Western Bass Patches

The original mid-'70s Western Bass Fishing Association patch.

The original mid-’70s Western Bass Fishing Association patch.

A little over a year ago we did a short piece on the patches of western bass organizations. In that story we looked at two patches from the original western organizations, Western Bass Fishing Association and the Southwest Association of Bass Champions, that started in the early ‘70s along with the organization that bought and consolidated the two previous organizations, U.S. Bass. In this piece, thanks for Bass Fishing Hall of Fame inductee, Bill Rice, we have a more complete set of patches to share.

A little history before we start, though. Western Bass Fishing Association started in April, 1973 in order to bring competitive bass fishing to western anglers. The organization was based out of southern California and operated by Western Outdoor News. Not too long after that, the Southwest Association of Bass Champions (SWAB) was started in Arizona. [Read more…]

Don Iovino – Western Doodle King

Don Iovino Bassmaster Classic XLV. Photo/Video Brenda Serrano.

Don Iovino Bassmaster Classic XLV. Photo/Video Brenda Serrano.

Not many people outside of the west know about Don Iovino – but you should. Iovino may not have been the angler who invented finesse fishing but in the west he was the guy who was the major proponent of light-line fishing and the use of electronics. Iovino was the guy who wasn’t just talking about fishing in deep water – and folks in the south, we considered deep water anything over 45 feet – but also fishing with lines as light as 6-pound test. [Read more…]

Looking for Operation Bass Golden Blend Info

Golden Blend was a title sponsor for Operation Bass' attempt to give B.A.S.S. some competition. Unfortunately the circuit didn't last long and there's little information out there regarding it.

Golden Blend was a title sponsor for Operation Bass’ attempt to give B.A.S.S. some competition. Unfortunately the circuit didn’t last long and there’s little information out there regarding it.

Many modern fans of professional fishing assume that the FLW Tour was the first major competitor to B.A.S.S. Of course, that is not quite correct – over time, there were several national trails that tried to make a run at being the dominant circuit, or at least supplementing it. The truth is that the FLW Tour, founded under the Operation Bass umbrella, wasn’t even the first attempt by that organization to create some competition for Ray Scott’s baby.

Starting in the late 1980s, and running into the early ‘90s, Operation Bass operated the Golden Blend series of tournaments. They built upon the success of the original Red Man events, which catered to the “working man” – one-day weekend tournaments with low entry fees and a chance to qualify for the high payout All-American. [Read more…]

Don “The Doodle King” Iovino – An Era Ends

Don Iovino weighs one of the last fish of his 40-year tournament career at this year's WON Bass U.S. Open. Photo Don Iovino.

Don Iovino weighs one of the last fish of his 40-year tournament career at this year’s WON Bass U.S. Open. Photo Dan O’Sullivan.

The first time I met Don Iovino was in 1978 at a seminar at a tackle shop called Anglers West in Diamond Bar California – I was all of 14 years old and wanted to learn everything I could about bass fishing.

In those days you couldn’t open a Western Outdoor News, Western Bass magazine or SWAB periodical without seeing Iovino’s name within its confines. He was winning or placing high in nearly every event he entered and doing it in a most unorthodox manner – some new thing he’d developed called doodling. [Read more…]

West vs. East

Western Legend Don Iovino graces the cover of the 1995 September/October issue of Bass West Magazine. 1995 was the first year of publication and this was Volume 1 Number 4.

Western Legend Don Iovino graces the cover of the 1995 September/October issue of Bass West Magazine. 1995 was the first year of publication and this was Volume 1 Number 4.

There’s always been a rivalry between the Western U.S. and the Eastern U.S. when it comes to bass fishing. It’s just a plain hard fact of the sport. Having grown up in the Western U.S. and lived there for nearly 50 years, I experienced it firsthand. It was like nothing “bass fishing” existed east of Oklahoma. Yeah, there were the freak fish caught by David Zimmerlee and Ray Easley in 1973 and 1981 and there was Dee Thomas, Gary Klein and Dave Gliebe who ventured back to the cradle of bass fishing and made names for themselves – but they too were freaks of sort – making an imprint on the scene with heavy line and big rods.

