Rich Tauber’s BASS CHAMPS – The First Bass Fishing Computer Game

BASS CHAMPS Computerized Video Game Ad May 1989 issue of American Bass Association newsletter.

Scanning over a 1989 issue of American Bass Association’s (that’s the southern Cal version of ABA, folks) newsletter I ran across this little product – the Rich Tauber’s Bass Champs computer video game.

The game, developed by Shadowfax Software Inc. of Orange, California, claims to have brought bass fishing into the “computer age” with the development of the software and, from what I remember at the time, was actually the first in a long line of computerized bass games to make it to the industry.

Shadowfax developers, Karl Schorr and Scott Hartley teamed up with western pro Rich Tauber to develop what they felt wasn’t just a computerized bass fishing game but a tool to learn from. Using Tauber’s experience, the game was designed to replicate actual fishing conditions – weather, time of year even tackle selection.

“We’ve made BASS CHAMP as realistic as possible,” Schorr said. “We wanted players to feel that they were actually out on the water. Everything but the mosquitoes has been one of our mottos. They’ll be coming in version two.”

BASS CHAMPS computerized video game write-up May 1989.

Coined a “simulator” by its developers, BASS CHAMPS allowed players to review anything a would-be angler would face prior to hitting the water. The computer would then put forth a scenario (weather, time of year, temperature, etc) and then generate a pattern or patterns that the fish would follow. It was then the angler who had to find the fish, pick the right depth, lure and retrieve and catch the fish.

The player could also consult Tauber at any time during the game to get his opinions on the conditions. The game also included a sonar screen that could be called upon.

Another interesting deal about the write-up is the system requirements for the game. The game came on a 5 1/4-inch floppy disk (remember those?) and needed a minimum of 256k – yes kilobytes – of memory. It also required DOS 2.0 or higher. How long has it been since you heard the term DOS? Optional equipment that could be purchased was a graphics card and color monitor. The standard game retailed for $35.

Although these games are great for entertainment value, I still regard them as barely realistic. There are just too many variables in bass fishing to make a 100% accurate simulator that combines all the variables. Still, they’re fun to play if you take them at face value. Looking back, though, I would have liked to have played this game just to see how accurate and realistic it was.

Did any of you play this game or any of the other early bass fishing games back in the day?

  • Rusty

    had lotsa fun with this game in its time. Kinda wished it was on a cd now. Even fished the “tournaments” they offered. Great job back then

  • Rusty

    Oh yeah, I also helped develop the Lake Fork tournament then.

    • Rusty, do you have any of the old ads or anything to do with the software that we could use here?

  • andy williamson

    I loved playing my board game “Lunker”, I got back in l977. Made by King’s Kids Inc. of Reisterstown, Maryland, Rick Clunn was one of the main people behind its design. It came with Lakeboard, scoresheets, structure value chart, glossary chart, situation cards, playing markers and dice. It took me 2 weeks to get through the detailed instructions before I actually played the game (mostly by myself). It wasn’t a marketing success. I remember Clunn saying to his wife, something like, “We’ve got about 15 of these games in our closet at home,” when I had him sign the instruction manual, back in 2003 at Toledo Bend. I still have the game in its entirety.

    • Andy,

      I had to look that one up to see what you were talking about. I do not remember that game at all. I did a quick search on eBay and found one for sale but it had ended. I did nab the screen shot of it, though. Would it be possible for you to take pictures of your game and send them to me?


      • andy williamson

        I googled all over the place and looked on ebay and amazon, and found absolutely nothing about “Lunker”. The game is NOT the “Lunker Lake” game invented in Canada. Regardless, I will try to send pics to you but it might take a while. (I am unskilled at sending pics, and will have to have someone help me). If you contact Rick Clunn, I bet he would send you one of the games, if he still has a lot of them. Contacting Ken Peters would really help too, in giving you the history behind the making of the game.
        Also, if you could get ahold of a 1978 Bass Pro Shops catalog, it would be in there, as that is where I ordered it.

  • andy williamson

    I also need to give credit to Ken Peters of King’s Kids, for making the game.