Monday Trivia – Nixon up North (June 8, 2015)

Nixon 1999 from fishingwithnixondotcomFrom the start of his Bassmaster career in 1977 through his victory in the 1992 Bassmaster 25th Anniversary tournament on Beaver Lake, Larry Nixon won 13 tournaments, an average of nearly one a year. Included among that group of victories was his 1983 Classic win on the Ohio River and of course four Megabucks trophies. After that, however, he hit a dry spell.

Given Nixon’s incredibly high level of consistency over his career, there were of course some near misses:

  • He finished 2nd to Tommy Biffle at the 1993 Megabucks event on Lake Murray;
  • He finished 2nd to Davy Hite by 13 ounces at the 1996 Top 100 on Neely Henry; and
  • He finished 3rd at the 1999 Classic on the Louisiana Delta, trailing only Hite and the prior year’s champion, Denny Brauer.

[Read more…]

Jigging at Okeechobee

Chris Daniels. Photo FLWOutdoors.com.

Chris Daniels. Photo FLWOutdoors.com.

Today it’s no secret that a jig is a top tool for fishing reed heads and other heavy cover at Florida lakes. It surprised no one that Ish Monroe won the Elite Series event on Okeechobee in 2012 by pitching and flipping. What surprised some people, though is that when the bite got tougher for him on Day Three he put down the punching plastics and picked up a black and blue Medlock Jig, a double-weedguarded leadhead that had become increasingly popular in the Sunshine State. He ended up beating his nearest competitor by nearly 13 pounds.

A year earlier, Florida guide Brandon Medlock had won his first major tournament , a Southeastern EverStart on Okeechobee, fishing that same jig, which is made by his father. As with Monroe, his jig was black and blue. He paired it with a black and blue Zoom Big Salty Chunk. [Read more…]

Lonnie Stanley’s Sam Rayburn History

Famous lure designer and angler, Lonnie Stanley holds a Rayburn pig.

Famous lure designer and angler, Lonnie Stanley holds a Rayburn pig.

Sam Rayburn Reservoir, named for the Texas legislator who was the longest serving Speaker of the House in the history of the United States House of Representatives, was impounded in the mid-1950s, and opened “for business” in 1965. The lake was built for flood control and as a source of hydroelectric power, but it quickly became known for its bass fishing, drawing anglers from long distances who wanted to fish for fun, catch big fish, or participate in tournaments.

The piney woods of East Texas have been blessed with a great many quality tournament venues in addition to Rayburn, including Toledo Bend, Lake Livingston and Lake Conroe, and as a result the region has also produced a huge number of top tournament pros. In addition to the “Hemphill Gang” – which consisted of stars Larry Nixon, Tommy Martin, Harold Allen and John Torian, there were other shining stars including but not limited to David Wharton, Randy Dearman, Randy Fite, Bo Dowden (from across the border in Louisiana), and of course Rick Clunn. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Laissez les bon temps roulez (May 18, 2015)

Kenyon Hill. Photo Bassmaster.com.

Kenyon Hill. Photo Bassmaster.com.

As the son of renowned bass biologist and product inventor Loren Hill, Kenyon Hill may have been destined to pursue a career in tournament fishing. He fished his first B.A.S.S. event in December of 1986 at the age of 22, and since then has qualified for four Bassmaster Classics and has won three events. He continues to fish the Elite Series in 2015. [Read more…]

Not so Bitter Anymore: The 1990 Golden Blend Championship

The cover of the January/February edition of Bass Fishing magazine, the publication of Operation Bass, had Jim Bitter front and center for his Golden Blend Championship win.

The cover of the January/February edition of Bass Fishing magazine, the publication of Operation Bass, had Jim Bitter front and center for his Golden Blend Championship win.

Back in November, we solicited information from readers about the history of the Operation Bass Golden Blend tournament series. We’d put together a basic outline of the circuit’s history, but we had little meat to put on those bones. Thanks to one of our great readers and supporters, Andy Williamson, we have a bit more to add.

In that original article, we mentioned Jim Bitter’s 1990 win on Lake Chickamauga. Specificially, we explained that “[t]he win marked a strong period in Bitter’s career, as he’d won MegaBucks IV on the Harris Chain two years earlier.” Left unsaid was the fact that it came on the heels of what is for many – fairly or unfairly – the defining moment of Bitter’s long career, his failure to win the 1989 Bassmaster Classic. As you may recall, Bitter had the winning fish in his hand, but when he went to re-measure it under the gaze of Tim Tucker’s camera, it slipped from his hand and back into the James River. Hank Parker ended up beating him by two ounces. Gone were not only the lasting glory of a Classic win, but also the $50,000 top prize. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Baldwin’s Havasu Win (May 4, 2015)

Mike Baldwin. Photo Inside Line.

Mike Baldwin. Photo Inside Line.

With B.A.S.S. headed back to Lake Havasu this week for the first time since 2003, it seems like an opportune time to revisit Mike Baldwin’s 1998 Western Invitational win on the Colorado River impoundment. While we’re expecting reasonably solid weights from the Elites, Baldwin’s victory was anything but a slugfest – he weighed in 10 fish for 22-11 to beat out fellow local Larry Locatis by a little bit over 3 pounds. It only took 6-08 to make the money.

