Sunday.
That got me thinking, sometimes a great notion, sometimes dangerous.
At least a beginning construct for fishing sabermetrics.
Sabermetrics is the statistical method ignited by Bill James to look at baseball by the numbers. James changed the way we evaluate baseball players.
I am simply seeking a way to look at comparing pro fishermen beyond gut feel.
To set this up, I rode with both pro fishing legends -- with VanDam on Downstate Lake Kinkaid in 1999, with Clunn in 2000 on the second day of the Classic in Chicago and on a practice day for the 2005 Classic in Pittsburgh (above working a sunken boat, if I remember right on the Allegheny).
What I am trying to do is figure out a way to cimpare pro fishermen over time and with something more than a gut feel.
Fishing by the numbers.
Here are my key starting points. (In the Sun-Times, I used the numbers from the 40th Classic as examples.)
The foremost measure is catch average value (CAV). That's an angler's daily average weight divided by tournament average weight.
CAV is the most central stat. It should work as a comparative device at both the pro and club levels.
On the pro side, money average value (MAV), earnings divided by field average, would be next most important.
I played with limit average value (LAV), comparing limits weighed in versus the field's average number of limits. But that's a deceptive stat and devalues performance's like that of Russ Lane, who weighed only two limits but finished fourth.
Better is the keeper average value (KAV), average fish weight by angler divided by average fish weighed.
I think it is a starting point. But then maybe I am just ready for spring and baseball, and open-water fishing to begin in earnest.