Lunker Lore – A “How To” Manual

Lunker Lore, by Evinrude Motors

Lunker Lore, by Evinrude Motors

1967-1968 is a critical year in bass fishing history. In the Midwest, Fishing News magazine is espousing the discoveries of Buck Perry, and promoting the spoonplugging technique, a system of both trolling and casting used to map and eliminate water, and put you on biting fish faster. Lots of testimonials are coming in about how effective “the system” is. In the South, June 1967 marks the first organized bass tournament put on by Ray Scott, with the official structure and organization (B.A.S.S.) to follow in 1968. Two key rules that will get implemented in the tournaments that organization puts on will be no trolling, and no live bait, both directly in conflict with what is being practiced and promoted to the north. Right in the middle of all this, Evinrude Motors of Milwaukee, WI put out a 16 page manual on primarily trolling titled, “Lunker Lore – A Manual on How to Catch More Fish with Your Evinrude Outboard Motor.”

The manual sold for $0.25, and covered the following topics:

Lunker Lore Index

Lunker Lore Index

Though short in nature, the booklet captures the basics of trolling as it was being presented in the Midwest, that is, they cover the principles of Buck Perry’s system, though only mentioning him once in concert with Jason Lucas. That reference is to “the truth” that most big fish are caught in deeper water, which is located on page 5. “The Balanced Fishing Rig” is a 14-16 foot boat with a 52″ or larger beam, with a 9.9 hp – 40 hp engine. “The Techniques of Motor Trolling” cover the basics of starting shallow, and then moving deeper as necessary, and to run faster in warmer water, slower in colder water. “Trolling Lures” covers Spoonplugs, as well as popular deep diving baits of the time like Bombers and Hellbenders. “Motor Trolling Rods” are shorter musky style rods for trolling, and slightly longer and less heavy rods for casting once fish are contacted. “Trolling Lines and Reels” recommends 12 to 18 pound stiff monofilament, along with either Bronson, Shakespeare, or Pflueger reels. “Depth Finders as Fish Finders” mentions units like Lowrance’s Fish Lo-K-Tor and laments about the missed opportunities (fish catches) that likely have been overlooked in the past before sonar was available to anglers. “Fishing a Strange Lake” covers mapping basics, while “Do Outboard Motors Scare Fish” discusses the results of a 1949 University of MIchigan study that determind that “Outboards are seldom, if ever, harmful to fish or to fishing.”

An illustration of proper trolling patterns to find bigger fish

An illustration of proper trolling patterns to find bigger fish

While there is nothing groundbreaking in this little book, it is a neat piece of bass fishing history to have in the collection, especially given its publication timing as well as now seeing how quickly the non-trolling aspect caught on in bass fishing over a large part of the country. It also reflects how motor companies like Evinrude, who play a large role in the current tournament bass scene still today, also have to “play their cards” and market to folks like the walleye trollers and recreational anglers at the same time.

  • Ralph Manns

    Buck Perry deserves the credit for the exploratory fishing technique and interest in deeper-water bassing and lake/reservoir structure. No argument. His fishing technique worked then, and still does now, only less so. But he generated a false biological premise and created a myth: “the home of the bass is deep-water.”

    The biological reality is that most of the fish food, and thus most of the fish, live in shallower water where sunlight and vegetation growth provide the top of the food chain. The deeper you go, the less food is available.

    Because Buck’s argument seemed so persuasive in the late 1970s and “Fishing Facts” magazine sold and resold his deep-water concept, when I did my underwater and tracking research at Lake Travis, Texas, I was looking for scientific evidence to back his deep-water postulate. A daily movement of bass from deep water to shallows to feed and back from a “deep-home” was not then documented at that time by any scientific literature.

    What I found was that bass didn’t move up and down daily, Although they sometimes seasonally changed depth, they basically remained at about the same depth (withing 10 feet) of a habituated depth most of the year. Movement was mainly horizontal, at constant depth rather than up and down or in and out. The previous attempts at tracking bass by scientists also found mainly horizontal movement. Very few in-and-out moves were document then, and in all the more recent tracking research.

    Buck’s fishing tactic was effective, but like so many angler interpretations of results, his biology missed the boat. The “fact” is that, in the 1970’s, the bass in shallow water were highly pressured, and thinned-out by over-harvest while the deeper bass, actually a smaller starting population, was relatively untouched and easily exploited. Readers only need to follow tournament results to know that bass still are mainly caught in the top15 feet of waters, but some good ones remain deeper in typical bass lakes.

    Discovery of this reality, led to my first article in In-Fisherman, (Fishing acts refused the research report as it would “confuse our readers.”) See In-Fisherman, Vol/bk 43:57-87, The Home of the Black Bass is… This publication started my career attempting to counter the myths and misconceptions of anglers that were not backed by science.

    • Ralph. Thanks for the comment. You’ve done a ton of research on this subject and are a world expert when it comes to fish movement and other things. I still need to call you. I’ll try and get that done this weekend. Things have been crazy around here for the past 6 weeks or so. Thanks so much for your support!


  • ” …most big fish are caught in deeper water, which is located on page 5.”

    Hell Terry, the lakes I fish don’t even have page numbers.

    • LOL Rich. You mean you don’t fish by page number. 🙂