Early Days of the Empire

1982 Bass Pro Shops ad and offer

1982 Bass Pro Shops ad and offer

We’ve spent a bit of time looking back at some of the first ads from Bass Pro Shops, with the majority of those items being dated from the mid- to late-1970s. Today, we have another old Bass Pro ad to share with you, this one from 1982, just a few years later than those earliest ones. This was a 2-page ad that appeared in Field & Stream magazine, but one I find rather interesting from several different perspectives – not the least of which is the headline to start the ad off, “We’re out to get your fishing tackle business.” Oh, how telling, but that’s just the beginning. [Read more…]

Christmas Gifts 1976 – Fenwick Lunkerstiks

1976 Bass Pro Shops Christmas ad for Fenwick Lunkerstiks.

1976 Bass Pro Shops Christmas ad for Fenwick Lunkerstiks.

Last year we ran a segment over the Christmas break that a lot of people seemed to enjoy. It was comprised of old Christmas ads from some of the magazines we have, namely from the 2-year-old Bass Pro Shops. Well, we still have a few of those BPS ads along with a couple others that we’ll share over the next few days.

Today we look at one of the items Johnny Morris had for sale during the 1976 Christmas holiday – Fenwick Lunkerstik 1400s. Graphite rods were well on their way to becoming the staple for all fishing and it seems that Morris may have bought all the glass Lunkerstiks that Fenwick had in stock. If you read the ad, you’ll see that he’s selling these glass rods, the best glass bass rods at the time, for under $19. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Ranger Boats Answer and WInner (December 15,2014)

Guess who has a new owner?

Guess who has a new owner?

Congrats to Rob Melendez for winning this week’s trivia contest sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits! For the answers to this week’s contest, please read below.

Seems like all the talk in the bass fishing world for the past several days has been about the new owner of Ranger Boats. Keeping this week’s trivia question timely, and perhaps a bit easier than the past couple, you’ll need to answer these 4 questions related to Ranger Boats in order to claim this week’s trivia prize, sponsored by Gary Yamamto Custom Baits. Good luck.

  1. The new owners now become the 5th entity to have owned Ranger boats since their start. Name all 5 company owners to date.
  2. May 1971 was a significant date in Ranger history. Why?
  3. Shortly after orders in the new Ranger Boat Co. took off, expanded operations were moved into a former dance hall in town. What was the  name of that old hall?
  4. Now a long time member of Triton Boats Pro Staff, what Elite Series pro traveled with Basil Bacon while he was on Ranger’s pro-staff back in the 80s?

The answers follow: [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – The Stone Pony Answer and Winner (August 11, 2014)

Marty Stone. Photo Bassmaster.com

Marty Stone. Photo Bassmaster.com

Editor’s Note.  In light of the fact that no one answered the questions correctly today, we would normally not have a winner. But, since Steve M got both parts of Question 4 correct and we didn’t catch the incorrect answers for 1, until we already posted he won, we’re going to give it to him this time. For the answers to this week’s contest, read below.

In a B.A.S.S. career that spanned the years from 1993 through 2010, Marty Stone earned two wins, the first of which came during a challenging event on Alabama’s Lake Wheeler in March of 1999. While Wheeler today is known for producing large quantities of bass, even if they’re not typically as big as those in neighboring Guntersville, it was a stingy fishery during the 1999 Bassmaster Top 150. After inclement weather forced the cancellation of Day One, it took less than 16 pounds over two days to make the top 40 and the money. [Read more…]

Smallmouth Magazine

Smallmouth Magazine published by Smallmouth Inc, began in 1987 and lasted five years. Photo cover of the March/April 1990 issue.

Smallmouth Magazine published by Smallmouth Inc, began in 1987 and lasted five years. Photo cover of the March/April 1990 issue.

When Ray Scott founded B.A.S.S. in 1967, the “B” stood for “Bass” – not specifically largemouth bass. It was meant to be inclusive, certainly with smallmouths and spotted bass under its umbrella. Later, long after he’d sold the organization, they expressly embraced bass diversity to include the so-called “B.A.S.S. Slam” of nine different species. Nevertheless, for a majority of bass anglers, in the early years the de facto meaning of the “B” was largemouth, since green bass were generally more readily available nationwide. There was certainly coverage of the other species of bass, but it was limited, and B.A.S.S. did not hold a major tournament on a traditional northern fishery until 1977 when Jim Rogers won the New York Invitational on the St. Lawrence River (Terry previously discussed Roger Lures and the associated tackle store here). [Read more…]

American Angler’s Tackle Selection 1979

American Angler also tried to get into the fishing tackle sales business in the 70s. They weren't that successful.

American Angler also tried to get into the fishing tackle sales business in the 70s. They weren’t that successful.

