Before there was the Bassmaster Classic, one of the largest and most recognized fishing tournaments was the World Series of Sport Fishing, held from 1960-1968. Winners of note included such greats as Harold Ensley, Virgil Ward, Glen Andrews, and Dwight Keefer. Terry did a great piece on Dwight Keefer, the 1967 winner of the event, back in July 2012. However, Fishing Facts sent one of their then editors, George Pazik, to cover the event and interview the 32 pros fishing. He wrote a piece in the November 1967 issue of Fishing News covering what he learned from those interviews, and it provides an interesting, if not entertaining look at the birth of the tournament fishing, as well as the tips and strategies employed over 45 years ago.
Here are the 7 key points from the article:
- Make every minute count in fishing time – This point referred to two separate areas. One was the number of prepared rods and reels that the pro anglers carried, something now considered so commonplace we hardly think about it. Yet, back in the late 60s, the average angler probably owned just an outfit or two, not the 5 to 10 specialized outfits used by these pros. The other point was in reference to owning and using both a large engine, along with a smaller electric trolling motor. In some cases, even a third “kicker” engine just for trolling (which was legal) at slower speeds. The concept of silent positioning with an electric motor was just in its infancy back then.
- Learn (Fish habits) on easy lakes – This one came from the winner, Dwight Keefer. He said the best way to learn how to catch fish was to fish lakes that had good populations of easy to catch fish.
- No bait is always best – By this, they are referring to the fact to no one single lure is always going to be the best bait for every situation. I liked their wording best; “Some of these experts are sponsored by bait and tackle manufacturers. Without naming names, let me tell you a little shocker – they didn’t always fish with their sponsors bait!” Still rings true to this day.
- Learn each bait thoroughly – While all these pros were versatile and could throw most any bait, they recommended that an angler become an expert with one particular bait before trying to learn another, a piece of advice still given out today.
- Vary depth and retrieve speed to find the fish – A cold front had passed through the area right as the tournament began, and this tip was based on the fact that retrieves and bait presentations had to be adjusted accordingly if you were to catch fish. Those who stuck with the same baits, locations and retrieves that worked before the front came through didn’t do well.
- Fishing without a Lo-K-Tor would be like a housewife running her kitchen without a stove – This one speaks to the importance of sonar (depthfinders) which was just revolutionizing the sport. One angler in the field was reported to have brought 3 portable Lo-K-Tors, using two as backups in case of failure. They were considered that important back then, and arguably are still that important (given the newer features, SI, DI, etc.) today.
- Baits used in a tournament might not be the best for the average fisherman – This one came from a contestant that suggested that unless you dedicated a lot of time to learning how to work some of these early lures, in the hands of the average fisherman, the baits were almost useless. This was often a thought of what separated the pros from the average fisherman back then.
A lot of these pro’s recommendations are just as valid today as they were nearly 50 years ago. Also nearly as valid is the authors concluding remarks that, “Tournament fishing is not – repeat not – for the great majority of average fishermen. It’s a specialty in itself.”