Not so Bitter Anymore: The 1990 Golden Blend Championship

The cover of the January/February edition of Bass Fishing magazine, the publication of Operation Bass, had Jim Bitter front and center for his Golden Blend Championship win.

The cover of the January/February edition of Bass Fishing magazine, the publication of Operation Bass, had Jim Bitter front and center for his Golden Blend Championship win.

Back in November, we solicited information from readers about the history of the Operation Bass Golden Blend tournament series. We’d put together a basic outline of the circuit’s history, but we had little meat to put on those bones. Thanks to one of our great readers and supporters, Andy Williamson, we have a bit more to add.

In that original article, we mentioned Jim Bitter’s 1990 win on Lake Chickamauga. Specificially, we explained that “[t]he win marked a strong period in Bitter’s career, as he’d won MegaBucks IV on the Harris Chain two years earlier.” Left unsaid was the fact that it came on the heels of what is for many – fairly or unfairly – the defining moment of Bitter’s long career, his failure to win the 1989 Bassmaster Classic. As you may recall, Bitter had the winning fish in his hand, but when he went to re-measure it under the gaze of Tim Tucker’s camera, it slipped from his hand and back into the James River. Hank Parker ended up beating him by two ounces. Gone were not only the lasting glory of a Classic win, but also the $50,000 top prize. [Read more…]

The First Season of the Red Man Trail

Red Man Tournament Trail Patch.

Red Man Tournament Trail Patch.

Many of us who immersed ourselves into the world of competitive bass fishing in the 1990s or after the turn of the century tend to assume that there were always stable nationwide organized circuits for the weekend angler. We may have known that what are now the BFLs were previously the Red Man circuit, but we don’t have a sense of when and where the Red Mans were born.

As Terry has detailed previously, old issues of CAST Magazine are a treasure trove of information about that era, and provide an incredible look back at the origins of the BFLs. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Carving up the St. Johns Answer and Winner (January 12, 2015)

Kim Carver. Photo FLWOutdoors.com.

Kim Carver. Photo FLWOutdoors.com.

[Editor’s note: Remember, the rules have changed for the Monday trivia contest. You are now allowed to win three times per calendar year rather than three times only.]

We had two people answer the trivia contest this week and by virtue of answering first, congratulations to Steve Quinn for winning!  For the answers please read below.

Kim Carver may not be a household name to many of the more recent vintage of bass fishing fans, but the Georgia pro has had a solid career on the water. Among those who follow the sport closely, he’s probably best known for his $100,000 victory in the 1998 Red Man All-American on the Mississippi River out of Lacrosse, Wisconsin, where the leaderboard included a who’s-who list not only of Red Man superstars, but also current Elite Series pros Skeet Reese (6th), Jeff Kriet (13th), David Walker (17th), Steve Kennedy (23rd), Stephen Browning (24th) and John Murray (39th). He’d been the runner up in the prior year’s All-American in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Along the way, he’s notched six other Red-Man/BFL wins, including three Regionals, with the most recent victory coming on his home lake, Sinclair, in May of 2014. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Carving up the St. Johns (January 12, 2015)

Kim Carver. Photo FLWOutdoors.com.

Kim Carver. Photo FLWOutdoors.com.

[Editor’s note: Remember, the rules have changed for the Monday trivia contest. You are now allowed to win three times per calendar year rather than three times only.]

Kim Carver may not be a household name to many of the more recent vintage of bass fishing fans, but the Georgia pro has had a solid career on the water. Among those who follow the sport closely, he’s probably best known for his $100,000 victory in the 1998 Red Man All-American on the Mississippi River out of Lacrosse, Wisconsin, where the leaderboard included a who’s-who list not only of Red Man superstars, but also current Elite Series pros Skeet Reese (6th), Jeff Kriet (13th), David Walker (17th), Steve Kennedy (23rd), Stephen Browning (24th) and John Murray (39th). He’d been the runner up in the prior year’s All-American in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Along the way, he’s notched six other Red-Man/BFL wins, including three Regionals, with the most recent victory coming on his home lake, Sinclair, in May of 2014. [Read more…]

Looking for Operation Bass Golden Blend Info

Golden Blend was a title sponsor for Operation Bass' attempt to give B.A.S.S. some competition. Unfortunately the circuit didn't last long and there's little information out there regarding it.

Golden Blend was a title sponsor for Operation Bass’ attempt to give B.A.S.S. some competition. Unfortunately the circuit didn’t last long and there’s little information out there regarding it.

