Your Legacy Will Live On Harold

Harold Sharp B.A.S.S. Tournament Director 1970 to 1986.

Harold Sharp B.A.S.S. Tournament Director 1970 to 1986.

Without fail, it seems every year one of bass fishing’s forefathers passes to the great lake in the sky and the sport is left with a gaping hole. In 2012 we lost Homer Circle and in 2013, Doug Hannon. In January of this year we lost lure giant Cotton Cordell and I was hoping that would be it – there just aren’t many of the old-timers left – and from my selfish perspective, they have so much to offer with respect to the history of our beloved sport.

Then last week, we lost a man who helped change the sport of bass fishing to make it what it is today. That man was Harold Sharp. Yes, Ray Scott gets the credit for starting the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society – that fact will never be argued. And, Ray started the sport the right way, by making sure there was a firm set of rules and that every angler adhered to them. But it was Harold Sharp who, along with Ray Scott, wrote the B.A.S.S. rules, regulations and bylaws, started the B.A.S.S. Chapter (what would eventually become The Federation/Nation) and started the Chattanooga Bass Club – all in the same night. (if you’d like to read the story, click on this link from one of Harold’s columns back from March, 2013) [Read more…]

Classic Patches – 1981 through 1990

1981 Bassmaster Classic Patch.

1981 Bassmaster Classic Patch.

Back in early May we posted a piece about early Bassmaster Classic patches that Stan Fagerstrom had collected over the years – 23 years to be exact. In that first post we went through the first 10 years of Classic patches, 1971 through 1980. The post got a low of views and interest, especially from BFA contributor and supporter, Harold Sharp.

Harold was really interested in the first Classic patch – from Lake Mead 1971. In an email to me the day after the post, Harold asked where Stan had gotten that patch, because he doesn’t remember a patch ever being made and distributed to the anglers and writers. He had me ask Stan if he remembered how he came about the patch. I did so and Stan didn’t remember how he got it, just assuming he got it at the Classic like he had so many other patches over time. The mystery was on. [Read more…]

Lost to History: H.W. Ross

Forest and Stream supposedly had evidence of Ross' giant bass, but when the magazine merged with Field & Stream in 1930 and began publishing a list of world records, Ross was forgotten or ignored.

Forest and Stream supposedly had evidence of Ross’ giant bass, but when the magazine merged with Field & Stream in 1930 and began publishing a list of world records, Ross was forgotten or ignored.

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a great piece for you by Ken Duke on a fish that time and a number of people have forgotten. It was a fish mentioned only briefly one time in James A. Henshall’s book More About the Black Bass, published in 1889. The fish of interest was supposedly caught by an H. W. Ross and weighed in at 23-1/8 pounds a weight that would still be the record. Ken Duke, in his usual fashion, disects what we know of this fish and the man, and brings up more questions than answers. We think you’ll enjoy this very early history of record-class bass.]

“Mr. H.W. Ross, when in Florida, caught, in a ‘clear, deep, lily-bound lake,’ near Altoona, in that state, a large-mouthed Black Bass which, he states, weighed twenty-three and one-eighth pounds, and measured, from tip of nose to tip of tail, thirty-seven and one-half inches, and in girth, twenty-nine and one-half inches. The head of this fish was sent to the office of ‘Forest and Stream,’ in New York, and its dimensions were given by the editor as follows: ‘Its maxillary bone measures four and three-fourths inches; the head is seven and one-half inches from the tip of the upper jaw to the end of the opercle, and the lower jaw projects one inch. The greatest girth of the head is sixteen and one-half inches.”

That passage is from James A. Henshall’s More About the Black Bass, his 1889 sequel to Book of the Black Bass (1881). It is the only reference I’ve seen to H.W. Ross or that fish. [Read more…]

Black Bass Fishing: Robert Page Lincoln – Part Three

Black Bass Fishing CoverBack in late 2014 I started the review of this book, Black Bass Fishing by Robert Page Lincoln and never finished the last part. I want to apologize for that upfront (especially to Bill Sonnett). But now that the book has been glaring at me for nearly six months, I can’t ignore it any longer and today we have Part Three of the review of this must-read book.

Over the course of Part One and Part Two we covered chapters one through 17 along with the Foreword and Introduction. Today we’ll finish with Chapters 18 through 24 and the Appendix. For those of you who missed the first two parts of this book and want to read them (and I highly suggest you do) you can find the posts at the links presented in the first sentence of this paragraph. [Read more…]

Old Bass Boats – 1978 Part 4

1978 Ranger Combined 5For the past week we’ve been taking a trip down memory lane with respect to the main tool in any bass angler’s arsenal – the bass boat. Over the year we’ve covered bass boats from the ’50, ‘60s and the ‘70s. Today we’re going to finish with the boats of 1978.

So far we’ve covered everything from the 1978 list of bass boats from aluminum rigs such as Alumacraft, Dura Craft and Fisher Marine along with their glass counterparts, manufacturers like Bass Cat, Champion, Eldocraft, Hydra-Sport and MonArk. Today we finish with upstarts such as Omni and industry leader Ranger. In fact, the number of Ranger ads placed in 1978 is mind boggling. [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…]

Old Bass Boats – 1978 Part 3

1978 Fisher Marine ad.

1978 Fisher Marine ad.

We’ve been running Old Bass Boats 1978 for the last week and today we’re looking at the 10 manufacturers that make up Part 3 – from Dyna Trak to MonArk. Within this piece are a couple of historical tidbits that you may find interesting with respect to bass boat companies.

Through the course of researching the bass boats of 1978 we scoured over 100 bass fishing magazines from the time period and came up with 33 manufacturers that advertised that year. Some companies only placed one ad in one magazines while others placed multiple ads in multiple magazines. If there was an ad placed that year, you’ll find it here. [Read more…]

Old Bass Boats – 1978 Part 2

1978 FishMaster ad featuring the "18" Pro Bass Missile.

1978 FishMaster ad featuring the “18” Pro Bass Missile.

In Tuesday’s installment of Old Bass Boats (click here to see Part 1), we covered the tournament organization boats, namely American Bass Fisherman, American Angler, Bassmaster, Bass Casters Association and National Bass Association. Out of those five organizations, we covered nine different boats and five different manufacturers. It’s hard to believe that only a couple years before this, there was only one tournament organization, B.A.S.S., who offered its members boats. [Read more…]

Old Bass Boats – 1978 Part 1

1978 Sebring Bass Boat ad.

1978 Sebring Bass Boat ad.

This column seems to be the one most frequented by readers so we’re going to give you more of what you like – Old Bass Boats 1978 style. In Part 1, we’re going to start out with the various tournament organizations’ specialty boats. This phenomena all started with Ray Scott and the 1971 Bassmasterr Classic when he purchased from Rebel 25 identical boats for use by the 24 Classic contenders on Lake Mead. After the event the boats were put up for sale and became another form of income for the fledgling tournament organization. [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…]

Classic Patches – 1971 through 1980

Bassmaster Classic I Patch. Winner Bobby Murray. Venue Lake Mead, NV.

Bassmaster Classic I Patch. Winner Bobby Murray. Venue Lake Mead, NV.

I Travel a lot for my day job, often times more than three weeks a month. The past four months have been especially difficult in that I’ve been on the road for more than 90-percent of that time. You know you travel a lot when you know, by name, flight attendants and hotel concierges – and I seem to know my share of them.

I bring this up for a couple of reasons. First I want to apologize to the readers and supporters of the site for not delivering better pieces – ones that I’ve either promised or need to do. Hopefully my day job will calm down some in the near future and I’ll be able to get back to the historical pieces I’ve had on the back burner for some time now. [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…]