Hank Cherry Closes On Bassmaster All-Star Win After ‘Perfect Day’

MUSKEGON, Mich. — There’s not a suggestion of rookie green clinging to Hank Cherry now.

A first-year Bassmaster Elite Series pro when the season began in March, Cherry of Maiden, N.C., has his first Elite Series win in the bag.

In Sunday’s final-day, four-angler shootout in the Evan Williams Bourbon Championship, Cherry won the $50,000 first prize by a margin of 2 pounds, 10 ounces.

“This is unbelievable,” he said. “I’m sky-high. I lost no fish today; nothing went wrong. It was just a perfect day.”

Cherry weighed in 17 pounds, 8 ounces of smallmouth bass, easily getting the best of local favorite Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich. VanDam posted 14-14 for the runner-up spot.

Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss., finished third with 11-6. Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., was fourth with 10-15.

The Sept. 27-29 championship, part of Toyota All-Star Week out of Muskegon, began with 14 Bassmaster Elite Series pros. Each competed for two days on Muskegon Lake. Only the four pros with the highest Muskegon Lake weights made the cut to move to White Lake’s final leg.
With Muskegon weights dropped, the four went head-to-head, starting from scratch.

Cherry became the second rookie to win a Bassmaster Elite Series postseason event. Ott DeFoe won in 2011 to close out his rookie season.

Cherry is not your typical rookie. He had years of experience competing in various circuits before he joined the Bass Pro Shops Opens series in 2011. At the end of his second year as an Opens pro, he won an event on Alabama’s Smith Lake and walked away with a 2013 Classic berth. He also qualified for the 2013 Elite season.

In his first Classic appearance, he finished in third-place. (He still looks back with pain on a lost fish that he says cost him the Classic win.) By the end of the regular eight-event Elite Series season, he had won the 2013 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year race. He finished 14th in points, easily securing a Classic berth for 2014.

Sunday on White Lake, Cherry stuck to a pattern of throwing a swimbait off long points, the same pattern that produced for him on Muskegon for two days to get him to the final round.

“I was around a lot of bait and a lot of fish,” said Cherry, adding that he caught about 25 bass throughout the day. Most of them took his Damiki swimbait rigged on a 1/4-ounce jighead with a 4/0 hook, all in various shad finishes.

His key spot was special because of an underwater sandbar that created a “huge current break,” he said, which set up as a perfect spot for smallmouth bass chasing baitfish.

“The shad were there in bunches around that breakline. That’s all it was,” he said.

One flurry of catches on his magic spot that lasted about 45 minutes sealed the deal for him.

“I caught a 4 (pounder), a 4, a 3, a 2/12, a 2/12. I don’t know what happened to turn them on,” he said.

An early-day decision to give up on his quest for largemouth, for which White Lake has a reputation, paid off.

“I just stopped and said, ‘I’m going smallmouth fishing,’” he said.

When a reporter asked if he still felt like a rookie, Cherry replied: “I feel like a champ.”

The event’s Carhartt Big Bass award of $1,000, plus another $500 for wearing Carhartt apparel went to Pace. He took the award for his 4-14 smallmouth of Friday from Muskegon Lake.

Cherry received the $1,000 Power-Pole bonus.

Running concurrently with the Elite Series event was the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Classic Bracket on Grand River. The coveted prize of that event, an entry in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, was won by Jordan Lee of Auburn University in Auburn, Ala.

On Sunday, eliminated Elite pros paired up with veterans and other guests in the Folds of Honor Foundation Pro-Am presented by ARE. The Folds of Honor Foundation provides educational scholarships to the dependents of service members killed or disabled while serving our country. Contribution buckets were passed through the crowd at the weigh-in to support the cause.

Bassmaster fan Clay Wilson of Rogers, Ark., won the Toyota All-Star Fan Favorite Angler Sweepstakes prize of a 2014 Toyota Tundra valued at $35,000. His name had been randomly paired with Cherry’s before the competition began.

TV coverage of Toyota All-Star Week will be presented on The Bassmasters on Sunday, Oct. 13, on ESPN2, in three hour-long shows. At 2-3 p.m. ET, and again at 4-5 p.m., the first show will set the stage. Two more shows about the competition will air at 6-7 and 7-8 p.m. ET.

2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha

2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Carhartt, Diet Mountain Dew, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Luck-E-Strike, Power-Pole, Ramada, Shimano

2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Proud Partner: Mustang Survival

About B.A.S.S.
For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.

The Bassmaster brand and its multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications — Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times — comprehensive website Bassmaster.com and ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, Bassmaster Wild Card, B.A.S.S. Nation events and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.

B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members and remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.

Evan Williams Continued Support of BassMaster and Announces Sponsorship of 2 Anglers

BARDSTOWN, KY. – Evan Williams Bourbon, the second largest selling Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey both in the US and globally, and one of the top non-endemic sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series, announces that top anglers John Crews and Hank Cherry have joined Team Evan Williams for the 2013-2014 season.

Evan Williams, which has consistently seen the greatest year-on-year growth of any mid-tier high volume Bourbon brand, began its involvement with professional bass fishing in 2003 through a sponsorship agreement with BASS, and the next year began sponsoring its first Bassmaster Elite Series pro.  Evan Williams has steadily increased their stake in Bassmaster, which includes the  Elite Series, Opens and BASS Nation, and is now the title sponsor of two Elite Series events: The Evan Williams Bourbon Showdown on the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York and the Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship in Muskegon, Michigan.

Joining Team Evan Williams will be John Crews, who throughout 13 years as a professional has fished several tournament trails, most notably the Bassmaster Elite Series. Currently ranked among the top 20 anglers in the world, John is a seven- time Bassmaster Classic qualifier and and has placed 3rd in two Elite Series events so far this year.  He has 17 top ten Elite Series finishes, and hails from Salem, VA.

