This is Part Three of the three-part series on the 1973 Bass Master Tournament Series. To read Part One click here, to read Part Two click here and to read the ’73 Classic Anglers’ Profiles click here.
The third Bass Master Classic was again another “mystery lake” in the annals of Bass Master Classics. In the previous two events, Ray Scott had waited for the chartered jet to reach 10,000 feet before announcing the destination to the Classic contenders. This flight, though, would be different.
Scott not only waited to tell the contestants, he waited until the flight was almost over and they were flying a circle above Clark’s Hill Reservoir before he made the announcement. Here’s out it went according to Bob Cobb in the January/February issue of Bass Master Magazine.
“We’re going to circle the lake in a minute, anyone see anything familiar? That’s Clark Hill Reservoir…..Junior Collis, we’ve brought you home.”
It was Collis’ first Classic and he’d recently won one of the toughest events in B.A.S.S. history in May at Lake Keowee. Now Scott was taking him to his home lake. He was an obvious favorite right from the start.
Another favorite, though, was Roland Martin who had already won three events in the ’73 season and won the AOY by such a margin the other anglers were fishing for second place with two events left in the season. Many were talking about this being th year Roland would finally do it after three consecutive AOY trophies.
Of the contestants, six were returning for their third Classic appearance. They were, Roland Martin, Tom Mann, Bobby Murray (Classic winner in ’71), Stan Sloan, Don Butler (Classic winner in ’72), and Glin Wells.
After the scales had cleared on the first day, Bobby Murray and Don Butler weighed in only paltry weights of 2-03 and 4-06 respectively. Clark’s Hill was also stingy to its own resident Junior Collis who weighed in 10-07 and left him in 10th place after the first day.
Roland Martin couldn’t even figure the fish out as he weighed only five bass for 7-01 (17th place).
But stalwart Tom Mann figured something out the first day and weighed in a ten-fish limit of 20-09, good enough to capture the lead. Bobby Meador held down the second spot with 15-08 and Rayo Breckenridge was in third with 15-06.
Mann reported to the crowd at the weigh-in that he was catching fish on a number of baits including his Little George tail spin, Mann’s Jelly Worm, a Rebel Humpback and a Norman Little Scooper. Ray Scott’s reply to his admission was, “He must be telling the truth, cause he admits he caught fish on some other plugmaker’s baits.” [January/February 1974 issue Bass Master Magazine]
The second day weigh-in, though, brought a change of the guard. Rayo Breckenridge lept from third place in the standings to first place after weighing in a 24-11 sack. It was not only the biggest of the day but a B.A.S.S. Classic record for a one-day 10-fish limit. His two-day total was 40-01 and he was 10-09 ahead of second place angler Bill Dance who had a total of 29-08.
Breckenridge wasn’t feeling too confident, though. He knew Dance had what it took to come from a deficit and take over the lead on the final day. To compound his worries, fellow competitors Tom Mann and Don Norton were fishing the same area.
The final day turned out to be a nail-bitter for Breckenridge. He would only bring seven fish to the scales that would weigh 12-07. He was one of the first anglers to weigh in so he had to wait it out for the rest of the competitors to come to the scales. His total weighed 52-08.
Finally Dance came to the scales and he had his third limit of the event. Fortunately for Breckenridge, they tipped the scales at 19-06, giving Dance a three-day total of 48-14.
The final standings are shown in the table below.
|Rayo Breckenridge, AR|
|Bill Dance, TN|
|Don Norton, MS|
|Russell Cook, MO|
|Tom Mann, AL|
|Wallace Lea, MO|
|Ernest Neil, MS|
|J. B. Warren, AR|
|Billy Westmorland, TN|
|Johnny Morris, MO|
|Bobby Meador, LA|
|David Lockhart, AL|
|Don Mead, MO|
|Roland Martin, OK|
|Ricky Green, AR|
|Larry Hill, NC|
|Jerry Williams, AR|
|Hugh Massey, KY|
|Andy Williams, AL|
|Bobby Murray, AR|
|Junior Collis, GA|
|Glin Wells, TN|
|Don Butler, OK|
|Stan Sloan, TN|
|Andy Sceurman, OH|
|Wendell Mann, NC|
Breckenridge’s total became the new record weight for a Classic eclipsing Bobby Murray’s 43-11 caught in the first Classic at Lake Mead. Breckenridge also set the bar for the single-day weight record for a Classic.
Bill Dance was the only angler in the field to weigh a 30-fish limit over the course of the event – another Classic record.
Pre-event favorite Roland Martin finished in the 14th spot with 16 fish weighing 22-09. An interesting fact about Martin, though, was he towed in Breckenridge the first day after the eventual winner’s motor wouldn’t start.
This was also the first Classic in which a Federation angler was invited to fish. Wendell Mann was that angler and he ended up weighing one fish for 1-06.
Regarding the area where the event was won, in which Breckenridge and Norton were fishing, Breckenridge said, “Instead of fishing each others’ used water, we came to the gentleman’s agreement to divide the fishing waters.”
Norton had some interesting recollections about the spot and the agreement too. Here’s what he said as written by Bob Cobb in the same issue of Bass Master Magazine.
“Opening day seemed like a convention. Tom Mann was setting in the timber just outside the mouth of Fishing Creek. Roland Martin was searching for keepers near-by. I was trying to get a hawg out of the deep hole in the mouth of the creek next to a moss bed. Rayo was just inside the creek working on the outside bends.
“…. We knew that wouldn’t work, so we worked out our agreement. I’d take the places where I had located bass. He would do the same. BUT one of us would be sure we could be seen from the mouth of the creek at all times, and even run our Super Motor-Guide trolling-motor up to the entrance if necessary to ward off any would be poachers.”
Breckenridge won the event on a number of lures including a silver Whopper Stopper Baby Hellbender, a Cordell Little-O (silver/black), a Norman Little Scooper (silver/black), a 3/8-ounce singlespin, a Mann’s Wooly Bully (white/chartreuse) and a strawberry 6-inch Mann’s Jelly Worm.
There was so much written about this Classic that we’ll be posting another report on how the finishers caught their fish along with some interesting events that happened during the Classic. And, as usual, Harold Sharp will be writing his behind-the-scene recollections of what transpired prior to the kickoff of Bass Master Classic III.