Baldwin had landed in fourth place after Day One with 8 pounds, fishing a nail-weighted straight-tailed worm up the river. Heavy wind on Day Two made it difficult to present the lightly-weighted soft plastic properly. His second day partner suggested that they go down lake and crank – a recommendation that may have salvaged his victory as he managed three fish for 6-04, before slamming the door with 8-07 on the third day to close it out. [Read more…]

How Stanley Jigs Was Born

Lonnie Stanley may not have invented the jig, but he sure made it and the spinnerbait much better baits.

Lonnie Stanley may not have invented the jig, but he sure made it and the spinnerbait much better baits.

The jig and pig is certainly not new to bass fishing. Jigs in various forms had been staples in anglers’ tackle boxes for generations before Bo Dowden won Bassmaster Classic X on the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York. Since that time, though, the simple combination of a hook, lead head, skirt and weedguard has been perpetually refined.

Lonnie Stanley, a two-time B.A.S.S. winner and five-time Classic qualifier, was one of the major players in those developments. He started Stanley Jigs in the early 1980s, and while he’s no longer the principal owner of the enterprise, he still works there nearly every day, designing new lures. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Victorious Velvick (April 20, 2015)

Byron Velvick broke the 3-day, 5-fish limit weight record in 2000 on Clear Lake. Photo May/June 2000 issue of Bass West Magazine.

Byron Velvick broke the 3-day, 5-fish limit weight record in 2000 on Clear Lake. Photo May/June 2000 issue of Bass West Magazine.

Fifteen years ago this month, Byron Velvick won the 2000 Bassmaster California Western Invitational on Clear Lake by a margin of more than 11 pounds. It wasn’t like he was beating up on the Little Sisters of the Poor, either, as the three anglers directly behind him were Skeet Reese, Aaron Martens and Brett Hite. Other western/national powers like Dean Rojas (6th) and Ish Monroe (9th), as well as legends like Gary Dobyns (13th) and Mike Folkestad (16th) also made the top 20, but all fell well short of Velvick’s 83-05 total.

Velvick certainly wasn’t a newcomer to the sport, having previously won the 1990 and 1996 U.S. Open Championships, but the Clear Lake victory marked the first of his three B.A.S.S. wins to date. In winning, he also set the B.A.S.S. record for total weight in a three-day, five-fish-limit event. [Read more…]

Catching Up With John Hale

John Hale hoists a big Texas bass.

John Hale hoists a big Texas bass.

Between 1989 and 2002, John Hale fished in 68 Bassmaster events. That time span is a bit deceiving, since all eight events after 1993 took place within a short drive of his Texas home – one on Lake Livingston, one on Toledo Bend and six of them on Sam Rayburn.

During the earlier portion of his career as a professional angler, he’d traveled more extensively fishing not only Invitationals, but also the Top 100 series (one of the forerunners of the modern day Elite Series) and he showed substantial prowess outside of his home region, finishing in the top 20 on 15 occasions. He finished in the top 10 six times, all of them on the east coast – twice in Florida, followed by two in Virginia, and capped off by two in Maryland. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – The Buck Stops Here (April 6, 2015)

Florida guide Buck Durrance.

Florida guide Buck Durrance.

When B.A.S.S. came to Okeechobee for the 1998 Florida Eastern Invitational on Lake Okeechobee, it was the circuit’s first Florida event in nearly seven years, resulting from a tax on tournaments that B.S.S.S. did not care for. When the tax was lifted with respect to fishing tournaments, the organization returned.

Thirty year old Clyde Roland “Buck” Durrance made the most of the opportunity, winning the first B.A.S.S. event he fished, beating runner-up Chip Harrison by over 10 pounds. Harrison may call Indiana home, but he’s a long-time Okeechobee guide and a month later he won an EverStart event on Okeechobee to soothe some of the sting of his second place finish to Durrance. [Read more…]

Happy Birthday to a Twenty Year Old Dieting Deep Diver

Twenty years ago one of the best crankbaits that has ever been developed was born - the Bomber Fat Free Shad.

Twenty years ago one of the best crankbaits that has ever been developed was born – the Bomber Fat Free Shad.

Looking through the old “New Tackle for…” issues of Bassmaster, it quickly becomes clear that few new lures survive the open market for even a couple of years, let alone two decades. Of those that do live to fish another day or another year, many take a long time to gather a meaningful following. In that respect, the Bomber Fat Free Shad is something of an anomaly, a lure that was popular almost from the start, due in no small part to good design, a solid pro-staff and more than a bit of on-the-water advertising. While many of us can still remember its introduction, this year it celebrates its 20th birthday.

In 1994, PRADCO introduced the Pro Autograph Series of hard lures – proven baits that each bore a particular pro’s name and his suggested modifications or special paint schemes. They included the following lures: [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Dopp Delivers (Mar 23, 2015)

Jim Dopp. Photo Bassmaster.

Jim Dopp. Photo Bassmaster.

Jim Dopp finished 13th in the 1999 Bassmaster Central Invitational on Table Rock Lake, and he’d competed in the 1998 Red Man All-American, so he was no rookie when he launched his boat for the 2000 Central Invitational on Table Rock. Indeed, the 48 year-old had fished the Ozarks-region lakes since he was a kid.

If he was nervous, it didn’t show. He was tied for 4th with eventual runner-up Mike McClelland after Day One, but then sacked 14-12 – the heaviest bag of the event – on Day Two to take a lead that he would not relinquish. McClelland made a late charge, but ultimately fell 22 ounces short of victory. He’d won back-to-back Invitationals in 1996, but would not win another B.A.S.S. tournament until the 2005 Open Championship. [Read more…]