Before there was the Bassmaster Classic, there was the World Series of Sport Fishing held from 1960-1968. That first event held in 1960, won by Harold Ensley, was an eight-day event held at seven Michigan lakes, and it was multi-species, not just bass that were counted. In that first event, there were 58 competitors.
We also covered details of the 1967 event which was won by Dwight Keefer. For those stories you can reference;
What hasn’t been talked about before, and I’ll only briefly touch upon it in this post, was what appears to be a saltwater version of this same series, also called by the same name. The briefness of coverage comment is because it was a mostly saltwater competition in the same style as the freshwater series, that being multi-day, multi-species. What I found interesting about the 1960 event in particular was that there was a largemouth bass component to the competition.
The “other” 1960 World Series of Sport Fishing event held down in Florida had 38 contestants from 7 countries. The 5 day series included specific days of competition for sailfish, marlin, bonefish, snook, tarpon, and largemouth bass. The largemouth bass fishing portion was held on Lake Okeechobee. Names of anglers in the contest were drawn randomly from a hat, paired together and then assigned a guide from the lake for the day.
The obvious part that ties in with what we try and do here at Bass Fishing Archives was the largemouth portion of the competition. In particular though was a single file photo (opening pic) I stumbled across that started me on this sleuthing adventure, that being the picture above of the father of structure fishing himself, Buck Perry, then age 44 and a contestant in the event. This would have been just a couple years after his infamous Spoonplugging presentation in Chicago (1957), a few years before Bill Binkelman would run with Perry’s structure fishing concepts and start Fishing News/Fishing Facts (1963), and begin what Ron Lindner termed the “modern angling revolution.”
On the day that they held the bass competition on Okeechobee, Buck Perry got drawn out with Sam Snead, “THE” Sam Snead of professional golfing fame. Sam was an avid bass angler who also spent a lot of time fishing with Ted Williams (also in the event), professional baseball player and later tackle collector/Sears fishing personality.
I was able to track down some old newspaper photos from a reporter who followed these two out on Okeechobee that day. It seems rather comical, if not ironic, to see Buck sitting in the middle of a rowboat casting at a massive field of shallow vegetation. As it turned out, it was Sam Snead who caught the largest bass recorded by all contestants in that portion of the event, a 7 pound largemouth. Check out these old photos from that day from the Sarasota Harold Tribune, featured in their January 20, 1960 publication.