Season at a Glance: 1977 Bassmaster Trail – Part One

Bill Dance was the leader in the 1977 Bassmaster Angler of the Year Race and the midway point of the season. Photo May/June 1977 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Bill Dance was the leader in the 1977 Bassmaster Angler of the Year Race and the midway point of the season. Photo May/June 1977 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

[Editor’s Note: This is Part One of a Five-Part series on the 1977 Bassmaster Tournament Trail. Part one cover the first half of the regular season, Part Two will cover the second half, Part Three will cover the BASS Chapter Federation Nationals, Part Four the Classic Qualifiers and part Five the Bassmaster Classic.]

It’s been a few months since we looked back on the early Bassmaster Tournament Trail so it’s about time we picked back up where we left off – 1977. The 1976 season ended with Jimmy Houston winning the coveted Angler of the Year award and Rick Clunn won the first of his four Bassmaster Classics. What would 1977 bring?

Typical of the prior five years, the tour started off with a trip to Florida and the St. Johns River. Five more events would call it a season capped off with the Bassmaster Classic – again touted as a mystery tournament in the March/April 1977 issue of Bassmaster. Here’s how the schedule looked for 1977.

  • Florida Invitational, January 19-21 – St Johns River
  • Louisiana Invitational, February 16-18 – Toledo Bend Reservoir
  • Virginia Invitational, March 16-18 – Gaston Lake
  • Arkansas Invitational, May 11-13 – Greers Ferry Reservoir
  • Alabama Invitational, June 15-17 – West Point Reservoir
  • New York Invitational, September 21-23 – St. Lawrence River
  • Bassmaster Classic, October 26-28 – To Be Announced October 24
Steve Goodwin holds the check from his 1977 Florida Invitational win. Photo March/April 1977 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Steve Goodwin holds the check from his 1977 Florida Invitational win. Photo March/April 1977 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

St. Johns River – Goodwin Freezes Competition

January in Florida is hit or miss when it comes to the weather. In 1977 the first Bassmaster event on the St. Johns River didn’t just miss the mark weather-wise, the shot could have easily been in a northern state – like the frozen tundra of Minnesota.

A full field of 250 anglers was met with an inch of snow on opening morning, followed by a severe cold front that dropped air temperatures down to 24 degrees with zero-degree wind chills.

Bassmaster pro Roger Moore led the first two days of the event by throwing a Norman Deep Baby N crankbait but his fish ended up running out on the final day of competition. Steve Goodwin of Durhan, NC won the event with a total of 12 bass weighing in at 45-03, five (for 21-11) of which he caught on the final day. He reportedly caught his fish on a 7-inch Flip Tail worm, black and brown, rigged with a pegged 1/4-ounce worm weight. His pegging method was what he credited with his win.

“In the cold water, the bass didn’t take the bait,” said Goodwin. “On some strikes they were so soft and light you couldn’t detect them.”

His pegging method consisted of tying off a paper match stick to the line 12 inches above the hook with an overhand knot. This is what stopped the sinker from sliding down the line to the eye of the hook.

Roger Moore ended up in 2nd place with a total of 27-01 (11 fish) while Bill Dance finished in 3rd place with 12 fish for 24-11. 1975 Classic winner Jack Hains weighed in seven fish for 23-02 for 4th place, while H. J. Stevens hauled in 10 bass for 21-01, rounding out the top 5.

Over the course of three days the field brought 541 bass to the scales for a total of 1223-02 – no one angler caught a limit. Big fish of the event went to Garry Sperry of Kansas with a bass that weighed 10-10 that netted him a Ranger 155-A bass boat, SilverTrail trailer, Silvertrol trolling motor, Lowrance LFG-306 locator and a Fish-n-Temp, and other accessories.

The final results for the Florida Invitational are shown in the table below.