Talk to anyone in the East between the late 1970s and 1990s about Western bass fishing and I’m sure they would say one of two things: 1) They have bass in the West? or 2) They fish with sissy rods and 6-pound line. [Read more…]

Don Doty – A Classic Qualification from the Back Seat

Photo January/February 1981 issue of Western Bass magazine.

Photo January/February 1981 issue of Western Bass magazine.

To many of you here reading this, the name Don Doty won’t mean much at all. In fact, his name hasn’t been associated with the sport since the late 80s. Even though his name is only recognized by a few older western anglers and maybe a few of the older Bassmaster pros, he will always be remembered for a record he holds that will never be broken.

Don Doty is the only angler to qualify for a Bassmaster Classic as a pure non-boater.

In the old days, when pro-on-pro draw tournaments existed, many times when the draw for partners happened, both anglers had a boat. There were a few methods in which the two anglers decided which boat would be used. For example, if one angler could convince the other he had better fish going, they might opt to use that anglers’ boat. Another method was, if you drew Roland Martin, Jimmy Houston or Ricky Green, there was no argument, you fished out of their boat. The other method was a coin toss. [Read more…]

San Vicente – Then, Now and the Future

Target For Lunker Hunters by Chuck Garrison. Spring 1977 issue of Western Bass magazine.

Target For Lunker Hunters by Chuck Garrison page one. Spring 1977 issue of Western Bass magazine.

If you’ve followed the southern California bass scene since the 70s, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of Lake San Vicente – simply called San V by locals. Recently I was reading a 1977 issue of Western Bass magazine and came across an old article penned by the late Chuck Garrison about the famed lake. It brought back memories, but it also brought to mind what could be brewing in the near future. I’ve included the article in full here for all to read in order to give you an idea of what a lake it was in its early days. It’s possible that we could see a resurrection of sorts as this old lake gets a face lift. You’ll see why as you read more.

While San Diego lakes such as Miramar and Lower Otay made national headlines in the early ‘70s, it was San V that stole the limelight in the mid to late ‘70s with an onslaught of teeners caught by lunker hunters such as “Lunker” Bill Murphy and Bobby Sandberg. [Read more…]

CLC 1 – May 1974

The first issue of only four issues printed of the California Lunker Club Newsletter. May, 1974. With full permission.

The first issue of only four issues printed of the California Lunker Club Newsletter. May, 1974. With full permission.

We’ve posted a few stories (here and here) in the past about the California Lunker Club and its meager beginnings in 1971 to offer California bass anglers an insurance policy to mount a fish. Not long after that founder Dave Coolidge expanded the CLC into a tournament organization, the first in California, in order to bring like-minded bass anglers together. The concept was friendly competition and also provide a forum to learn from each other and make friends.

The concept took hold and within a couple years the organization grew to a point that Coolidge couldn’t afford it anymore. That’s when Western Bass, formed in 1973, stepped up and took CLC off of Coolidge’s hands. [Read more…]

It’s Called Crispin’

Jimmy Crisp with two of the fish that helped him beat Larry Nixon in the 1983 Western Bass $100,000 Invitational on Table Rock Lake. Photo November 1983 issue of Pro Bass.

Jimmy Crisp with two of the fish that helped him beat Larry Nixon in the 1983 Western Bass $100,000 Invitational on Table Rock Lake. Photo November 1983 issue of Pro Bass.

Rapala has long been associated with bass fishing ever since Lauri Rapala’s creations made it from Finland to the United States in the ‘50s. The Original Floating Rapala would continue to be one of the most popular baits until it started losing favor with anglers as different lure manufacturers popped up and newer baits, including Rapala’s Fat Rap, took over shelf space.

