Third Time's A Charm

Tournament Tips

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. - (May 15, 2001) - Wrapping up his third B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year title in the past seven years, Mark Davis made winning one of the sport's most treasured awards look easy. But the truth is that this Angler of the Year three-peat was anything but easy for the Arkansas pro.

"I think this one is even more special than the other two because of what I went through last year," Davis said. "Back in the fall of 1999 after my surgeries, truthfully, I had doubts about whether or not I would be able to fish at this level again. I didn't even tell (wife) Tilly, but I was seriously worried about my career."

It had to be hard to remain optimistic during the six weeks when he was forced to wear casts on both arms and couldn't even feed himself. Davis underwent surgery on his right shoulder and left elbow to repair the deterioration of years of wear and tear caused by the rigors of competing at the big-league level. But the pain lingered for months after rehab had been completed.

"Back in those days, I never could have envisioned ever winning another Angler of the Year," he admits. "So that makes this even sweeter."

It was months later while competing in the rigorous World Championship Fishing boating/bass summertime events, that Davis first began to believe that he would make a full recovery and return to his past form as one of the best bass fishermen in America.

Davis, 37, won his first Angler of the Year title in 1995 and then went on to make B.A.S.S. history by becoming the only fisherman to ever win Angler of the Year and the BASS Masters Classic in the same season. He followed that up by winning Angler of the Year in 1998.

This season, Davis began aiming for a third Angler of the Year trophy about mid-season when he found himself locked into a running battle with three-time Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam. With his worst finish, a respectable 22nd place, Davis enjoyed a substantial lead over the Michigan pro entering the final Top 150 event of the 2000-01 BASSMASTER season MegaBucks.

But VanDam never stood a chance as the tournament on Douglas Lake unfolded. Davis ended any suspense early by winning the qualifying portion of MegaBucks with 41-plus pounds of bass.

"I've had a real solid year, and I'm thrilled to win Angler of the Year," Davis said. "I know how hard it is to win Angler of the Year, so I can really appreciate it."

Now the personable Arkansas angler will set his sights on the upcoming Classic Aug. 2-4 on the Louisiana Delta near New Orleans and a chance to enjoy another unprecedented double (Angler of the Year and the Classic crown in the same season).

"I'm excited about the Classic and going back to the Delta," said Davis, who will be competing in his 10th Classic. "It's a great fishery and the kind of place where you can get away from the crowds and do your own thing. It's going to be exciting."