Archives for May 2012

Season at a Glance: Bass Master Trail 1973 – Part One

1973 BASS Tournament Entry Form. Photo from the May/June 1973 issue of Bass Master Magazine.

This is part one of a three-part series on the 1973 Bass Master Tournament trail. Part One will cover the first half of the season, Part Two will cover the second half and Part Three will cover the 1973 Bass Master Classic.


The 1973 B.A.S.S. tournament schedule was released in early 1973 and was touted by Ray Scott as, “(T)he greatest in history.” Scott “deliberately set” the February event on the St. John’s River in Florida in order to produce big bags and hopefully break the current B.A.S.S. all-time big bass weight of 9-09.

The season was also scheduled around the hot summer months in order to promote the live-release of fish, something that Scott was adamant about. In the year prior, Scott had implemented the Don’t Kill Your Catch mantra to the world of bass fishing and had had a “bad event” at Ross Barnett where nearly all bass had died due to heat and the fact there was a “problem” with the Mississippi Fish and Game Commissioner. For those interested in reading about that story, see Ray Scott’s book, Bass Boss, pages 164-66 [Read more…]

Ultimate Match Fishing – In the 80s?

1982 Challenge Match Fishing schedule. Taken from the Nov/Dec 1981 issue of Western Bass Magazine.

In 2005, FLW Tour pro Joe Thomas started what has easily become one of the most-watched television shows in the history of competitive fishing – Ultimate Match Fishing. The show, pits 12 professional anglers from each of the major tours, the BASS Elite Series and the FLW Tour, against each other in a single-elimination format. Once the first elimination round is completed, the six remaining anglers are sent to the quarter finals where three pros advance on their merits and one wildcard is announced. These four anglers then participate in the semi-finals and the two winning anglers are then paired to the championship match.

UMF is seen by all, the viewers and the competitors, as some of the purest fishing there is. There are four 90-minute quarters and each angler gets control of the boat for two quarters. Prior to the match, a coin toss determines who will get boat control in what quarters. There are also penalties associated with casting in the other angler’s territory. Anglers are made to think both offensively and defensively.

Anyway, we’ve all seen the show so there’s no need to belabor it anymore.

So, what if I told you this concept wasn’t new? What if I told you it was originally conceived in the late 70s and actually ran on TV in the early 80s? Well, that’s what I’m telling you. [Read more…]

Lew Childre – It’s All About Speed

Lew’s Speed Merchant ad. Note the company name, Lew Childre & Sanders – not Lew Childre & Sons. 1973 Bassmaster Magazine Fishing Annual.

I was reading through the 1973 Bass Master Fishing Annual and came across an article that piqued my interest about Lew Childre. Of course he’s primarily known for the Speed Spool but he also developed a line of rods, known as the Speed Stick, that was very popular in the 70s and 80s.

This article, though, was about a product I’d never seen in full – the Speed Stick concept. Evidently Lew’s mind never stopped working. He was dissatisfied with the way rods were built and the fact that custom rods took a long time to make. He also felt there had to be something better with respect to rod guides than the heavy carboloy, agate and stainless guides that were put on rods of the day. [Read more…]

Trolling Motors of the Past – Part Three

Although there are still anglers who prefer the hand-steered trolling motor on the front of their bass boat (why I don’t know) foot-controlled motors have become the norm on nearly all bass boats. The reason for this is obvious. The foot pedal frees your hands to do what they were intended to do – fish.

In the early 60s, G. H. Harris of Mississippi decided he wanted to fish more than steer his troller. Well versed in the field of electronics, he fashioned the first foot-controlled trolling motor and called it the Guide-Rite. Harris then struck a deal with Herschede Hall Clock Company to make and distribute the new trolling motor.

Then in the late 60s, the name of the motor was changed to MotorGuide and has become one of only two main brands of trolling motors available today. [Read more…]

A Look in the Western Rear View Mirror

Don Crozier hoists his winning fish from a 14-foot aluminum boat he used in the tournament. Photo courtesy of Dave Coolidge CLC magazine 1974.

Although the South Eastern part of the country had had organized bass tournaments since the mid-60s, the Western part of the country, namely California, fell a little behind the curve. This was mostly due to the fact that the state had made it illegal to fish for more than a couple-hundred dollars and the fishermen at the time were not interested in leaving the confines of their clubs – or zip codes.

The California Lunker Club (CLC) changed all of that, though, in 1972. As written before (see The California Lunker Club: Dave Coolidge – Part One and Part Two), Coolidge formed the first organized tournament organization in California and within 2 years it became such a success that it was purchased by Western Outdoor News and assumed into the newly-formed Western Bass Fishing Association. Competitive bass fishing had made its mark in the West. [Read more…]

Old Bass Boats – Reader Submissions

Rich Zaleski powering down the Charles River in Boston in his 1971 Terry Bass Boat. Photo courtesy of Rich Zaleski.

