The year was 1970, and B.A.S.S. was just starting to get a foothold in the fishing world. Boats were hitting the market, many of them with features designed for the “pros”, or with bass anglers in mind. That same year, a new boat was introduced that also had many of these features, and it could be found at one of the most popular stores in the country. Witness the birth of “The Gamefisher”.
Sears, Roebuck and Co. was one of the largest and best known retail stores in the country. Long before most of us would ever look forward to getting the annual Bass Pro Shops master catalog, most families would wait similarly for Sears’ annual catalog. At the time, Sears was into everything, witness them even having their own fishing and hunting catalog for several decades previous. And they had a fishing spokeperson in former baseball All-Star Ted Williams.
Ted was a fly fisherman and a big lure collector, and a very well kown personality. His ties would extend well into the sports world, even in the fishing industry. Many might recall seeing him on Jerry McKinnis’ “Fishin’ Hole” TV show, alongside former I.U. basketball coach Bob Knight, as they went salmon fishing in Russia, Jerry now being one of the co-owners of B.A.S.S. Another item that might give you an idea about his popularity was this commercial for Upper Deck, where he’s featured along with Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Mickey Mantle, Joe Montana, Gordie Howe, Reggie Jackson, and Eric Dickerson, long before ESPN ever jumped into Bass Fishing, and possibly the most high profile case for sportfishing in the general public we’ve seen;
Back on Gamefisher boats, this early advertisement from 1970 might be their first model boat, and appears to be made of green plastic. Later, they would get into the aluminum market line, and equip their boats with Gamefisher engines and trailers. This particular boat has molded in rod holders, a storage/ice chest compartment built into one of the seating areas, and which could arguably be converted into a livewell. It even had a nice padded swivel seat, with room and deck space for a Lo-K-Tor flasher or similar.
While nobody probably ever ran one of these boats out on the developing B.A.S.S. tourney trail, I know a whole lot of people who had one in the family, myself included, and many a basser can probably trace their early fishing boat roots back to a Sears Gamefisher. My mother worked for Sears for nearly 3 decades, so the first tourney I ever remember fishing with my father as a young teenager was out of an aluminum Gamefisher with an 8 hp engine of the same brand. Weren’t those the days.
Anybody else have a Gamefisher story?