1977 Bassmaster Florida Invitational St Johns River Final Results  
 Place
Angler, State
Weight
lbs-0z 
 1  Steve Goodwin, NC  45-03
 2  Roger Moore, MO  27-11
 3  Bill Dance, TN 24-11
 4  Jack Hains, LA 23-02
 5  H. J. Stevens, AR 21-01
 6  Phil Greene, LA 20-05
 7  Al Greene, GA 20-04
8 Harold Allen, TX 20-03
9 Manuel Spencer, FL 18-15
10  Joe Wagoner, NC 18-09
11 Gary Pendergrass, MO 18-05
12 Sam Chapman, TN 17-11
13 Tom Mann, AL 17-02
14 John Powell, AL 16-13
15 Hugh Massey, KY 15-12
16 Larry Nixon, TX 15-03
17 Bill Beardon, GA 15-00
18 Joe Pryor, NC 14-09
19 Jerry Morrow, FL 14-01
20 Billy Westmorland, TN 13-13
21 Garry Sperry, KS 13-12
22 J. D. Skinner, AL 13-05
23 Billy Joe Bowman, AL 13-04
24 David Gliebe, CA 13-03
25 Gary Wade, NC 12-14
26 Ray Biven, KY 12-12
27 Emmett Chiles, AR 12-07
28 Shaw Grigsby Jr., FL 12-07
29 Roland Martin, OK 12-02
30 Jim Rogers, MO 12-00
31 Jimmy Houston, OK 11-15
32 Willard Moore, LA 11-12
33 Frank Colyer, VA 11-07
34 Basil Bacon, MO 11-05
35 Don Shealy, NC 11-04
36 Terry Smith, FL 11-02
37 Jerry Rhoton, OK 10-15
38 O’Neal Mintz, SC 10-14
39 Marshall Heisler, MO 10-13
40 Cliff Craft, GA 10-11

 

Dave Gliebe won his thrid event in three months at the Bassmaster Louisiana Invitational in February 1977. Photo May/June 1977 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Dave Gliebe won his thrid event in three months at the Bassmaster Louisiana Invitational in February 1977. Photo May/June 1977 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Toledo Bend – Gliebe Flips Out

The second event of the ’77 season found the anglers heading to the Louisiana side of Toledo Bend Reservoir out of Zwolle, LA. Again a full field of 250 anglers met for competition, hoping the weather would be better than it had been in January on the St. Johns River in Welaka, FL. The weather was considerably better but still cold by Louisiana standards as a front moved in prior to the event.

The cold front moved the fish off the spawning flats and into the deeper drops, which baffled some of the anglers. Only 49 limits were caught over the three days of competition with a total of 2721 bass weighed for 5816-01.

California angler Dave Gliebe unlocked the secret to catching the sluggish fish, though. A disciple of Dee Thomas, Gliebe was fishing his sixth Bassmaster event and utilizing the new flipping technique. His 20 bass over three days weighed in at 83-02.

He found the fish along a “70-foot wide by 30-foot long weed-covered depression” located off a flat near the old Highway 1215. The depression contained timber and was covered with dead vegetation that had died in the recent cold weather and blown into the wood.

He fished a 5/8-ounce hand-tied hair jig tipped with a 4-inch plastic worm.

On the second day of competition, Gliebe and partner Don Mann managed 16 fish between them for a total of 85-10. Mann caught nine of those fish for a total of 49-02 and the largest single-day catch.

Second- and 3rd-place anglers, Paul Chamblee and Wade Reed, respectively, caught their fish on crankbaits. Chamblee weighed in 24 bass for 77-15 while Reed brought 29 bass to the scales for 76-10.

Big fish of the event was caught by Dean Gilbert, an 8-10, netting him a Ranger bass boat and accessories.

An interesting note was within that one-month timeframe, Gliebe had fished four national events, including the Florida Invitational on the St. Johns. Over that time period he won an American Bass Fisherman (ABF) event on Okeechobee with 95-03 (8-bass daily limit), an American Angler event on Sam Rayburn and then followed that up with the Toledo Bend win. In a month he pocketed over $43,000 in winnings. Ken Duke wrote two great pieces on these events that you can find on the Bassmaster website here and here.