Last Friday we ran a feature on The Outhouse, B.A.S.S.’s mail-order tackle shop, that was in business from the mid-‘70s through maybe the mid-‘80s. This week we’re going to cover another one of the magazine tackle shops, this time American Angler’s Selection.

By the late 70s, the success of Johnny Morris’ Bass Pro Shops was obvious – so obvious that nearly every magazine publisher in bass fishing was getting into the mail-order tackle business. John Fox’s American Angler was another of the organizations to open shop.

In each of their magazines of the day they had a four to five page section devoted to their shop with tackle for the season. The problem with American Angler’s tackle was they didn’t sell too many “name brand” manufacturers gear and when they did, it was generally the cheap stuff. [Read more…]

Git Off Your Duff

Fangard Bass Pro Pole ad from 1982.

Fangard Bass Pro Pole ad from 1982.

Young anglers nowadays probably have no idea how anglers fished back in the day. Boats of the ‘60s, ‘70s and even through the ‘80s were sold one way – with “captain’s chairs” fore and aft. In fact, the higher-end boat companies not only sold their boats with these chairs, they offered chairs with arms as an upgrade. Nearly everyone sat when they were fishing – standing only when they hooked a fish or got a snag.

The trend to stand while fishing took a while for the everyday angler to catch on. In the small boats of the day, remember boats at the time were between 15- and 17-feet long, it was difficult to stand in rough water and no one wanted to take the chance of leaving the seats behind in the event the weather kicked up. [Read more…]

The Outhouse by the Bass Anglers Sportsmans Society

1977 ad for The Outhouse offering those interested in starting a franchise. Only $75K in investment money and a greater than 50K population required.

1977 ad for The Outhouse offering those interested in starting a franchise. Only $75K in investment money and a greater than 50K population required.

Over the course of time here we’ve posted a few stories about tackle shops and their successes and/or failures. For example, we posted a couple of stories on Ma-n-Pa shops and how they used to be the glue that held local anglers together in their community and how they’ve all but disappeared.

We’ve also posted some pieces on Johnny Morris and the early years of his now world-famous Bass Pro Shops, born from a $10,000 loan from his father and a corner in his liquor store, the Brown Derby. His success, started in the early 70s, grew by leaps and bounds within the first few years when, in 1974 he printed his first real mail order catalog of around 200 pages. By 1976 he was advertising in any and every outdoors magazine and even selling pre-rigged aluminum bass boats. Bass Pro Shops these days is a Fortune 100 company and a worldwide heavy hitter in the outdoor industry. [Read more…]

Don Brashears’ Pro Bass Shop

Don Brashears' Pro Bass Shop #1 ad circa 1974.

Don Brashears’ Pro Bass Shop #1 ad circa 1974.

I’ve only been to Missouri once and that was about a 5-hour stay – total. I rolled into Springfield one morning around 5:00 a.m., got a hotel for two hours, woke up and headed to Mountain Home, AR to pick up a boat. On the way home, I stopped again in Springfield to visit the original Bass Pro Shops and three hours later (and about $300 lighter) I headed back across the plains to Idaho  – boat in tow.

The more I read and talk to people, though, the more I wish I’d grown up in the Missouri/Arkansas/Kansas area. I mean I’d always noticed that a lot of the greats in bass fishing history hailed from the Midwest but I never really knew much other than that. Heck, great bass fishermen can come from anywhere – even a state thought to have limited bass fishing such as Idaho. Well, in my early years, the Midwest may as well have been Idaho for all I knew. [Read more…]

It’s Real Folks – 40 Years of Service

Ad for Bass Pro Shops first mail order catalog placed in American Bass in 1974.

Ad for Bass Pro Shops first mail order catalog placed in American Bass in 1974.

It’s hard to fathom bass fishing and fishing in general without Johnny Morris’ Bass Pro Shops. In fact, they’ve been around so long there are a couple generations of anglers that haven’t lived without the ability to thumb through the giant catalogs or now venture online and make an order. Hard to believe, huh?

Prior to 1974, Bass Pro Shops had been in business for a couple years but only through the Brown Derby Mercantile in Springfield, MO. Then in ’74, the bass fishing world was turned on its ear when Morris sent out his first mail order catalog. [Read more…]

Spreading a Little Christmas Cheer – V

76 BPS Xmass 8We’re going to end the year with one last look at the 1976 Bass Pro Shops Christmas catalog. This time we’re looking at a Bass Pro deal on a box of worms I’d gladly pay quadruple for right now. Not for historical reasons but because they worked.

In the gift package they offer 60 6-inch worms, 24 3-inch grubs, a yellow Bass Pro worm box and a gift card – not sure what the gift card was but it didn’t cost anything. All this for the cost of $12.99.

Like I said, if offered today I’d pay $50 for the gift pack, throw away that gaudy, heat warping yellow box, sell the 3-inch grubs on eBay and place the worms in a newer 3700-style box for my use. [Read more…]