Board Game or Bored Game?

In 1977 two-time Classic winner Rick Clunn leamed up with King's Kids Inc to produce the board game Lunker. Unfortunately it turned out to be a flop.

In 1977 two-time Classic winner Rick Clunn leamed up with King’s Kids Inc to produce the board game Lunker. Unfortunately it turned out to be a flop.

Fishing is typically thought of as an activity to be pursued outdoors, enjoying nature and trying to figure out its ways. That hasn’t stopped many entrepreneurs from trying to take the outside into the indoors. Not surprisingly, most of them have failed to capture what makes our sport so great.

RC2One early attempt to capitalize on this possibility was a board game called “Lunker,” introduced in 1977 and endorsed by Rick Clunn, who’d won the Bassmaster Classic in both 1976 and 1977. From the pictures seen here, it appears that this board game had more rules and intricacies that your average tournament circuit, as well as complicated tables, formulae and charts aimed at making it, in Clunn’s endorsement, “the closest thing to real fishing I’ve ever experienced.”

Or, as Clunn’s then-wife, Gerri later described it to author Nick Taylor: “[A]n unfortunate investment.”

RC3Of course, those were the days of “Pong,” before even “Space Invaders” or “Pac Man.“ Since then many video game companies have attempted to turn bass fishing into a sedentary, couch-bound exercise. Pros including Hank Parker, Kevin VanDam and Mark Davis have lent their names to these projects, as have the major tournament circuits, companies like Rapala, and leading retailers like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops. While some of them may have sold better than “Lunker,” none is likely to have fully captured the thrill of a 6-pounder swirling on a buzzbait in low light hours. For that, you still have to leave the house.

RC4Still, if you’re intrigued by “Lunker,” there’s currently one on eBay with bidding starting at the modest sum of $65.00 (free shipping, though). We recommend buying some lures or a tank of gasoline and going fishing instead.

[Editor’s Note: As couple months back one of our supporters, Andy Williamson, sent us a packet of material pertaining to this very game. Williamson has had the game since 1977 and took the time to read the instructions and attempt to play the game (no menial task mind you). Here are his thoughts.

Bass Fishing Archives supporter Andy Williamson sent in this letter from King's Kids Inc, which was in reply to his letter to them showing a fault in their rules. He sent the letter in the early 1978 time frame.

Bass Fishing Archives supporter Andy Williamson sent in this letter from King’s Kids Inc, which was in reply to his letter to them showing a fault in their rules. He sent the letter in the early 1978 time frame.

“Enclosed are photos and copied materials of the game “Lunker.” I had Rick Clunn sign the instruction booklet in February, 2003 at Toledo Bend.

“The rules are very long and complicated. It took me at least a week to read through them and understand them. A person really had to be a bass fanatic back in 1977 to enjoy the game.

“I have enclosed a copy of a response to a letter I wrote to King’s Kids about rule 22 and that some of the borders of fishing areas were missing.”

I have to admit, one of the reasons I hadn’t posted anything about the game so far is because I was trying to read the rules in order to understand what I would write about. I’m a pretty articulate person and this game had my head spinning – hence the lack of an earlier article.

Thanks Andy for sending in the material from the game and also the letter from King’s Kids. I guess they never got around to re-issuing the second version with your correction.

  • Andy Williamson

    Terry,
    Thank you writing a great article! (I’ve been waiting). From the photos, it looks like you now have one of the games for yourself. King’s Kids never did come out with a second edition. I have fond memories every time I look up on my closet shelf and see the game.
    Thanks for your nice comments.

    • Terry Battisti

      Andy,

      Actually I can’t take credit for the article at all. Pete wrote it and I’m glad he did. Like I said in the editorial note, I couldn’t get my head wrapped around “how” to write an article on such a tough topic. 🙂 So, when Pete sent me the piece, I posted it and included your info in it.