Season at a Glance: 1976 Bassmaster Tour – Part Two

JImmy Houston would win the Bassmaster AOY in only his second year as a full-time pro.

JImmy Houston would win the Bassmaster AOY in only his second year as a full-time pro. Photo February 1977 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

[Editor’s Note: This is Part Two of a three-part series on the 1976 Bassmaster Tournament Trail. To read Part One click here.]

By the halfway point of the ’76 season, there had been two rookies win events, Jimmy Houston had secured his first Bassmaster win and Roland Martin and Tom Mann were out of the AOY hunt for the first time since its inception.

The Bassmaster AOY race was headed by two-year pro Jimmy Houston with Bill Dance in a close second. Tommy Martin, Don Mann and Roger Moore rounded out the top 5.

The second half of the season would take the anglers to two familiar waters, Buggs Island and Bull Shoals, along with a body of water B.A.S.S. had never ventured to before, Cordell Hull in Tennessee. In the July/August 1976 issue of Bassmaster Magazine, Bob Burnette wrote a piece about Hull – a newly impounded reservoir in the central part of the state. The lake had only been formed four years prior, was riverine and offered nearly 400 miles of shoreline. It was formed by the Cumberland River and the Obey River directly below famed Dale Hollow. This event should be about as even a playing field as any in the past since the inception of B.A.S.S.

Jimmy Hawkins posing with his 1st-place trophy from Buggs Island. Photo September/October 1976 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Jimmy Hawkins posing with his 1st-place trophy from Buggs Island. Photo September/October 1976 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Buggs Island – Rookies Make it Three

For the third time in four events a rookie took the top honors on the Bassmaster Trail. This time Virginia club angler Jimmy Hawkins outdistanced a tough field of anglers including a top 10 that was filled with stars.

For the first two days it looked like Bassmaster veteran John Powell would walk away with the title. But on the last day of the event he could only muster up five bass and he dropped to the fifth spot. Hawkins caught one of eight three-day 24-bass limits to help him win the event with 50-08. He reported catching his fish on crankbaits, a Balsa B in chartreuse, on rocky banks with dirty water above Buffalo Creek.

Gary Wade of North Carolina took the second spot with 22 fish that went 49-03. He reported catching his fish in clear water less then 2-feet deep with black (blue tail) and motor-oil colored Mister Twister worms.

Not present in the top 50 for the first three events, Roland Martin finally cashed a check at Buggs Island, taking home 3rd place. It was the first event of the 1976 season where he received AOY points. He would have to have a stellar season in order to garner enough points to make the 6th Bassmaster Classic at the end of the year.
Below is the final standings for the Virginia Invitational.

1976 Bassmaster Virginia Invitational Buggs Island Final Standings
Place
Angler, State
Weight, lbs-oz
1
Jimmy Hawkins, VA
50-08
2
Gary Wade, NC
49-03
3
Roland Martin, OK
48-04
4
Bo Dowden, LA
47-10
5
John Powell, AL
44-13
6
Rayo Breckenridge, AR
43-07
7
Loyd McEntire, IN
43-07
8
Paul Chamblee, NC
43-04
9
Doug Odom, SC
42-12
10
Bill Horne, NC
42-10
11
Bill Ward, MO
42-05
12
James Parker, NC
41-08
13
Ricky Green, AR
41-07
14
Tommy Martin, TX
40-14
15
Don Shealy, NC
40-12
16
Phil Greene, LA
40-10
17
Roger Moore, MO
40-01
18
H.J. Stevens, AR
40-00
19
Jerry Rhyne, NC
39-11
20
Wayne McKinney, VA
39-08
21
Junie Copley, VA
38-15
22
Hurley Board. NC
38-11
23
Asa Godsey, VA
38-11
24
Cecil Lemons, VA
37-02
25
Larry Inman, NC
36-11
26
Sam Rush, VA
36-09
27
Bill Dance, TN
36-07
28
Greg South, VA
36-06
29
Woo Daves, VA
35-15
30
Manuel Spencer, FL
35-09
31
Tom Mann, AL
35-06
32
Glin Wells, TN
35-04
33
Dwight Howell, NC
34-14
34
Lynnwood Merricks, VA
34-09
35
Billy Primos, MS
34-04
Wade Reed takes the honors of having the second-worst winning weight at the 1976 event on Cordell Hull Reservoir in TN. Photo November/December issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Wade Reed takes the honors of having the second-worst winning weight at the 1976 event on Cordell Hull Reservoir in TN. Photo November/December issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Cordell Hull – The Dead Sea

