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Written by Dan O’Sullivan   
Wednesday, 04 May 2011 04:44
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Legends of the Sport: Denny Brauer
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Brauer Moments
Anyone who has competed and won at the highest level of sport leaves behind a body of work through photos and film, and Brauer is no different. Some of the sport’s most vivid memories involve Brauer’s shining moments.

From the 7-pound fish he caught on the final day of the 1998 Bassmaster Classic, a fish that all but closed out his victory. “In the end, I didn’t need that fish to win, because I ended up winning by almost 10 pounds, but I didn’t know that at the time. I can play that fish back in my mind from strike to landing, and it still gives me chills,” he revealed.

History can also point to his dominating performance in winning the 2006 Elite Series Champions Choice event on Lake Champlain. At 57 years old, when the young men were supposed to dominate in a young man’s circuit that he was supposed to be too tired and too old to win on; he did. To make it more appropriate, when the fishing pundits were talking about smallmouth dominating the New York State fishery, Brauer grabbed his flipping stick and took advantage of the high water.


“Things just lined up at Champlain, and I was able to make two spots last for the event, an offshore ledge where I got my first day weight and a limit the second day, then I went to the reed patch,” he said. “There was a stretch of reeds that was 50 yards wide by 50 yards deep with water all the way back, and I was able to work the edges with my Strike King signature Denny Brauer Premier Pro Model Jig and Denny Brauer Chunk enough to take a lead, and then really go after them on the final day.”

“I can’t recall having a more fun tournament,” he said. “I caught upwards of 100 fish in that event, some of them back in the reeds more than 20 yards, and I only lost one fish; it was an amazing event.” He won by nearly eight pounds.

With all of the moments that make up the Denny Brauer portfolio in mind, the Classic trophy, the Anglers of the Year titles, the millions of dollars won, one moment is forever captured in time and it sums up Brauer’s workmanlike approach to tournament fishing.

It was in his winning performance at the 1992 Bassmaster Megabucks event, the biggest available payday in the sport at the time. Megabucks was special, featuring a rotating, format for the finals, where anglers fished the holes for 50-minute periods before rotating. Late on the final day, as Brauer approached a dock many of his competitors had targeted that day, he flipped his trademark black and blue jig under the cover.

As the strike occurred, Brauer snapped his flipping stick back with an authoritative hookset, pulling the fish from the dock into open water. The fish, nearly six pounds, burst from the cover and broke the surface of the water, going airborne several times with the afternoon sun behind it. The resultant images were of a backlit, glowing ball of fire with water bursting from the scales of the angry monster. The backlighting had an effect of making it appear as showers of sparks that were exploding around its struggling, fighting body.

As the winning fish neared the side of his boat, Brauer knelt to the deck of his Ranger to grapple with the surging behemoth, and clamping onto her jaw he hoisted her over the gunnels, into the boat. With the daylight and the docks behind him, he turned to face the camera, then pursed his lips into a smile and merely pumped his fist once, like a hammer dropping on a nail.

“I suppose I would like to be remembered as a guy who did it right,” Brauer said in closing. “Both on and off the water, I fished fair, I fished hard, I treated people fairly, just as I would want to be treated, that I did it right; in business, in relationships and on the water, I did it right.”

In that Megabucks made for T.V. moment, without much fanfare, Brauer presented the fishing world with the perfect exclamation point to a career that had yet to reach its crescendo. He won Megabucks by a mere six ounces that day, and he did it his way, for him, the right way, with composure, and a flipping stick in hand. In workman like fashion, the skills of an expert craftsman on display, with poise and control, he placed his seal on the moment; Denny Brauer, Champion, Legend of the Sport.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 May 2011 05:18

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