[Editor’s Note: This is Harold Sharp’s recollections of how the first Bassmaster Angler of the Year was awarded in 1970. There are a lot of questions surrounding it due to the fact that there was no actual race and if based on points (or pounds) Roland Martin would have won.]
There are some question as to when and where the B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year started. Here’s how I remember it.
The year was 1970 and B.A.S.S. tournaments were scored on a point system based on X number of points per ounce of bass weighed in. This point system was used by Ray Scott in his first tournament at Beaver Lake and I believe the points were used because the score looked better on the scoreboard.
For example: 12-04 based on 10 points per ounces equals – (12 X 16) +4 = 192 + 4 = 194 ounces X 10 points/ounce = 1960 points. 1960 looks better on the scoreboard than 12-04 does.
This point system was carried over to B.A.S.S. tournaments in 1968 and remained until about 1972 when it was changed to total pounds and ounces. It was changed after we discovered a flaw in the point system that could cost an angler the AOY or Classic bid. Here is the flaw. The B.A.S.S. events today are scored on a point system based on 100 point to win, 99 for 2nd, 98 3rd, etc. So we will use that system to show the flaw.
Suppose you and I were fishing a 6-tournament schedule under this system for the AOY Championship and you won the first 4 events and I placed second in the first four. See the table below.
From the table you can see that after a 25th-place finish in the 5th tournament, you can only score a possible 576 points if you win the last tournament. I, on the other hand, can beat you by one point if I finish in 19th place in that last event. You won 5 of the 6 tournaments and had a 25th place and I placed 2nd in five events and had a 19th place and beat you. The flaw in the points system is it limits the amount you can score.
Back to the BASS AOY in 1970.
Bill Dance fished 6 of the 7 events that year – he missed Eufaula, AL. Roland Martin fished 6 of 7 – he missed the Ross Barnett tournament. Bill Dance’s total weight was 336-02 and his total money was $6710. Roland Martin’s total weight was 358-00 and his total money was $5679. So Dance was ahead in money and Martin was ahead in weight and points. But neither points or money were used to establish anything because there was nothing to qualify for, they were fishing for the money and it was scored with points, but that was just to look good on the scoreboard.
Bill Dance won 3 events while Roland Martin placed second in 3 events and won 1 event. Martin also had a 16th place, while Dance’s lowest finish was 13th. Roland had 77-06 at Toledo Bend for 2nd place and he also had 94-07 at Eufaula, AL. for 2nd place. Dance’s highest total weight all year was 72-12. The two second-place finishes paid Roland $1000 each, the 3 wins paid Dance $2000 each. So remember that points were used to score the events and the winner got double the pay of what second place got.
But neither points nor money was used to determine the BASS AOY in 1970 because there was no B.A.S.S. AOY in 1970 until the Tour was over at Table Rock on November 14, 1970 and Bob Cobb referred to Bill Dance as The B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year in something that he wrote.
This was based on the fact that Dance had won 3 of the last 4 events that he fished. It was not based on the points as Dance finished second in points, Martin weighed in 358 pounds, that’s 5728 ounces and Dance weighed 336-02, that’s 5378 ounces. Dance won more money because a win was double what second was, and he won 3 events.
After the 1970 tour was over in November, 1970 and an article appeared in the January/February 1971 issue of Bassmaster Magazine titled, “BILL DANCE (Who Else?) BASS ANGLER OF THE YEAR.” It does not state who wrote it and Bob Cobb says he does not remember, but I remember Bob Cobb writing something that stated Bill Dance was the BASS AOY. He [Cobb] may have written this article or it may have been his news release of the Table Rock tournament where he mentioned it. Remember the 1970 tour was over at Table Rock on Nov. 14, 1970, this article appeared in Bassmaster in January 1971 and by then we were discussing the Bassmaster Classic and B.A.S.S. AOY for 1971.
In 1971 we were still scoring the events with points. The points were used to determine the Bassmaster Classic qualifiers and the BASS AOY. Roland Martin won the B.A.S.S. AOY in 1971, ‘72 and ‘73. Bill Dance did not fish the Bassmaster tour in 1971 – he took a year off to get his TV show going. When the B.A.S.S. listing for AOY came out in 1971 Roland was listed but Bill Dance was not listed for 1970. I pointed this out to Ray [Scott] and Bob [Cobb]. Dance was also not listed in 1972 or ‘73 as being the first winner in 1970. Then Bill Dance won B.A.S.S. AOY in 1974 and finally in 1975 Dance was listed as the first B.A.S.S. AOY in 1970.That may have been caused by Dance missing the 1971 year and everyone forgot to correct it after he returned to the tour.
I’m not sure how it happened, Bob and Ray are not sure, but the one thing that I remember was that Bob Cobb invented the B.A.S.S. AOY by naming Bill Dance at the end of the 1970 BASS Tour. But there was no race between Dance and Martin for B.A.S.S. AOY in 1970 as it did not exist. There was a race for point championship but the point championship did not lead to anything. Dance did not receive an AOY trophy and he was not recognized by B.A.S.S. until 1975 as the 1970 BASS AOY.