When B.A.S.S. announce that they were heading to Tennessee’s Cordell Hull Reservoir on the ’76 Trail, anglers, especially Billy Westmorland, were excited about the chance to fish the new “hot” reservoir. Reports of hot summer action in the cold water had dreams of daily limits and lots of topwater action. It’s often funny the fish never get these memos.

Cordell Hull would become the third-worst tournament in Bassmaster history behind the 1973 Trail’s events at Keowee and Watts Bar. Heavy unseasonal rains had the water high and the water in Dale Hollow, above Cordell Hull, was streaming through the reservoir lowering water temperatures that mimicked late winter or early spring. As Bob Cobb stated in the November/December issue of Bassmaster Magazine, “It isn’t enough to say the Cordell Hull’s largemouth’s lips were sealed. They were welded shut.”

Over the three days of competition anglers brought 669 bass in that weighed 1090-01. Pretty bad for a summer tournament on a new lake.

As with every tournament, though, someone finds enough fish to be the winner and in this case it was rookie Wade Reed of Zwolle, LA who found the winning fish. Reed, who fished is first Bassmaster event on his home lake of Toledo Bend earlier in the season, found the winning area thanks to his 13-year-old son and the winning bait thanks to his wife.

Here are some of the notes from the tournament interview:

“My 13-year-old son, Kent, was fishing the practice with me and noticed some geese around an island. He wanted to see the Canadians closer. Honestly, I don’t think I’d [have] gone to the spot.

“I caught all the 14 bass during the tournament in that same area.”

“I’d ran short of small 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits, and sent my wife to the store. She spotted the white lure with one gold blade and one silver blade on a junk lure table in a discount store.”

Over the course of three days Reed weighed in a total of 23-13, the second lowest weight to ever win a Bassmaster tournament behind Roland Martin’s win at Watts Barr in 1973. Another interesting fact about Reed was he qualified for the Classic with his win at Cordell Hull but also qualified on points by the end of the year. In the four events he fished he made the top 50 each time (32nd at Toledo Bend, 23rd at Santee-Cooper, 1st at Cordell Hull and 38th at Bull Shoals) garnering enough points to finish 21st in the 1976 AOY standings. He went on to fish two events in 1977 and placed 3rd at Toledo Bend and 76th at Greer’s Ferry, AR. He never fished a tournament after that. In all, he fished seven events, including Classic VI and finished in the top 50 in six of them. It’s too bad he didn’t continue – he could have become another household name on the Trail.

The second place angler for the Cordell Hull event was none other than Rick Clunn. Clunn was by all intents and purposes on the best fish but the water temperature hampered their activity. He weighed in 9 fish the first day for 17-05 and lost three fish he estimated were over 5 pounds each. What was he using? A Lunker Lure buzzbait.

The tournament favorite, Billy Westmoreland weighed in 14 fish for 22-02, good enough for 3rd place and 1975 Bassmaster Classic winner Jack Hains took 4th place with 20-2 (12 fish). Rounding out the top 5 was Bill Wooten with 19-07 (10 fish). For you West Coast trivia freaks, Dave Gliebe took 6th place with 10 bass for 17-09. It was Gliebe’s first year on the Bassmaster Trail.

Big fish honors went to Bill Wooten with a 5-04 largemouth.

For the top 35 of the event see the table below.