Many modern fans of professional fishing assume that the FLW Tour was the first major competitor to B.A.S.S. Of course, that is not quite correct – over time, there were several national trails that tried to make a run at being the dominant circuit, or at least supplementing it. The truth is that the FLW Tour, founded under the Operation Bass umbrella, wasn’t even the first attempt by that organization to create some competition for Ray Scott’s baby.

Starting in the late 1980s, and running into the early ‘90s, Operation Bass operated the Golden Blend series of tournaments. They built upon the success of the original Red Man events, which catered to the “working man” – one-day weekend tournaments with low entry fees and a chance to qualify for the high payout All-American. [Read more…]

From Marilyn Monroe to Ott Defoe

Lauri Rapala - the founder of Rapala Lures.

Lauri Rapala – the founder of Rapala Lures.

Rapala hard baits continue to play a significant role in the efforts of both top-flight tournament anglers and weekend warriors alike. For example, the DT6 contributed to Randy Howell’s winning catch at the 2014 Bassmaster Classic and the DT Series in general has developed a dedicated following. The Shad Rap has been a cold weather staple for three decades. Other lures like the X-Rap and the Husky Jerk continue to fill store shelves and anglers’ boats.’

As a result of these later products, the original Rapala Floating Minnow gets scant attention from the tournament set, many of whom dismiss it as a “pond bait” Occasionally it gets some press, and on the Rapala website Bernie Schultz is quoted as saying: [Read more…]

Mercury’s Lake-X – Part Two

The infamous Lake-X observation tower. Photo Brenda Serrano.

The infamous Lake-X observation tower. Photo Brenda Serrano.

Yesterday we posted Part One of a piece on Mercury Marine’s Lake-X. Today we present Part Two of that tour with Elite Series angler Bernie Schultz and John Litjens – a long-time Mercury employee and manager of Lake-X. [Read more…]

Mercury’s Lake-X – Part One

Kelly Johnson of Lockheed fame had his Skunk Works. Mercury Marine's Carl Kiekhaefer had his Lake-X. Shown the the building where Kiekhafer and his crew of mechanics, drivers and engineers secretly worked on Mercury outboards for nearly half  century.

Kelly Johnson of Lockheed fame had his Skunk Works. Mercury Marine’s Carl Kiekhaefer had his Lake-X. Shown is the building where Kiekhafer and his crew of mechanics, drivers and engineers secretly worked on Mercury outboards for nearly half century. Photo Brenda Serrano.

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending this year’s precursor to ICAST, a function known as Tackle-X, held on the hallowed grounds of Mercury Marine’s mysterious Lake-X. An “invite only” event, Tackle-X would bring industry, media and the Kirchman Foundation together for a relaxed day at the lake to talk fishing, meet with old friends and new, and visit a place few have tread on. Here’s the lead-in to the invite: [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – That Old College Try Answer and Winner (Dec 16, 2013)

College Roland from bassmasterdotcomCongratulations to John Karbowski for winning this week’s trivia contest! For the answers, please read below.

Most serious bass-heads know that Gary Klein is generally regarded as the first “straight out of high school” bass pro, but many well-known pros attended college before embarking on their angling career. That number figures to grow with the increasing popularity and availability of college bass teams.

In recent weeks, we’ve highlighted Chad Brauer’s college choice as well as the fact that Randy Moseley attended three different schools. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – That Old College Try (Dec 16, 2013)

Photo Bassmaster.com

Photo Bassmaster.com

Most serious bass-heads know that Gary Klein is generally regarded as the first “straight out of high school” bass pro, but many well-known pros attended college before embarking on their angling career. That number figures to grow with the increasing popularity and availability of college bass teams.

In recent weeks, we’ve highlighted Chad Brauer’s college choice as well as the fact that Randy Moseley attended three different schools. [Read more…]

CAST Magazine and Charlie Evans

CAST Cover Jan-Feb 1984FLW Outdoors and its numerous fishing leagues are pretty much the only competition the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society has these days. This wasn’t so back in the early days of tournament bass fishing when you had circuits such as Western Bass Fishing Association (WBFA), U.S. Bass, Project Sports INC (PSI), Bass Caster’s Association (BCA), National Bass Association (NBA) and a bevy of other organizations vying for the professional bass spotlight.

But FLW Outdoors didn’t just appear out of nowhere to give ole’ Ma B.A.S.S. a run for her money. Instead the roots of FLW Outdoors can be traced to an organization called Operation Bass – or better known by many as The Red Man Circuit. [Read more…]