Roland Martin and Al Lindner get a lesson in flipping from Californian Dave Gliebe. Photo Ron Lindner.

Roland Martin and Al Lindner get a lesson in flipping from Californian Dave Gliebe. Photo Ron Lindner.

Also of note was the flipping technique could not be ignored anymore. Dee Thomas introduced the system to the Eastern anglers with his win on Bull Shoals but it wasn’t until Gliebe’s torrent of success in 1977 that anglers really took notice. In fact Roland Martin and Al Lindner were both taught by Gliebe. To the right is a cool picture of Gliebe, Martin and Lindner after the Toledo Bend tournament, Gliebe giving a little lesson to the big guns of the day.

The final results of the 1977 Louisiana Invitational are in the table below.

1977 Bassmaster Louisiana Invitational Toledo Bend Final Results
 Place
Angler, State 
 Weight
lbs-ozs
 1  Dave Gliebe, CA  83-02
 2  Paul Chamblee, NC  77-15
 3  Wade Reed, LA  76-10
 4  Sonny Viola, LA  75-11
 5  Cliff Craft, GA  66-14
 6  Bobby Murray, AR  66-07
 7  J. B. Warren, AR  60-13
 8  Doug Odom, SC  60-08
9 Bill Dance, TN 59-14
10 George Mason TX 59-08
11 Don Mann, AL 59-04
12 Kim Whitaker, AR 59-02
13 Norwood Harris, LA 59-01
14 Jim McKay, MS 58-14
15 Roland martin, OK 58-12
16 Charlie Campbell, MO 58-07
17 Bo Dowden, LA 57-15
18 James Dudley, VA 57-12
19 Gary Wade, NC 57-03
20 Al Lindner, MN 56-07
21 Rick Clunn, TX 56-02
22 Wesley Fredieu, LA 51-07
23 Phil Greene, TX 51-06
24 Harold Allen, TX 51-04
25 Elroy Krueger, TX 50-04
26 Bill Ward, MO 50-01
27 Jimmy Houston, OK 47-14
28 Steve Goodwin, NC 47-11
29 Pat Boudreaux, LA 47-00
30 Ricky Green, AR 46-02
31 Tommy Martin, TX 43-10
32 Ronnie Young, TX 43-03
33 Don Shealy, NC 42-07
34 Glin Wells, TN 41-15
35 J. D. Skinner, AL 40-15
36 Jerry Brown, LA 40-04
37 Wayne Jackson, LA 40-04
38 Jim Noble, CO 40-02
39 Randy Fite, TX 39-10
40 Jim Rogers, MO 39-09

 

Al Linder and Ray Scott after Lindner's win at the 1977 Virginia Invitational on Lake Gaston. Photo May/June 1977 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Al Linder and Ray Scott after Lindner’s win at the 1977 Virginia Invitational on Lake Gaston. Photo May/June 1977 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Lake Gaston – Lindner Banks on Submerged Brush

The third stop on the ’77 Bassmaster Trail was a first-time visit to Virginia’s Lake Gaston. The Trail had visited nearby Buggs Island three times prior (1974, ’75 and ’76). The reason to go to Gaston was at the time it was known as a big fish lake. This held true as 10 bass over 7 pounds were weighed over the course of three days.

Although there were a number of big fish weighed, not many fish were brought to the scales. The total for three days of competition was 2,063 bass for a total weight of 3,949-00 and a total of 46 8-bass limits.

Al Lindner took top honors all the way around with a total of 20 fish that pushed the scales to 53-01. His day-1 total of 26-13 was also anchored by big fish for the event, a 10-04 bass. Lindner caught all of his fish for the event on the new Mister Twister Sintipede. He concentrated on docks that had cane poles on them. These deeper docks all had submerged brush piles around them that Lindner used to catch his fish off of.