1976 Bassmaster Tennessee Invitational Cordell Hull Final Results
Place
Angler, State
Weight, lbs-oz
1
Wade Reed, LA
23-13
2
Rick Clunn, TX
23-01
3
Billy Westmorland, TN
22-02
4
Jack Hains, LA
20-02
5
Bill Wooten, TN
19-07
6
Dave Gliebe, CA
17-09
7
Charlie Campbell, MO
16-08
8
Dick Busby, VA
15-15
9
Roger Moore, MO
15-14
10
James Bryant, AL
15-11
11
Frank Drose, SC
15-08
12
Johnny Morris, MO
15-08
13
Jim McKay, MS
15-03
14
Jerry Rhyne, NC
15-01
15
Roland Martin, OK
14-10
16
Woo Daves, VA
14-09
17
John Rawlings, IN
14-09
18
Greg Ward, MO
14-00
19
Bill Law, TN
13-11
20
Rayo Breckenridge, AR
13-05
21
Doug Odom, SC
13-00
22
Paul Chamblee, NC
12-14
23
Basil Bacon, MO
12-10
24
Price Nimmo, TN
12-06
25
Jack Chancellor, AL
12-04
26
Stuart Howard, TN
12-03
27
James Bryce, TX
11-10
28
Dudley King, TN
11-09
29
Charles Stewart, AR
11-06
30
Al Lindner, MN
11-05
31
Cliff Craft, GA
11-01
32
Jim Ed Austin, TN
11-00
33
Ricky Green, AR
10-07
34
Harvey Mastin, TN
10-06
35
Roger Brown, TN
10-05
Rick Garlough discusses his win at Bull Shoals as Ray Scott presents his trophy. Photo February 1977 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Rick Garlough discusses his win at Bull Shoals as Ray Scott presents his trophy. Photo February 1977 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Bull Shoals – Local Garlough Wins

Bull Shoals, the clear-water Arkansas/Missouri impoundment, was going to be won by fishing deep – at least that’s what everyone thought prior to the event. Bill Dance felt so strongly about that he dedicated his entire practice fishing deep water – and he did catch them.

But again, the bass didn’t get the word to move deep and those who committed to the abyss paid dearly for not adjusting.

Local guide and Federation angler Rick Garlough knew what the fish were feeding on a parlayed that knowledge into his first Bassmaster win. He buzzed a 1/4-ounce spinnerbait to catch 21 bass over the course of three days for 32-09.

Basil Bacon, who was a Bass Cat Boats promotional Rep at the time, weighed in the event’s biggest sack on the second day when he brought 19-12 to the scales. He was in 1st place by over four pounds but couldn’t make the fish eat the final round. And ended up in second with 16 fish for 29-14.

Third-place honors went to Max Atkinson (AR) with 20 fish that weighed in at 29-02 and Tony D’Ambrose (AR) took 4th place with 24-02 (12 fish). Jack Hains again made the top 5 in two events with 23-06 (13 fish).

Four of the top-5 finishers caught their fish shallow on spinnerbaits, while the other top-5 angler also caught his fish shallow on a crank. So much for the deep bite. Dan Ray (AR) caught the big fish of the event at 8-03.

Being the last event of the season, a lot was riding on who would finish where in the AOY standings. It had been a battle all year between Missouri’s Roger Moore and Oklahoma’s Jimmy Houston – each vying for their first end-of-year trophy. When is was all said and done, it was Houston who would capture the title – in his second year of full-time tournament fishing. After a gallant effort, Jack Hains wound up second and Moore slipped to the third spot.

For the top-35 final standings for the Bull Shoals event see the Tables Below.

