Season at a Glance: 1972 Bassmaster Trail – Part Three

Don Butler looks on as his winning string of fish is weighed. Photo Bassmaster Magazine Jan/Feb 1973 issue.

This is Part Three of a three-part series on the 1972 Bassmaster Tournament Trail. To read Part One, click here and to read Part Two, click here.

The 1972 season ended with Roland Martin placing fourth or higher in all six events of the season and walking away with the ’72 AOY award. All that was left for him to accomplish was to win the 2nd-annual Bass Master Classic.

Again the World Championship of bass fishing would be held at a “mystery lake” somewhere in the country and anglers would only be allowed 10 pounds of tackle.

The previous year’s event at Lake Mead, NV had provided a long flight from Atlanta, GA to the tournament locale for anglers to get in the mindset of fishing the Nevada desert’s stingy waters. This year, though, the anglers would only have a 30-minute flight to get a grasp on the location.

Here are some words, as written by Bob Cobb, from the Jan/Feb issue of Bass Master Magazine regarding the atmosphere on the plane.

“The announcement aboard a ‘mystery flight’ on American Airlines out of Memphis, was greeted with SHOCK! The fizz in the bubbly being served made a louder noise than the two dozen fishermen, who had dreams of a much longer fight than 30 minutes.”

Most anglers thought the event would again be held at some deep, clear western reservoir or maybe even a shallow Florida lake. Instead, Tennessee’s Percy Priest Reservoir was chosen and the five Tennessee locals present were instantly given top billing amongst their competitors.

Ray Scott remarked on why Percy Priest was chosen as the venue and here are his comments.

“We brought the Classic here because Nashville is here. This is the center of the bass fishing universe. More champions have been spawned on Tennessee waters (11 in 32 events) than any state. Last year, we held the Classic in the West. It was only natural that it be returned to this area this year.”

The Tournament

At the time of the second Bassmaster Classic, Percy Priest was only five years old and considered amongst the locals as a tough fishery. To top that off, the weather wasn’t cooperating as the daily temperatures never got above 51 degrees during the event and “buckets” of rain fell the last day.

Don Butler 1972 Bass Master Classic. Photo courtesy of Bill Rice.

Still, Don Butler of Tulsa, Oklahoma found the right combination – although it took him nearly two days to do so. Butler, of Okiebig fame and the first Life Member of B.A.S.S., could only muster two fish the first day and by noon on the second he didn’t have a fish in the well. Thinking, “any move we made had to be an improvement,” he headed into a cove in the Fate Sanders area of the lake. When he got back there, his spirits were lifted.

“As I got in the back of the cove, I saw some fallen brushes and stick-ups, He said. This was too much, it looked just like Eufaula Oklahoma, “Spinnerbait Heaven.” Without any hesitation, I picked up the S.O.B. (Small Okiebug) and for the next two hours had a ball.”

Butler would go on that day to weigh a limit of fish. He duplicated that result the next day in the final round. His winning weight of 38-11 was 13 pounds heavier than second-place angler Ricky Green (15 fish, 25-04) of Arkansas. Green weighed the only other limit (15-02) and was the first-round leader.

Ricky Green and writer Dave Bowring at the ’72 Classic. Photo Bassmaster Magazine Jen/Feb 1973 issue.

Tom Mann (AL) ended the event in third place with 14 fish for 21-02, while Jim Finley (MO) brought 16 to the scales for 21-10, good enough for fourth place. Joe Wilson (AR) rounded out the Top 5 with 15 fish that weighed 19-02.

Although Butler relied primarily on his 1/4-ounce Okiebug blade, he also reported catching some fish on a Big O and Buck-Eye Shad. Green caught his fish on blades and a Cordell Spot.

Stan Sloan with the ’72 Classic’s big fish. Photo Bassmaster Magazine Jan/Feb 1973 issue.

Big fish for the event was caught by Stan Sloan on, you guessed it, a Zorro Aggravator spinnerbait. His big fish netted him $600.

Roland Martin had his streak of cashing in 17 events broken in the winner-take-all event. He finished in 14th place with 6 fish that weighed 11-01.

Also of note is this was the second Classic that was won on a spinnerbait. How long has it been since the spinnerbait made a difference in any tournament? It’s been a while.

In all, 208 fish were weighed for 303-11 with a 93-percent release rate.

The table below shows the final standings for the event.

1972 Bass Master Classic Final Standings - Percy Priest Reservoir
Place
Angler
# Fish
Weight, lbs-oz
1
Don Butler
22
38-11
2
Ricky Green
15
25-04
3
Tom Mann
14
21-02
4
Jim Finley
16
20-10
5
Joe Wilson
15
19-02
6
Doug Howard
9
16-05
7
Stan Sloan
6
15-01
8
B.J. Woods
8
14-15
9
Bill Dance
9
14-04
10
Billy Westmorland
10
13-05
11
George Oates
9
12-10
12
Bobby Murray
10
12-05
13
John Powell
6
11-05
14
Roland Martin
6
11-01
15
Glin Wells
6
10-06
16
Johnny Morris
9
10-04
17
Blake Honeycutt
8
9-15
18
Pete Nosser
3
8-15
19
Ernest Neil
6
5-14
20
Dwight Keefer
5
5-12
21
Ed Todtenbier
2
5-08
22
Gerald Blanchard
2
3-03
23
Carlos Mayo
2
2-13
24
Forrest Wood
2
2-03

 

 

  • Harold Sharp

    I still remember Stan Sloans remarks when Ray announced the BASS Classic would be on Percy Priest Lake in Nashville. Stan, who lived in Nashville said , ” I can’t believe you flew me from Nashville to Memphis for a 30 minute flight back to Nashville”.

    • LOL. That’s good stuff Harold! I bet the other TN guys were a little surprised too!