Season at a Glance: 1974 BASS Master Trail – Part One

Billy Westmorland hols his trophy from the 1974 BASS Master Florida Invitational held on the St. Johns River. Photo 1974 BASS Master Magazine May/June Issue.

This is part one of a three-part series on the 1974 Bass Master Tournament trail. Part One will cover the first half of the season, Part Two will cover the second half and Part Three will cover the 1974 Bass Master Classic.

By the beginning of 1974 Ray Scott and gang had been conducting tournaments for seven years. In that time they’d held 39 national events, including three Classics, and had made household names out of anglers such as Bill Dance, Roland Martin and Bobby Murray – to name only a few.

The ’73 season started off with a record-breaking event at the St. Johns River in Florida. In order to capitalize on that momentum, the first event of the ’74 season would also be held on that now-famed waterway – in hopes of breaking more records. The list below shows the ’74 schedule as revealed in the January/February issue of BASS Master Magazine.

  • Florida Invitational: St Johns River – February 6-8
  • Texas Invitational: Sam Rayburn – March 6-8
  • Arkansas Invitational: Beaver Lake – April 3-5
  • Tennessee Invitational: Watts Bar – May 1-3
  • Virginia Invitational: Kerr Reservoir – June 5-7
  • All-American: Clark Hill Reservoir – September 25-27

As in the ’73 season, tournaments were not scheduled during the hottest months of the year to keep fish mortality down to a minimum. Also, two new rules were put into affect for the ’74 season. First, all boats would be required to have “some type of ignition kill switch.” Second, “Stick steering on boats with 33 h.p. or over will not be permitted to be used during the actual tournament competition hours.” It was becoming more of a reality that B.A.S.S. was cracking down on the horsepower race in the name of safety.

Other notes with respect to the ’74 season were: All profits from the trail in 1974 would be donated to the Bass Research Foundation and each event would be limited to 200 entrants. Entry fees for the season would be $200 per event and the top 35 anglers would receive prize money and points towards the Angler of the Year award.

George Taylor shows off his big fish for the Florida Invitational. Photo 1974 BASS Master Magazine May-June Issue.

St Johns River – Not a Record Breaker This Time

The Florida Invitational in ’73 started out the season by breaking two records – the 10-fish per day limit record (Larry Hill 108-02) and the overall big fish record (Bob Tyndall 12-13). Because of this, the full field of 200 anglers was hot to get the ’74 Invitational started. Unfortunately, the field would see much tougher fishing.

Famed smallmouth aficionado Billy Westmorland of Tennessee proved that he wasn’t only adept at catching smallmouths and distanced the field by nearly six pounds (49-02) for the win. His win would mark his first in a BASS Master event after closely missing two earlier in his career.

Westmorland reported the bass were really finicky and that his tournament waters were being inundated by other competitors. Here are his words as written in the May/June issue of BASS Master Magazine.

“It was crazy but the only way I could catch those bass on the worm was to let ‘em play with it on a loose line. They would run 15-30 feet with it, eventually stop and take it all, including the hook.”

Westmorland caught eight bass the first day (20-02) and a 10-fish limit the second day (25-03) but had some troubles the third day.

“The final day in Florida was rough. I was in the third flight of boats to leave the start line and found the canal and inlets full of fishermen who must have got wind of my honey hole.”

On that third day he caught only two fish (3-03) and felt he’d let another win slip by him. Still he had amassed enough weight to keep his lead and eventually win. His win automatically qualified him for the 1974 BASS Masters Classic.

Second place went to Andy Sceurman of Ohio with a total weight of 43-07. Sceurman made a charge on the final day by weighing in a 10-fish limit that went 29-14. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t enough to secure the win.

Third place in the event went to Texan Tommy Martin with 40-01, while Doug Howard (AL) took fourth place with 37-01. Rounding out the top 5 was Robert Martin of Missouri with 35-07.

Big fish went to George Taylor of Florida with a 10-04. His fish came out of the St Johns River and for his efforts he won a Ranger TR-3 boat rigged with a Super Motor-Guide, a Lowrance depth finder, a Fo-Mac Sur-Temp meter and a Wonder State trailer.

The top 35 are shown in the table below.

The Florida Invitational also raised $5,148.35 to be donated to the Bass Research Foundation and had a release rate of 83-percent.

