Larry Nixon Talks About His First Year on the Bassmaster Tour

Larry Nixon talks about his first year on the Bassmaster Tour - 1977. Photo Brenda Serrano.

Larry Nixon talks about his first year on the Bassmaster Tour – 1977. Photo Brenda Serrano.

In a recent edition of Season at a Glance here on the Bass Fishing Archives, we talked about Larry Nixon’s rookie year on the Bassmaster Trail – 1977. That year Nixon finished in 7th place for the AOY standings and placed in the top 10 in three regular-season events. He would have won Rookie of the Year hands down if B.A.S.S. had had the award at the time. [Read more…]

Jay Yelas – Domination of the West in 1988

Jay Yelas in 1988, his rookie year of competitive bass fishing. Yelas would go on to win two AOY awards in the 88/89 season and cement himself in the professional bass angling world. Photo Novcember/December 1988 issue of Bass Fishing Magazine. Matt Vincent Author/Photographer.

Jay Yelas in 1988. Photo Nov/Dec 1988 issue of Bass Fishing Magazine. Matt Vincent Author/Photographer.

In 1987 Jay Yelas was a recent college graduate with little tournament experience under his belt. The fact is, though, by the end of 1988, he was not only an experienced tournament angler, he was an experienced winner.

His first big-time event took place in the summer of 1987 – the U.S. Bass U.S. Open held on Lake Mead. In that tournament he finished in 6th place and that launched his career. In the next 18 months he’d chock up five wins on four different western impoundments – including the 1988 Operation Bass Championship – and win two different Angler of the Year awards. Not too bad for a rookie.

I remember anglers coming into the shop at that time, the big sticks of the west, talking about this new kid who ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and slept in his van at the lakes for months on end. “He just showed up out of nowhere and now he’s taking our money,” they’d say. It wasn’t long after the name Jay Yelas became a standard in the southwestern tournament scene. [Read more…]

Kevin Hawk – From Trout to Tournaments

Kevin Hawk ICAST 2014. Photo Brenda Serrano.

Kevin Hawk ICAST 2014. Photo Brenda Serrano.

Elite Series angler Kevin Hawk got his start fishing with his father and brother for trout in the local San Diego lakes. By chance his father also had some friends that bass fished – they took him and he was hooked.

Hawk’s teenage years were spent fishing local waters and events until he started climbing up through the ranks fishing local team events through the western Strens. His qualification into the 2009 FLW Cup as the last angler would change his life. [Read more…]

Shaw Grigsby Jr. – From Motorcycles to Bass Fishing

Shaw Grigsby Jr. ICAST 2014. Photo Brenda Serrano.

Shaw Grigsby Jr. ICAST 2014. Photo Brenda Serrano.

Shaw Grigsby Jr.’s been a stalwart on the Bassmaster scene since 1977 but did you know that he started because he didn’t have a motorcycle race one weekend? Prior to that weekend he’d fished about once a month with his father but his primary hobby at the time was motorcycle racing.

Well, after Grigsby fished his first event with a close friend, his hobby soon changed. [Read more…]

How They Began – John Murray

John Murray holds one of his numerous western trophies after winning yet another western event. Photo courtesy of Bill Rice.

John Murray holds one of his numerous western trophies after winning yet another western event. Photo courtesy of Bill Rice.

To folks east of the Mississippi the name John Murray probably rings a bell as an angler who came out east in the late 90s with anglers such as Skeet Reese, Aaron Martens and Byron Velvick. They know he’s won a couple events, generally makes the Classic and probably also know him as a better deep-water angler who’s always in contention when the tour travels to the northern-tier lakes or southern highland impoundments such as Smith Lake. This is all correct but there’s actually a lot more to John Murray than those stats.

In all actuality, Murray’s been fishing professionally since 1985 when his early mentor Art Price told him to leave the tackle shop he was working at. Since then he’s won 31 boats, fished 7 Bassmaster Classics and won the U.S. Open on Lake Mead twice. He’s fished every major tournament trail and a number of regional trails over the course of his 29-year career and overall he’s won nearly $2-million dollars casting for cash. Yes, he’s been around a while. [Read more…]

The Fishin’ Machine

Ricky Green holds his second 1st-place Bassmaster trophy from his win on Sam Rayburn in 1974. Photo May/June 1974 issue of  Bassmaster Magazine.

Ricky Green holds his second 1st-place Bassmaster trophy from his win on Sam Rayburn in 1974. Photo May/June 1974 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

In 1985 one of the most-respected boat companies came out with a new-concept boat that rocked the bass boat industry. The boat had all the amenities needed for high-level competition. They were fast, offered a passenger rod trough, rod locker ventilation and a console that looked more like it should be in an F-16 than a boat. The boat was the Cajun Ricky Green Fishin’ Machine.

