Bass In the Classroom

A Bass Fishing Institute Study Book from the early 80s.

Today’s anglers are probably familiar with The Bass University classes organized and run by Mike Iaconelli and Pete Gluszek. What many may not realize is that this is a concept that is almost as old as the sport of bass fishing itself. In fact, you have to go back to 1975, when Billy Murray, Sport Fishing Hall of Fame member, and brother Bobby Murray, 2X Bassmaster Classic winner, first formed and organized the Bass Fishing Institute, in conjunction with the American Institute of Bass Fishing and Indiana State University, of Terre Haute, Ind..

The two-day BFI program was taught by a mix of top tournament pros and technical industry experts at the time. It would take much too long to list all the names of all the instructors who participated over the years, but it would certainly read like a “Who’s Who” of the sport of bass fishing.

Students attended eight one-hour general sessions that included multi-media presentations, lectures and discussions. Subjects covered included the different bass species, balanced tackle, the waters, seasonal patterns, lure and casting techniques, electronic equipment, and structure fishing.

Between each general session, students attended five special workshop sessions of their choice with courses including advanced sonar, map reading, electric motors and batteries, fishing crankbaits, pH and color meters, and outboard motor performance.

Teaching aids such as a 30-foot “fishing simulator” aquarium were also part of the training. Here, one could see in tank demos of lures, watch how bass reacted to various presentations, and they even had an underwater hydrophone that you could listen to see which lures made a lot of noise, and which ones were silent. Class hours were 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

There was also a 107 page workbook similar to the one in the photo. Looking inside at the contents of the book I possess from 1980, you find the following chapters:

Introduction/vii

  1. Facts about Bass/1
  2. Water Classification/5
  3. Seasonal Patterns/21
  4. Structure Fishing/29
  5. Lures/49
  6. Balanced Tackle/69
  7. Electronic Fishing Equipment/73
  8. Care of the Catch/87
  9. Preparation and Maintenance of Equipment/91
  10. Boat Positioning and Boat Safety/97

Glossary/105

Material credits included the following: AL Lindner, President In-Fisherman Magazine, Fenwick, John Fox, Darrell Taylor, Fishing Facts Magazine, Lowrance Electronics, and Dupont Co. – Stren Fishing Line.

As you might imagine from 1980, the seasonal patterns and water classification system were, in part, what would end up in the 1981 published Lindner (Al & Ron)/Murray (Billy & Bobby)/Meyers book “Bass: A Handbook of Strategies”, one of the earliest and most thorough bass books, published by Al Lindner’s Outdoors, Inc.. Lowrance supplied the black and white flasher and paper graph interpretations. Fenwick provided the jig flipping diagrams.

All of this ran under the auspices of Indiana State University’s Continuing Education Program, and more than 20,000 anglers had attended the course in the first 10 years alone. I attended my first institute as a teenager, along with my father, at Indiana State University back in the early 80s. The adult registration fee, which included the workbook published by ISU, was $40.

  • Erick Prado

    i wish there would be more classes like that (i know Bass offers but seems different) I went to one that a local player did at the local Jr. college..Ron Cervenka did one hell of a job teaching the very basics of bass fishing..good class

  • Jeff Hahn

    I attended the BFI held in Cleveland in the early 1980s…by then the tuition had risen to $60. I took copious notes and I still review those notes from time to time. Sometimes when I get to the point of “over-thinking” bass fishing, going back to the basics helps me remember what is really important. Without a doubt, the chance to learn from those instructors, who included Rick Clunn, Jerry McKinnis, and Bobby and Billy Murray at the event I attended, is still paying dividends for me.