Well, the 1970 Bass Boat post today received a bit of traffic to say the least.  First person to submit something was Rich Zaleski, yes the writer RichZ who frequently posts on the site, with his 1971 vintage Terry Bass Boat. The picture shown here is taken from the 1976 NABA (Rich can you fill us in on what NABA stands for?) Tournament of Champions on the Charles River in Boston. Notice the stick steering and the anchor off the bow of the boat. Rich said he bought the boat in April of ’73 for $975. It came with boat/motor/trailer and didn’t have any electric motor of sounder on it. He put a Shakespeare troller on the front and a Shakespeare  finder on it too. He sold it in ’78 for $1300! [Read more…]

Old Boat Ads – 1970

1970 Kingfisher Boat ad.

Over the course of time bass boat technology has been one of the biggest aids to the way we fish. Gone are the days of wood stringers and transoms, decks are now flat and we no longer have livewells located in the front of the boat.

Although the boat manufacturers came up with a lot of advances, it was the anglers themselves that developed improvements in the boats. For example, the Flipping Deck was a result of someone wanting to be higher in the boat in order to be in better position for the cast. The outlawing of bladder tanks (extra fuel tanks stored on the deck between the rod lockers that would collapse as the fuel was consumed) gave rise to larger stock fuel tanks. Rod straps replaced rod holders on the decks of boats and anglers also built enclosed dry storage between rod lockers and in front of the driver’s console giving them not only more dry storage but the advent of the full front deck. [Read more…]

Graphite Rods: From Aerospace to Bass Fishing

An early 1974 picture of a Fenwick HMG rod – possibly a prototype due to the handwritten model number on the rod. Photo Bass Master Magazine Mar/Apr 1974.

Most people in the fishing industry know Larry Hopper as one of the toughest anglers the west has ever produced. He’s won a number of western events over his 35-year career, including the U.S. Open on Lake Mead in 1987. What most people don’t realize is Hopper was instrumental in the development of the graphite rod. Because of this, I felt it was important to interview him on this advancement in fishing technology. Here’s the story.

Many of today’s anglers take for granted one of the most important pieces of equipment in their arsenal – the graphite rod. In fact, I’d be willing to bet a bag of Senkos that most anglers today don’t remember the days when your choices of rod materials were bamboo, fiberglass, beryllium and steel – with fiberglass being the number-one choice.

I even venture to say, and this might be going out on a limb here, that a lot of the younger anglers didn’t realize when fiberglass came back on the market in the early 2000s as a crank- and jerkbait-rod material that they thought it was a new concept in fishing. Like I said, maybe I’m stretching it here folks, but there are younger anglers I’ve talked to who had no idea. [Read more…]

Scorecard Snapshot – Caught Looking


The 2006 Elite Series event on Santee Cooper was a slugfest in every sense of the word – Preston Clark won with a then-record 115-15, beating the “unbeatable” 108+ that Dean Rojas had caught at Toho in 2001. Of course, Clark’s record was passed by Steve Kennedy in 2007 at Clear Lake, and Kennedy in turn was passed by Paul Elias in 2008 at Falcon. A total of six anglers topped the century mark at Santee, and only one angler in the top 12 failed to hit the 90 pound mark.

Records in individual tournaments are of course important, but as many pros will tell you the Angler of the Year race is the one that matters most. This tournament outcome had a substantial impact on the 2006 AOY race.

Can you guess why? [Read more…]

The Creature wasn’t from the Black Lagoon – or any other company

It’s been shown a few times here in the Bass Fishing Archives, and will be shown even more in the future, that what one person believes is new is just a rekindled thought of something old. Take for example the article posted on 4/20/2012 about the Whopper Stopper Dirty Bird. Well, here’s another example of something developed way-back-when that was reborn in the mid-90s not only with the same concept, but the same name for a genre of baits.

Scanning through the 1981 Jan/Feb issue of Western Bass Magazine I came across something that really jogged my memory – an article by soft-plastic jig inventor Bobby Garland. The piece was written by Garland in order to help readers learn more about his jig-fishing techniques and also show some of the secrets he employed while on the water. [Read more…]

Necessity is the Mother of Broken Rods

Many a bass boat was equipped with this Fo-Mac rod-holder system back in the day.

Remember back in the day, before full casting decks, when we rigged rod holders along the side of the boat? Most astute bass anglers had a set of Fo-Mac rod holders (some two sets) located in their boat that would hold up to three rods per set. The rod holders supposedly kept the rods from banging around on the bottom of the boat and kept them at the ready should you need to pick up that topwater rod for a breaking fish.

The problem with these rod holders was the part that held the tip was too tight for quick release and many a rod was broken in the process of either securing or retrieving a rod from the rack. [Read more…]

Bass Master Classic II – Railcars and String Busters

Last time I told you a couple of stories about the first Bass Master Classic held at Lake Mead in Nevada. Now, I’ll let you know about a couple of things that happened during and shortly after the second Classic. I hope you enjoy the story.

The second Bass Master Classic was to be held on Percy Priest Reservoir near Nashville, TN. Before we could commit, though, we had to see if Nashville was interested in holding the event. We called the Chamber of Commerce and they were definitely interested. At this point we had an event location now they had to commit to total secrecy as the second Classic, too, would be a secret until the last minute.

Once Nashville committed to both the location and to secrecy, we arranged a trip for me to head over and meet with our contact to look at the launch, pick out a host hotel and try to find a warehouse in order to rig the boats and store them out of sight.

Ranger Boats was back in business and would be the official Classic boat. But there was a problem – we had two Classic contenders that were from Nashville and we had to make sure they didn’t get wind we were going there. [Read more…]