Also coming on board Team Evan Williams for the upcoming season will be North Carolina native Hank Cherry, who is new to the Bassmaster Elite Series, but is having a breakout rookie season in 2013. After winning the Southern Open on Lewis Smith Lake, AL in 2012, Hank qualified for the coveted Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in Tulsa, OK where he placed 3rd. He is also currently ranked among the top 25 anglers in the world and  has three top ten Elite Series finishes.

The brand will also have a presence at all the other events on the Bassmaster Elite Series and at the consumer exposition shows that accompany all of the fishing tournaments, including next year’s Bassmaster Classic in Birmingham, AL in February.

“Evan Williams has for a number of years made a significant investment in Bassmaster,” stated Susan Wahl, Senior Brand Manager at Heaven Hill.  “The consumer demographics are very positive towards Bourbon and it engenders real brand loyalty, especially for a non-endemic sponsor such as us.  We are pleased to be adding John Crews and Hank Cherry as members of Team Evan Williams and anticipate them appearing often on the weigh-in stage in their Evan Williams logoed uniforms.”

About Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Named after Kentucky’s First Commercial Distiller of 1783, Evan Williams Bourbon—at an average national retail price of $13.99 for the 750ml size—is a two time “Best Buy Whiskey of the Year” from Whisky Advocate Magazine and a Gold Medalist at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.  It is produced according to a traditional 200 year old recipe by Heaven Hill’s father and son Master Distillers Parker and Craig Beam.  Bottled at 86 proof (43% alcohol by volume), Evan Williams is available in 1.75 liter, 1.0 liter, 750ml, 375ml, 200ml, 100ml and 50ml bottle sizes.

To further the brand’s consumer awareness and take advantage of the huge increase in Bourbon tourism and interest in the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, Heaven Hill is opening the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience this Fall. Featuring an immersive visitor experience that takes guests back to Evan Williams’ distillery on the banks of the Ohio, which was established over 200 years ago just across Louisville’s Main Street from where the facility will be located, the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience will include an artisanal distillery and guided tours and tastings.

About Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc.
Founded in 1934, Bardstown, KY-based Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. (www.heavenhill.com) is the nation’s largest independent, family-owned and operated spirits producer and marketer and the world’s second-largest holder of Kentucky Bourbon. Heaven Hill’s diversified portfolio of brands includes Evan Williams Bourbon; Burnett’s Vodkas and Gin; HPNOTIQ and HPNOTIQ Harmonie Liqueurs; Admiral Nelson’s and Blackheart Rums; The Christian Brothers Brandies; PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur; Lunazul Tequila and Rittenhouse Rye Whisky.  Heaven Hill reminds you to “Think Wisely.  Drink Wisely.”


Eco Pro Tungsten inks Cherry

Eco Pro Tungsten has announced the addition of Bassmaster Elite Series pro Hank Cherry to its pro staff. Cherry was the 3rd-place finisher at this year’s Bassmaster Classic and currently leads the Elite Series Rookie of the Year race.

“We started watching Hank at the Classic and he continues to do well,” said Eco Pro Tungsten pro staff manager Tyler Brinks. “Aside from his tournament success, he is a great promoter and dedicated family man. He is going to fit right in with our team.”

Said Cherry: “I have been using Eco Pro Tungsten weights for a few years now and it’s really all I have ever used. I’m happy to be part of a group of top-notch individuals and a company with such great products. It’s really a great honor.”

Hank Cherry joins Livingston team

Bassmaster Elite Series angler Hank Cherry has joined the Livingston Lures Pro Angler Team. Cherry, coming off of an impressive third place finish at the Bassmaster Classic, is the latest addition to the Livingston Lure Pro Angler Team, joining Brent Chapman, Jeff Kriet and Randy Howell.

While Cherry is a rookie on the Elite Series trail, he has dominated regional pro circuits for over a decade.

Cherry took notice of Livingston Lures at the Sabine River Elite Series event, “I had heard about Livingston at the Bassmaster Classic, but never had the chance to visit their booth. At the Sabine River event, I got the chance to see fans react to their products, and I was impressed. Then at the Falcon Lake event I had a chance to actually spend some time in their set-up. Again, the fans were excited about the baits and when I heard several customers talking about how much they liked the baits they had purchased on previous days, I knew I wanted to be a part of this team.”

Cherry met with Livingston executives and the entire pro angler team at a Livingston retreat at Horseshoe Bay Resort 80 miles north of the Livingston’s headquarters. Cherry stated, “I met with the people of Livingston and saw firsthand how the company cares about its products, its people and growing the sport as much as I do. The entire Livingston Pro Team and I worked with lure designer Jerry Rago on the new Pro Series line of baits, which should debut at ICAST in July. It’s a very exciting time for Livingston Lures right now, and I am proud to be a part of it.”

Fred Battah, CEO of Livingston Lures, is pleased to have Hank Cherry join the Livingston team. Battah said, “We observed Hank’s fishing skills, personal composure and stage presence at the Bassmaster Classic. Now that we have spent some time with him, there is no doubt he is not only an exceptional angler but a quality person with a high level of fishing intelligence. Hank will be a very valued asset and team member for the Livingston Lures Pro Angler Team.”

Livingston Lures offers a full line-up of hard baits that have extensive technology built into them, including sound. Sound has quickly become a tool anglers at all levels have started utilizing frequently. Cherry expressed, “From my experience on the water, sound is a valuable element in catching bass. Livingston’s sound and vibration technology is something I have already added to my tacklebox. Fishing against the best anglers in the world, I need all the advantages I can get.”

For more information about Livingston Lures, visit LivingstonLures.com.