Let’s Look Back: A Friend Named Bill – Part 1

Having Bill Norman for a friend meant a great deal to me.  If this picture doesn't show a couple of guys having fun, I don't know what would. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Having Bill Norman for a friend meant a great deal to me. If this picture doesn’t show a couple of guys having fun, I don’t know what would. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

[Editor’s Note: The recent sale of Norman Lures to the PRADCO organization hadn’t yet been announced when Stan wrote the following column. The sale was announced in late November. Stan will bring things that the late Bill Norman started up to date in his Let’s Look Back column for January, 2016.]

Whenever we take time to look back over the high spots along the trail we’ve followed, we’re certain to remember especially well some of the special events that have transpired.

If certain of those events happened to involve special friends, they’re even more certain to be up close to the top of your tackle box of memories. One of mine took place eight years ago in Birmingham, Alabama.

The annual Bassmasters Classic back in 2007 was headquartered in Birmingham. There will be those reading this who undoubtedly were there. I was there too, but it was another event held in concert with the Classic that brought me. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Tackle Industry Friends Part 1

I didn't have any white in my whiskers when I first started corresponding with Homer Circle way back in the middle of the last century.  Over the years he was to become one of my closest friends.  Homer was working for the Heddon Tackle Company when our friendship first developed. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I didn’t have any white in my whiskers when I first started corresponding with Homer Circle way back in the middle of the last century. Over the years he was to become one of my closest friends. Homer was working for the Heddon Tackle Company when our friendship first developed. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

[Editor’s Note: Due to unforseen circumstances, we have not been able to post any stories for the better part of three months.  With this, we will be running two of Stan’s posts from August and September today and tomorrow in order to try and play catch-up with his column. We will also try and get back to posting on a more-regular basis.  We apologize for the lack of articles but the day job had severely hindered the time needed to provide meaningful pieces.]

There’s been a heap of change in this business of marketing baits designed to put bass in the boat since I did my first writing about it.

It was way back in the middle of the last century when I turned out my first fishing columns for a daily newspaper. The exact year was 1946. The way I went about getting details on new products I wanted to write about back in those early days provides one of glaring aspects of the changes I’m talking about.

And even more important, as far as I’m concerned, is how the tackle industry in those early days put me in touch with some lifetime friends. Some of those friends were instrumental in opening doors that led to me eventually having experiences I’d previously not even dreamed about having. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Abe Schiller Part 3

Abe Schiller checks out some of the lures he's going to show the bass at Lake Mead.  When I fished with him while aboard the big Flamingo Hotel's cruiser back in the 1950s we rarely ran into other bass boats. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Abe Schiller checks out some of the lures he’s going to show the bass at Lake Mead. When I fished with him while aboard the big Flamingo Hotel’s cruiser back in the 1950s we rarely ran into other bass boats. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Any time I take a look back at Las Vegas, Lake Mead and the earlier days of professional bass fishing it brings a mixture of memories – some good and some sad.

I expect many bass anglers will relate both Vegas and Lake Mead to the first Bassmasters Classic in 1971. I was there for that original Classic but my experience with both the city and the lake began well before that event took place. It’s also where some of that sadness I mentioned creeps into my memory.

I touched on some of that in my previous column. I told how I got my first look at Las Vegas in 1952. The beautiful Flamingo was then the only major hotel on what was to become the fabled Las Vegas Strip that we know today. [Read more…]

Marketing Classic Winning Baits

1975 Rebel Super-R ad advertising Martin’s 1974 Classic win.

1975 Rebel Super-R advertisement.

Anytime a pro wins a major tour event, especially a high profile one like the Bassmaster Classic, it is just a matter of weeks, or sometimes even days, before the winning company tries to capitalize on the victory. Partly this is due to the immediacy of the Internet and social networking, and the “on demand” society we seem to have become. But it didn’t used to be that way, and someone had to be the first to tie the two concepts (tournament winning and advertising/bait sales) together. The Rebel ad in today’s post is likely one of the earliest examples of this melding of marketing and bait promotion. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Classic Contestants 1973 (Answer & Winner; March 30, 2015)

Rayo Breckenridge holds the Classic III trophy and one of his final day's fish as Bill Dance holds Breckenridge's check. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

Rayo Breckenridge holds the Classic III trophy and one of his final day’s fish as Bill Dance holds Breckenridge’s check. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

Congrats to Rich Johnson for winning this week’s Trivia Contest sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits. For details on this pair of 1973 contestants, as well as some other interesting facts, keep reading.  

Back in the early days of the Bassmaster Classic, members of the press got personal invites to attend as writer-observers. In 1973 there were 50 members invited to the event held on Clark Hill Res. in South Carolina. One of those invited was Fishing Facts editor Spence Petros. Spence was to meet in New Orleans on October 22, and the following day he boarded a chartered jet where they flew off to the secret Classic location. After being up in the air for a while, Ray Scott opened a white envelope and announced the location from 30,000 feet. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Part 35

Two time Bass Classic winner Bobby Murray gets his share of fish on a Zara Spook.  And he didn't have to have quiet water to do it. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Two time Bass Classic winner Bobby Murray gets his share of fish on a Zara Spook. And he didn’t have to have quiet water to do it. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

America’s most popular sports fish doesn’t “always” do anything.