1976 Bassmaster All-American Bull Shoals Final Standings
Place
Angler, State
Weight, lbs-oz
1
Rick Garlough, AR
32-09
2
Basil Bacon, MO
29-14
3
Max Atkinson, AR
29-02
4
Tony D'Ambrose, AR
24-02
5
Jack Hains, LA
23-06
6
Johnny Morris, MO
23-05
7
Dean Beth, MO
22-08
8
Greg Ward, MO
22-00
9
Charlie Campbell, MO
21-12
10
Rick Clunn, TX
18-14
11
Steve Monte, AR
17-04
12
Dwight Rose, AR
17-00
13
Gary Wilson, AR
16-11
14
Dee Thomas, CA
16-05
15
Jim Nolan, AR
16-01
16
Gary Wade, NC
15-15
17
Willard Moore, LA
15-11
18
Doug Odom, SC
15-10
19
Bob Martin, MO
15-04
20
Jimmy Houston, OK
15-03
21
Dave Gliebe, CA
14-00
22
Doug Brown, TX
13-08
23
Dan Muckler, MO
13-08
24
Jerry McCutchen, MO
12-14
25
Loyd McEntire, IN
12-14
26
Dan Ray, AR
12-12
27
Paul Chamblee, NC
12-10
28
Ricky Green, AR
12-07
29
Bill Norman, AR
12-05
30
Marvin Baker, TX
12-04
31
Bud Schnieder, AR
12-04
32
Jackie Criger, MO
11-10
33
Jack Chancellor, AL
11-07
34
Don Mann, AL
11-05
35
Bo Dowden, LA
11-03

Missing from the 1976 Classic are a couple of stout anglers. Roland Martin (26th in AOY points), John Powell (31st) and Tom Mann (38th) instantly come to mind. Don Norton who had made two previous Classic was out as was Glin Wells who had made four Classics. Second-year angler Woo Daves also missed by one spot finishing in 25th place. The ranks of the Bassmaster Tour were getting tougher with more anglers at each event and more anglers fishing every tournament in order to qualify for what was becoming the biggest event in fishing. The table below lists all the qualifiers for Classic VI.

1976 Bass Master Classic Qualifiers
Place
Angler, State
Points
1
Jimmy Houston, OK
222
2
Jack Hains, LA
205
3
Roger Moore, MO
198
4
Bill Dance, TN
178
5
Doug Odom, SC
174
6
Ricky Green, AR
172
7
Bill Ward, MO
172
8
Tommy Martin, TX
164
9
Rick Clunn, TX
162
10
Gary Wade, NC
162
11
Bo Dowden, LA
161
12
Billy Westmorland, TN
161
13
Johnny Morris, MO
160
14
Charlie Campbell, MO
153
15
Greg Ward, MO
153
16
Loyd McEntire, IN
150
17
Willard Moore, LA
149
18
Jack Chancellor, AL
144
19
Don Mann, AL
144
20
Rayo Breckenridge, AR
139
21
Wade Reed, LA
130
22
Jerry Rhyne, NC
130
23
Basil Bacon, MO
124
24
Paul Chamblee, NC
122

The next installment of the 1976 Season at a Glance we’ll talk about the 1976 B.A.S.S. Federation Championship followed by a look at the 1976 Classic cntenders.

  • Harold Sharp

    Another interesting thing about Cordell Hull that I always remember. In those days we had an opening banquet at each tournaments, this is where we announced the first days partners after the meal was finished. We had planned the meal to be in the school cafertia and I had arranged with the cooking staff at the school to do the cooking and serving, we decided on the menu , purchased the food and stored it in the school freezer. That afternoon the Ladies went to the school to start preparing the meal and discovered the janitor had turned off the freezer, he did not know it was full of food. They called me and I rushed over to the school only to find all the food spoiled and short notice to get ready for the anglers who would start arriving soon. I called a meeting with the ladies and said, “We will have 200 anglers here soon for the evening meal, I can tell by looking at you ladies that you know how to cook, so dig up whatever you have in the school supplies and cook a meal for 200 just like you do for the school kids and I will be back in about an hour. When I returned they were ready with a great meal and no one ever knew how it all happened.

    • Harold, you guys really knew how to fly by the seat of your pants if you had too. 🙂