1974 Florida Invitational - St Johns River Final Results
Place
Angler, State
Weight, lbs-ozs
1
Billy Westmorland, TN
49-02
2
Andy Sceurman, OH
43-07
3
Tommy Martin, TX
40-01
4
Doug Howard, AL
37-01
5
Robert Martin, MO
35-07
6
Joe Wilson, FL
34-10
7
Tom Mann, AL
34-04
8
Robert Smith, OH
31-12
9
Johnny Morris, MO
31-06
10
Bobby Meador, LA
30-07
11
Nebert Hestand, KY
29-02
12
Billy Primos, MS
27-13
13
John Little, SC
27-05
14
Bill Dance, TN
26-12
15
Dave Hilton, TN
26-09
16
Bill Ward, MO
26-01
17
J. D. Skinner, AL
25-14
18
Claude Kennedy, FL
24-11
19
Glynn West, TN
24-08
20
Bill Burress, KY
24-03
21
Bill Roller, MO
24-01
22
Lynn Schultz, MN
23-13
23
George Taylor, FL
22-12
24
Pete Nosser, MS
21-14
25
Roger Moore, MO
21-12
26
Marvin Klare, IN
21-11
27
Ray Lloyd, LA
21-11
28
Jerry McKinnis, AR
21-09
29
Jack Westbury, FL
20-09
30
Roland Martin, OK
20-08
31
Erwin Cole, TN
20-04
32
Teddy Harger, LA
20-04
33
James Dunbar, FL
20-00
34
Carl Logan, GA
20-00
35
John Powell, AL
19-14
36
Dan Snow, IN
19-14

Ricky Green takes the win at Sam Rayburn. Photo 1974 BASS Master Magazine May-June Issue.

Sam Rayburn – Green with Envy

The ’74 Texas Invitational held at Sam Rayburn would be second straight full-field event of the season, of which 83 hailed from the host state. This event, unlike the Florida Invitational held a month earlier, would break some records, though.

The 3,848 bass weighed in totaled 5,725 pounds and not only broke the all-time 10-fish daily limit events (4,247 pounds set at the ’73 Florida Invitational) but also broke the 15-fish daily limit record (5,238 pounds) set at Sam Rayburn in 1968.

Everyone caught fish but one angler, Ricky Green of Arkansas, was able to put together a combined sack of 59-13 to take the top honors. His win was greatly assisted by his final-day catch of 27-10 (10-fish limit) that rocketed him from 21st place. His catch was anchored by a 7-06 largemouth, which also netted him $500 in the daily big bass award to go with the $4,140 first-place prize money. Green, like Westmorland, also qualified for the 1974 BASS Masters Classic with his win.

Green reported that he caught his fish in the backs of coves in the Mud Creek area with chartreuse Weed Wader and Vibra Queen spinnerbaits.

Green’s win elevated him to seventh on the all-time money winners of B.A.S.S. with $11,607.08. Roland Martin still lead with $37,510.20 and Bill Dance was second with $27,984.10.

Second place went to Texan Greg Kelller with 57-04. His final-day limit of 25-15 also helped secure his $1,655 second-place check. The Texas Invitational was his first major B.A.S.S. event.

Third place went to Bill Johnson of Texas with 57-00, while Phil Green of Louisiana took fourth-place with 56-06. Bill Dance rounded out the top 5 with 55-05.

Big fish for the event went to Jack Griffin (TX) with a 7-12 largemouth. Griffin actually lead the event after two days of competition, mostly due to a 29-03 string (big limit of the event) he weighed the second day. He won a Ranger TR-3 for his big fish.

The top 35 anglers are shown in the table below.

1974 Florida Invitational - Sam Rayburn Final Results
Place
Angler, State
Weight, lbs-ozs
1
Ricky Green, AR
59-13
2
Greg Keller, TX
57-04
3
Bill Johnson, TX
57-00
4
Phil Green, LA
56-06
5
Bill Dance, TN
55-05
6
Billy Murray, TN
55-00
7
Roland Martin, OK
54-10
8
Russell Cook, MO
52-09
9
Bobby Meador, LA
51-14
10
Billy Primos, MS
51-11
11
Jack Griffin, TX
51-08
12
Dave Hilton, TN
50-13
13
Van Liscum, TX
50-12
14
Benny Martines, TX
49-14
15
Bobby Murray, AR
49-07
16
Jeff Green, TX
49-04
17
Elroy Krueger, TX
49-03
18
Johnny Morris, MO
48-13
19
J. D. Skinner, AL
48-12
20
Jim Gotcher, TX
48-08
21
Billy Parker, MS
48-06
22
Forrest Wood, AR
47-09
23
Glin Wells, TN
47-07
24
Rick Clunn, TX
46-14
25
Terry Davidson, MO
46-12
26
Basil Bacon, MO
46-07
27
Harold Allen, TX
46-02
28
L. E. Martin, MS
45-12
29
Bob Ferris, TX
45-09
30
Don Mead, MO
45-03
31
Jerry Mantooth, TX
45-01
32
Charlie Moorhead, KY
45-00
33
Tom Mann, AL
44-14
34
Danny McCain, LA
44-12
35
J. D. Busby, AR
44-07

After two events, Bobby Meador and Bill Dance were tied for first place in the AOY race with 83 points each, Billy Primos was in second place with 80 points, Dave Hilton and Johnny Morris were tied for third place with 75 points each, J. D. Skinner was in fourth place with 66 points and Roland Martin was in the fifth spot with 65 points.