Second place went to Bill Dance who weighed in 23 bass for 52-00. He reported catching his fish on a jig-n-eel, a Mann’s Jelly Worm and an Arbogast Mud Bug in 7 to 10 feet of water. Local angler Bobby Blankenship placed third with 44-05 (21 bass).

Ricky Green brought in 18 bass for a total of 43-14 for 4th place and Dr. Greg South, Lindner’s partner on day 1, rounded out the top 5 with 21 fish for 42-09.

In all Lindner took home nearly $18,000 for his win and big fish.

The final results for the Virginia Invitational are shown in the table below.

1977 Bassmaster Virginia Invitational Lake Gaston Final Results
Place
Angler, State
Weight
lbs-ozs 
 1  Al Lindner, MN  53-01
 2  Bill Dance, TN  52-00
 3  Bobby Blankenship, VA  44-05
 4  Ricky Green, AR  43-14
 5  Dr. Greg South, VA  42-09
 6  Jimmy Houston, OK  42-04
 7  Jon Butler, TN  40-07
8 Larry Nixon, TX 40-03
 9  Roger Moore, MO  40-00
10 Loyd McEntire, IN 38-13
11 Paul Chamblee, NC 38-01
12 Bill Ward, MO 37-11
13 Woo Daves, VA 36-07
14 Steve Goodwin, NC 36-01
15 James Thomas, AL 35-00
16 Rick Clunn, TX 34-14
17 Dick Busby, VA 33-09
18 Wendell Riddle, IN 33-09
19 Jerry Rhoton, OK 33-07
20 Clayton Staley, VA 33-05
21 Bill Horne, NC 32-01
22 Jim Ledbetter, NC 31-15
23 Bobby Murray, AR 31-13
24 Barry Figard, MD 31-08
25 James Parker, NC 31-08
26 Hubert Greene, NC 30-14
27 Jack Rich, NC 30-11
28 Jim Rogers, MO 30-10
29 Bob Duke, GA 30-07
30 Chic Aydelette, NC 30-04
31 Marvin Baker, TX 30-01
32 Monroe Tanner, LA 29-14
33 Gene Miller, AR 29-05
34 Danny Garrett, VA 29-04
35 Rayo Breckenridge, AR 29-00
36 John Powell, AL 28-03
37 Jack Hains, LA 28-01
38 Tommy Martin, TX 27-12
39 Larry Steele, AL 27-10
40 Jim Hunziker, VA 27-07

 

Angler of the year standings after the first three events had Bill Dance sitting comfortably in the lead with 304 points. Steve Goodwin, winner of the Florida Invitational held own the second spot with a distant 245 points. Roger Moore was close behind in 3rd place with 241 points. The top 30 for the Angler of the Year race is shown in the table below.

1977 Bassmaster Angler of the Year Race After Three Events
 Place
Angler, State 
Points
1  Bill Dance, TN 304
2  Steve Goodwin, NC 245
3  Roger Moore, MO 241
4  Jimmy Houston, OK 214
5  Al Lindner, MN 209
6  Phil Greene, TX 201
7  Paul Chamblee, NC 189
8  Jack Hains, LA 184
9 Bill Ward, MO 183
10 Larry Nixon, TX 178
11 Dave Gliebe, CA 172
12 Harold Allen, TX 165
13 H. J. Stevens, AR 165
14 Jerry Rhoton, OK 164
15 Bobby Murray, AR 163
16 Jim Rogers, MO 160
17 Ricky Green, AR 158
18 Cliff Craft, GA 152
19 John Powell, AL 152
20 Doug Odom, SC 147
21 J. B. Warren, AR 146
22 Rick Clunn, TX 145
23 Roland Martin, OK 143
24 Gary Wade, NC 143
25 J. D Skinner, AL 135
26 Dick Busby, VA 133
27 James Thomas, AL 132
28 Tommy Martin, TX 130
29 Rayo Breckenridge, AR 128
30 Hugh Massey, KY 128