By 1985 Ricky Green had been fishing as a full-time professional for a dozen years. He fished his first tournament at the age of 24 – the 1968 Arkansas State Championship at Greers Ferry – and won it. In that event he met Jimmy Houston, Larry Nixon and Jerry McKinnis. [Read more…]

More on KVD’s 1992 AOY

Photo July/August 1992 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Photo July/August 1992 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Last week we talked about Kevin VanDam’s 1992 Bassmaster AOY award and about his meteoric rise from nowhere between 1990 and 1991. Well this weekend we found a 1992 The Bassmasters TV show from the same era, featuring then newly crowned 1992 Bassmaster Angler of the Year, Kevin VanDam. [Read more…]

The New Kid on the Boat

Photo July/August 1992 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Photo July/August 1992 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Kevin VanDam made his initial appearance on the Bassmaster Trail in 1987 fishing the New York Invitational on the St. Lawrence River where he finished a dismal 110th out of 311 anglers. He then fished an event in ’88 and placed 19th, another in ’89 finishing 39th and also the last event of the 1989/90 season at Guntersville where he placed 39th.

A spark must have gone off for him in those last three events as he upped his ante for the 1990/91 season and competed in all the Invitational events. The outcome that year was six top-50s, three top-20s, and two top-3s in six events where the average turnout averaged over 300 anglers. To top that off, he led the 1990/91 Classic qualification for the Invitationals, beating out veteran pro Guy Eaker by a little over 11 pounds. Pretty impressive for a first-year rookie. [Read more…]

The Making of Stars – The Hibdons

The 1978 BCA Lake of the Ozarks Top 5. Guido Hibdon (winner) and Basil Bacon (3rd-place). Photo November/December issue of BCA The Lunker Hole.

The 1978 BCA Lake of the Ozarks Top 5. Guido Hibdon (winner) and Basil Bacon (3rd-place). Photo November/December issue of BCA The Lunker Hole.

Earlier this week I posted a piece where I credited a friend of mine, Clyde Drury with sending me some magazines. In that piece I talked about him sending me some Bass Caster’s Association magazines called ‘the Lunker Hole.” In a previously written piece here I’d also mentioned the magazine and asked if anyone here had ever heard of or even had subscribed.

Well, Clyde was kind enough to send me a year’s worth of them and so far they’ve turned out to be pretty cool. Right now I have the November/December 1978 through November/December 1979 issues – seven in all – and we’ll be featuring a number of pieces from them in the near future.

In the meantime I’d like to share with you a couple of pictures I found in the Lake of the Ozarks tournament report from the Nov/Dec 1978 issue. [Read more…]

The Youngest of the Young Guns

2012 Forrest Wood Cup winner, Jacob Wheeler, age 21

Anybody that follows tournament bass fishing has, by now, heard that 21 year old Jacob Wheeler of Indianapolis, IN won the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Sidney Lanier just a couple weeks back. With the win, he set all kinds of records, including being the only angler in history, as well as the youngest, to win both the BFL All-American (age 20) and the Forrest Wood Cup (age 21).

However, Wheeler, who will turn 22 on September 18th this year, isn’t the youngest world champion (to win either the Forrest Wood Cup or the Bassmaster Classic). There was one angler younger.

Can you guess who that other angler is? [Read more…]

Breaking Though – OT Fears

Photo Bassmaster.com

“Breaking Through” is an occasional series on BFA in which long-time professional bass anglers recount the details of their first major win – how they accomplished the victory and how it impacted their careers. This entry chronicles the 25th anniversary of the first major victory for Oklahoma pro OT Fears III, with present-day input from Fears.

 

While the Red Man All-American tournament (known today as the BFL All-American) is now an established national level tournament, in 1987 it was still a relatively new enterprise. One thing about it, though – despite having first been held in 1983, it was a potential kingmaker, as the $100,000 top prize was double what was awarded to that year’s Bassmaster Classic champion. [Read more…]

Breaking Though – Randy Blaukat

Photo FLW Outdoors

“Breaking Through” will be an occasional series on BFA in which long-time professional bass anglers recount the details of their first major win – how they accomplished the victory and how it impacted their careers. Missouri pro Randy Blaukat is our first featured angler.

 

By the time October of 1989 rolled around, Randy Blaukat was just shy of his 28th birthday. He’d fished 33 B.A.S.S. events, including the 1986 Bassmaster Classic on the Tennessee River out of Chattanooga. He had not yet tasted victory, and in fact only had one Top Ten finish to his credit, a 7th place finish at the 1987 Alabama Invitational on Lake Guntersville.

There was no reason to favor Blaukat at Buggs Island (a 40,000 acre lake on the Virginia/North Carolina border, also known as Kerr Reservoir). “I’d never been there before,” he recalled recently. “When I got there, the water was up in the bushes but it was falling pretty hard. I could catch some fish on the lower end of the lake fishing willow trees, but it was getting tougher and tougher. [Read more…]