Fishing / POSTED 06-Apr-2024

Justin Hamner ‘Had A Feeling’ He Would Win Bassmaster Classic

As Justin Hamner explains it, he never had a Plan B. From about the age of 10 when he decided he wanted to become a professional bass fisherman, everything he’s done from that moment on has kept him pointed in that direction.  Now in his fourth season in the Bassmaster Elite Series, the young Yamaha Pro is also the 2024 Bassmaster Classic® champion. The Northport, Alabama angler led all three days of the Classic, weighing in 58 pounds, three ounces of bass at Oklahoma’s Grand Lake and winning by almost three pounds.  

“It was weird,” he admits.  “I had never been on Grand Lake before, but even before I arrived, I thought I was going to win.  This past year during the off-season, I was able to fish quite a bit so I felt really confident.  Then, I had good finishes in the first two Elite events this season at Toledo Bend and Lake Fork, and that just added to my confidence.  


“Even though I had one of the worst practices at Grand that anyone could have, I never lost that confidence.  I only caught a couple of good quality fish, and then on the first day of the Classic, the weather changed and even what little I had found all went away.  I didn’t have to start over from scratch but I wasn’t far from it.”

That first day, all Hamner did was bring in 22-6, the heaviest single catch of the tournament.  As the day progressed, he began to understand what the bass were doing and he slowed his presentation dramatically.  It took him four hours to fish a 200-yard stretch in the dead-calm water.  The next day, with wind blowing into that same pocket, he started all over again in a different area, added another 20 pounds to his total, and kept the lead.

“I had saved one area but when I went into it on the final day, Adam Rasmussen, who eventually finished second, was already there, so I went to still another spot that was protected from the wind where I was able to add 15-13,” Hamner continues.  “I lost four quality bass that day, but fortunately what I did catch was enough to win.”


Two of those lost fish came only a few casts apart late in the afternoon but neither caused the Yamaha Pro to falter.  He’d been fishing tournaments with his father Carl on lakes all over Alabama since he was seven years old and had lost fish before.

“Fishing those tournaments with my father is where my love of fishing started,” notes Hamner. “Every day I’m on the water, it’s only about me and the fish. It’s just so much fun to be able to fish for a living. It’s what I’ve always dreamed of doing and I’m proof that dreams do come true.”

Even while working for six years as a groundskeeper at the University of Alabama®, where, after a home football game on Saturday he and his fellow ground crew members had to have the entire campus spotless by 10 a.m. Sunday, he fished as much as possible during his free time.

Another reason Hamner was able to keep his concentration throughout the week is that this was actually his second appearance in a Bassmaster Classic. He also qualified for the 2022 Classic on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell where he finished fourth.  

“That Classic was a whirlwind of non-stop activity,” Hamner remembers, “and for me it was really just about enjoying the experience.  Walking across that Classic stage was another dream come true, so this time at Grand Lake, I kind of knew what to expect.  It was still a very busy week in Tulsa, but as soon as I was on the water, all those extra activities and distractions disappeared. I was just out there having fun.”


In addition to the $300,000 first place prize as the Classic champion, Hamner was also awarded a check for $20,000 from Yamaha for being the highest-placing Yamaha Pro in their Power Pay bonus program.  He was completely surprised by the Award, but certainly, it added to the fun he was having. 

He hasn’t needed a Plan B afterall.

  Back to Blue Life