By the early 1980s the Floating Rapala still sold but sales were down a fraction what they’d been in the decades prior. Then one angler changed all that with one win – a big win – in the summer of 1983 on famed Table Rock Lake, MO.

That angler not only breathed life back into the Floating Rapala, he arguably brought to light a new technique and what is still considered today one of the most important methods in fishing – jerkbaiting. [Read more…]

Western Bass Tournament of Champions 1976

Page One Notes: (1) The Supersport worm mentioned by Burnett was actually a Sportsman's Super Floater. Western anglers used to cut the 4-inch and 6-inch worms from the egg sack to the tail and then weld in a piece of worm to keep the legs apart. (2) The "Mattie" written about was more than likely a jighead poured by Gardner, the mold, which was made by Larry McCain who has been written about here. The jig was essentially a skirted jighead with a spinner tailing off the end of the skirt. It was used for fishing ledges and points as a fall bait.

Dee Thomas accepts the 1976 WBFA TOC Trophy for 1st place and the keys to his new Terry ABF 15. Western Bass Spring 1977 issue.

I was going through the Spring 1977 issue of Western Bass magazine a couple of weeks ago and this article penned by Ben Burnett caught my eye. What initially got me interested was the picture of Dee Thomas and Terry Boats rep J.C. Dillard. Reading further, it was actually Dillard handing Dee the trophy and turning over the keys to his newly-won Terry ABF 15 bass boat from the Western Bass Fishing Association’s (WBFA) Tournament of Champions. The title of the piece, “Ridin’ With The Champions,” gave me more reason to read on.

As I read, it became apparent that Burnett had been invited as a guest writer/observer to the event. Not only that, WBFA director Harvey Naslund had placed him with two of the best anglers of the time, Dee Thomas and Pete Gardner. Between the two anglers, they’d won the 1974 and ’75 TOCs – Thomas winning in ’74 and Gardner in ’75. The ’76 event Thomas would take his second win in the coveted western event. [Read more…]

Yoga Pants Great – Not on Kent Brown

Kent Brown in a way you never wanted to see Kent Brown. All dressed up in the Motion Capture Spandex. Photo Kent Brown.

Kent Brown in a way you never wanted to see Kent Brown. All dressed up in the Motion Capture Spandex. Photo Kent Brown.

If you’ve been part of the western bass fishing scene since the 80s, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of Kent Brown. He’s been a staple on the western tournament circuits nearly since they began and because of that, he’s a wealth of knowledge when it comes to western history. Although I consider myself pretty good at the history of the west, my knowledge lacks a bit when it comes to what happened in northern California – Brown lived not only the northern scene, he lived it all.

So, last week I was on travel for my day job and happened to be in his neighborhood. After work I went over to his house and hung out for a while – talking old times and bass fishing history as it pertains to the Left Coast.

When I got to Brown’s house, on the kitchen island he had a couple of stacks of goodies he wanted to show me. One of these goodies was none other than the first contemporary bass fishing video game – Championship Bass by EA Sports. [Read more…]

A Follow Up on Flipping and Living Rubber Jigs

The Brawley Bass Bug, one of the earliest living rubber jigs on the market

The Brawley Bass Bug, one of the earliest living rubber jigs on the market

I recently added a lot more magazines to my bass fishing library, and as I’m going through them, I’m coming across some great historical articles. One of those I just read was in the April-May 1977 In’Fisherman magazine. The article is titled “Seek the thickest cover…Dave Gliebe’s Frontal Tactics for Largemouth On Hill-Land Reservoirs.” The story covers more than a dozen pages, documenting what are largely “the basics” of flipping, though they refer to what Gliebe was doing as “‘lever jigging’…an outgrowth of a widely used California system called ‘flipping,’ which itself is a variation of the old ‘doodle-socking’ (vertical jigging) system.”. [Read more…]