If you’ve read some of the millions of words I’ve written about largemouth bass over most of the past century you’ve undoubtedly seen me make that comment before. It’s my contention an angler can count on “usually” and “often” in their approach to this business of bass fishing. But stuff your “always” thinking where the sun don’t shine!

I’ve reached these sentiments after almost three quarters of a century of trying to put bass in the boat myself or watching and then writing about others trying to do the same. I hate to admit the number of times I’ve had things all figured out and then had those big mouthed buggers kick me and some of my bass fishing “facts” clear down to “Helen Gone’s” barn. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Classic Contestants 1973

Rayo Breckenridge holds the Classic III trophy and one of his final day's fish as Bill Dance holds Breckenridge's check. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

Rayo Breckenridge holds the Classic III trophy and one of his final day’s fish as Bill Dance holds Breckenridge’s check. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

Back in the early days of the Bassmaster Classic, members of the press got personal invites to attend as writer-observers. In 1973 there were 50 members invited to the event held on Clark Hill Res. in South Carolina. One of those invited was Fishing Facts editor Spence Petros. Spence was to meet in New Orleans on October 22, and the following day he boarded a chartered jet where they flew off to the secret Classic location. After being up in the air for a while, Ray Scott opened a white envelope and announced the location from 30,000 feet. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Part 34

It didn't take Bobby Murray long to show the bass fishing world his talents.  He brought this beautiful stringer to weigh in one day at the first Bassmasters Classic held at Lake Mead in 1971.  Bobby won the event.  He also took the Classic crown again 10 years later. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

It didn’t take Bobby Murray long to show the bass fishing world his talents. He brought this beautiful stringer to weigh in one day at the first Bassmasters Classic held at Lake Mead in 1971. Bobby won the event. He also took the Classic crown again 10 years later. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

As I detailed in my previous column, the “Dog Walker” rod Gary Loomis was marketing for a time in the early days of his rod building business was designed especially for fishing a Zara Spook.

He named these rods “Dog Walker” because it’s a technique called “Walking the Dog” that has kept Zara Spooks on the market ever since they were introduced by the Heddon Lure Company way back in 1939.

Did these lures start getting results right off the bat? They must have. The records show that the Spook was the first of the Heddon lures to top one million in sales. I’d also be willing to bet that this wondrous old lure has probably had as much or more written about it than any other bass bait. [Read more…]

Classic XLV Videos: How They Started – Kevin Short

Kevin (K-Pink) Short and two of hi Day 1 Classic fish. Photo/Video Brenda Serrano.

Kevin (K-Pink) Short and two of hi Day 1 Classic fish. Photo/Video Brenda Serrano.

The Bassmaster Classic Media Day offers media folks a great opportunity to find out from the anglers themselves how they think the Classic will pan out. It’s always great to hear what they think and who they feel will do well in the biggest event of the fishing year. [Read more…]

Classic XLV Videos: How They Started – David Walker

David Walker receives a Certificate of Appreciation from the Department of the Army for saving a man's life during Classic Practice. Photo/Video Brenda Serrano.

David Walker receives a Certificate of Appreciation from the Department of the Army for saving a man’s life during Classic Practice. Photo/Video Brenda Serrano.

The Bassmaster Classic Media Day offers media folks a great opportunity to find out from the anglers themselves how they think the Classic will pan out. It’s always great to hear what they think and who they feel will do well in the biggest event of the fishing year. [Read more…]

Classic XLV Videos: How They Started – Ott DeFoe

Ott DeFoe talks to Bassmaster emcee Dave Mercer about his day-1 Classic performance. Photo/Video Brenda Serrano.

Ott DeFoe talks to Bassmaster emcee Dave Mercer about his day-1 Classic performance. Photo/Video Brenda Serrano.

The Bassmaster Classic Media Day offers media folks a great opportunity to find out from the anglers themselves how they think the Classic will pan out. It’s always great to hear what they think and who they feel will do well in the biggest event of the fishing year. [Read more…]

The Bassmaster Classic – 1991 through 2000

Ken Cook hoists the 1991 Classic trophy for winning at the Chesapeake Bay, MD. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

Ken Cook hoists the 1991 Classic trophy for winning at the Chesapeake Bay, MD. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

By 1991 the Bassmaster Classic had become the event anglers aspired to win – weekend warriors through tour-level pros. The event had grown from a small gathering of anglers and media huddled together at the ramp in 1971 at Lake Mead, NV to sold-out stadiums in 1990. Although the event was centered around the anglers who qualified and the eventual winner, it grew into what we now know as Classic week filled with fan days, media events and one of if not the biggest public tackle shows in the world. [Read more…]