We’ve done a lot of reporting on the old bass associations that have popped up and fizzled out over the years. Two of those we’ve spent a lot of time on were the American Bass Fisherman (ABF) and the California Lunker Club (CLC). ABF was actually taking a stab at B.A.S.S. for their anglers and doing a pretty good job at it until George Oates got convicted for fraud and the organization eventually sold out to National Bass Association, which folded a couple years later.
The California Lunker Club, on the other hand, was the brain child of Dave Coolidge and designed as an insurance policy for anglers in the event they caught a big fish. Join CLC for $10 per year and if you caught a big’un, you got you fish mounted for free.
CLC started in 1971 but by the time 1972 rolled around, bass tournament fever was sweeping the nation – California included. Coolidge held his first event in 1972 and the rest is history.
I actually interviewed Dave for a two part article when we first started the Bass Fishing Archives. In that interview he said that by 1974 CLC had just gotten too big and too expensive to run. He handed it over to Western Bass/Western Outdoor News in early 1975 and started as associate editor of their magazine.
The story was short, sweet and from what I thought – done.
Then I get this January/February issue of ABF magazine and see the article featured at the top and middle of this page. Supposedly ABF and CLC, with the help of Jim Putney (a western writer and writer for both rags), were going to combine forces. It also talks about the number of tournaments Coolidge had held and the new 1975 tournament schedule with over 30 events scheduled.
It’s kind of crazy (if you go back and read the prior articles I did with Coolidge you’ll see) the discrepancy between the two stories but I have to believe this article was written a few months prior to Coolidge’s final decision of what to do with CLC. In fact, when I talked with him back in 2012 he never made mention of this.
It’s interesting to go back and try to piece together all the organizations and how they came about and either succeeded or failed. Here’s a lot of speculation due to the fact that many of these individuals are no longer with us. It’s still fun to sleuth around and try to put the puzzle together.