Tommy Martin shows the Rebel Super-R that he used to take his first BASS Master win on Beaver Lake. Photo 1974 BASS Master Magazine July-August Issue.

Beaver Lake – A Different Martin

After two full 200-contestant events, the Arkansas Invitational would only draw 170 anglers. That may have had to do with the weather, though, as April brought snow, sleet, hail and 30 mph winds to the event.

Despite the adverse conditions, a new Martin debuted in his first-ever B.A.S.S. event and won by a three pound margin.

Tommy Martin, one of the Hemphill Gang as they’d eventually become known, won the third event of the season with 48-05. Martin had paid attention to Don Butler’s winning tactics the year before and developed a pattern on rocky points and shallow coves using a Rebel Super-R crankbait – the same bait Butler had won with in ’73. Not only did Martin use the Super-R, he painted a fluorescent red stripe on the bottom of it just like his predecessor. To add insult to injury, Martin lost his last crank on the second day of the event and had to borrow another one from – you guessed it – Don Butler.

Ricky Green (AR) placed second with a cumulative weight of 44-15, while Loyd McEntire (IN) placed third with 43-08. McEntire had the heaviest string of the event at 21-07 but that’s not all he tried to weigh. He also caught a 15-pound striper that Harold Sharp wouldn’t allow to be weighed in. From the sounds of it, there were a bunch of laughs to be had by that escapade.

Lanny Verner (TX) took fourth place with 42-06 and Bo Dowden finished in the fifth spot with 41-13.

Danny Dick (OK) won big fish for the event with an 8-04 largemouth, which netted him a Ranger TR-3 boat and accessories.

By the end of the Beaver Lake event, anglers had weighed in 1,460 bass of which only 33 weren’t released. This yielded the highest release rate ever recorded in a B.A.S.S. tournament at the time.

The top 35 anglers are shown in the table below.

Bass Master Trail 1974 Beaver Lake Results
Place
Angler, State
Weight, lbs-ozs
1
Tommy Martin, TX
48-05
2
Ricky Green, AR
44-15
3
Loyd McEntire, IN
43-08
4
Lanny Verner, TX
42-06
5
Bo Dowden, LA
41-13
6
Stan Sloan, TN
40-12
7
Hugh Massey, KY
38-10
8
John Powell, AL
36-07
9
Russell Cook, MO
36-06
10
Danny McCain, LA
35-14
11
Roger Mhoon, AR
35-08
12
Bobby Meador, LA
34-10
13
Elmer Pickens, TN
34-03
14
Bobby Murray, AR
33-04
15
Jimmy James, LA
32-04
16
Butch Stroud, AR
29-05
17
Joe Kennedy, TX
28-08
18
Bill Dance, TN
28-02
19
Heb Adams, OK
28-00
20
Jim Fudoli, MO
27-14
21
Jerry Owens, OK
27-08
22
Herman Gettlefinger, TN
26-10
23
Dwight Keefer, MO
26-05
24
Bob Schultz, MO
26-03
25
J. B. Warren, AR
25-08
26
Rick Clunn, TX
25-03
27
Bob Tyndall, MO
24-12
28
Steve Mitchell, IN
24-02
29
Elroy Krueger, TX
24-00
30
Forrest Wood, AR
23-15
31
Jerry Williams, AR
23-11
32
Jerry McKinnis, AR
23-06
33
J. D. Skinner, AL
23-01
34
Roland Martin, OK
22-12
35
Paul Trefz, GA
22-12

Here’s how the AOY race was shaping up after three events. The top 30 anglers are shown.

1974 Angler of the Year Race After Three Events
Place
Angler, State
Points
1
Bobby Meador, LA
122
2
Bill Dance, TN
116
3
Ricky Green, AR
99
4
Tommy Martin, TX
98
5
Russell Cook, MO
85
6
J. D. Skinner, AL
84
7
Roland Martin, OK
82
8
Billy Primos, MS
80
9
Dave Hilton, TN
75
9
Johnny Morris, MO
75
10
Bobby Murray, AR
73
11
Tom Mann, AL
62
12
John Powell, AL
59
13
Danny McCain, LA
58
14
Elroy Kruegar, TX
56
15
Rick Clunn, TX
52
16
Billy Westmorland, TN
50
16
Forrest Wood, AR
50
17
Andy Sceurman, OH
49
17
Greg Keller, TX
49
18
Bill Johnson, TX
48
19
Doug Howard, AL
47
19
Phil Green, LA
47
19
Lanny Verner, TX
47
19
Loyd McEntire, IN
47
20
Robert Martin, MO
46
20
Bo Dowden, LA
46
21
Billy Murray, AR
45
21
Joe Wilson, FL
45
21
Stan Sloan, TN
45

Part Two of this series will discuss the remaining three tournaments of the season and Part Three will talk about the 1974 Classic.