FLW Outdoors and its numerous fishing leagues are pretty much the only competition the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society has these days. This wasn’t so back in the early days of tournament bass fishing when you had circuits such as Western Bass Fishing Association (WBFA), U.S. Bass, Project Sports INC (PSI), Bass Caster’s Association (BCA), National Bass Association (NBA) and a bevy of other organizations vying for the professional bass spotlight.
But FLW Outdoors didn’t just appear out of nowhere to give ole’ Ma B.A.S.S. a run for her money. Instead the roots of FLW Outdoors can be traced to an organization called Operation Bass – or better known by many as The Red Man Circuit.
As I’ve stated recently BFA reader and friend Clyde Drury has sent me a number of magazines over the last few months – magazines that I either had as a kid or ones that I’d never heard of due to my western roots. I wasn’t aware of Operation Bass until about the 1985 time frame when they ventured out West and started an Arizona circuit that covered mainly the Colorado River lakes such as Mead, Mohave, Havasu and Powell and we started seeing CAST Magazine in the local shops.
One of those magazines that Clyde sent was the January/February 1984 issue of CAST. The magazine was dedicated almost entirely to the 1983 Red Man All-American Bass Championship held on Kentucky Lake. While skimming through the magazine I found it to be rich with competitive bass fishing history. But what struck me initially was this shot of longtime FLW weighmaster Charlie Evans. I knew Evans had been involved with Operation Bass so it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see him here. What got me was how young he was and, maybe the way he was wearing his hat – a trucker hat with flat brim and canted to the side.
Another thing I noticed about the picture was a certain individual being interviewed. It was none other than perennial bass writer and tournament angler Mark Hicks of Ohio. In the caption it states that Hicks won the Buckeye Division honors for the event proving that Hicks is not just talented with words – he can also managed a fishing rod pretty well too.
Another notable in the adjoining article was the angler who won the Gator Division. It was reported that “a 29 year-old contractor from Gainesville, FL.” That contractor by week, bass pro by weekend was veteran Elite Series angler, Bassmaster Magazine contributor and artist Bernie Schultz.
There is so much cool information in this issue that I’m going to need a bit of time to digest it all and figure out how to present it. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed seeing this blast from the past.