Don “The Doodle King” Iovino – An Era Ends

Don Iovino weighs one of the last fish of his 40-year tournament career at this year's WON Bass U.S. Open. Photo Don Iovino.

Don Iovino weighs one of the last fish of his 40-year tournament career at this year’s WON Bass U.S. Open. Photo Dan O’Sullivan.

The first time I met Don Iovino was in 1978 at a seminar at a tackle shop called Anglers West in Diamond Bar California – I was all of 14 years old and wanted to learn everything I could about bass fishing.

In those days you couldn’t open a Western Outdoor News, Western Bass magazine or SWAB periodical without seeing Iovino’s name within its confines. He was winning or placing high in nearly every event he entered and doing it in a most unorthodox manner – some new thing he’d developed called doodling. [Read more…]

Jay Yelas – From Cheeseballs to Classic Winner

Jay Yelas ICAST 2014. Photo Brenda Serrano.

Jay Yelas ICAST 2014. Photo Brenda Serrano.

Around the 1988 time frame I was still working at the tackle shop and going to college. Although I wasn’t fishing, I kept up on what was happening on the tournament scene from the anglers who came into the shop. What happened in ’88 seemed to be a changing of the guard. Long time western pros such as Don Iovino, Bobby Garland, Fred Ward and Larry Hopper had a new angler to contend with – a kid just out of college named Jay Yelas.

I vividly remember some of the local anglers coming into the shop who fished the Red Man circuit in the day – guys that knew “The River Lakes” like the back of their hand. They were donating entry fees to Yelas’ graduate studies – his field of study being professional bass fisherman. [Read more…]

It Gitzit – The Genesis of the Tube

Garland Fat Gitzit ad from January 1982.

Garland Fat Gitzit ad from January 1982.

For those of you bass anglers that were west of Las Vegas, NV during the ‘70s, the name Bobby Garland will definitely bring back some memories. Garland’s Bass’N Man Lure Company was probably best known at the time as the company that developed the Spider Jig – the forerunner of what other companies would call Hula Jigs. But Garland didn’t only make the Spider Jig.

Garland, and his brother Gary, started out as crappie anglers and made the first dipped crappie jigs that I know of in the 1960s. They then bridged into making Mini Jigs, just bigger crappie jigs, and the Skinny Squid for bass. In fact, the Skinny Squid, a 5-inch long hollow worm, predated the Knight Tube Worm by at least five years.

Then came the Spider Jig. The skirt was a 3-inch piece of hollow plastic cut with razor blades to form the tentacles. This was then slipped on the Garland Spider Head along with a double tail trailer that Garland bought OEM from Mister Twister. The jig was developed as a swimming jig and was made primarily in shad-based hues in order to mimic baitfish – although he did offer the skirts and trailers in other colors. [Read more…]

Western Bass Tournament of Champions 1976

Page One Notes: (1) The Supersport worm mentioned by Burnett was actually a Sportsman's Super Floater. Western anglers used to cut the 4-inch and 6-inch worms from the egg sack to the tail and then weld in a piece of worm to keep the legs apart. (2) The "Mattie" written about was more than likely a jighead poured by Gardner, the mold, which was made by Larry McCain who has been written about here. The jig was essentially a skirted jighead with a spinner tailing off the end of the skirt. It was used for fishing ledges and points as a fall bait.

Dee Thomas accepts the 1976 WBFA TOC Trophy for 1st place and the keys to his new Terry ABF 15. Western Bass Spring 1977 issue.

I was going through the Spring 1977 issue of Western Bass magazine a couple of weeks ago and this article penned by Ben Burnett caught my eye. What initially got me interested was the picture of Dee Thomas and Terry Boats rep J.C. Dillard. Reading further, it was actually Dillard handing Dee the trophy and turning over the keys to his newly-won Terry ABF 15 bass boat from the Western Bass Fishing Association’s (WBFA) Tournament of Champions. The title of the piece, “Ridin’ With The Champions,” gave me more reason to read on.

As I read, it became apparent that Burnett had been invited as a guest writer/observer to the event. Not only that, WBFA director Harvey Naslund had placed him with two of the best anglers of the time, Dee Thomas and Pete Gardner. Between the two anglers, they’d won the 1974 and ’75 TOCs – Thomas winning in ’74 and Gardner in ’75. The ’76 event Thomas would take his second win in the coveted western event. [Read more…]

Patch Pirate Part II – Western Bass Organizations

Early western fishing organizations. On the left Southwest Association of Bass and on the right the Western Bass Fishing Association. Both organizations would eventually be bought and turned into the U.S. Bass organization.

Early western fishing organizations. On the left Southwest Association of Bass and on the right the Western Bass Fishing Association. Both organizations would eventually be bought and turned into the U.S. Bass organization.

In the first segment of Patch Pirate we presented four patches from three different organizations that were prevalent in the Midwest and Southern parts of the United States in the 70s and 80s. Today we’ll look at three organizations that made up the bulk of organizations in the West – namely Western Bass Fishing Association (WBFA), the Southwest Association of Bass (SWAB) and U.S. Bass. [Read more…]

The U.S. Open 1981: An Event that Changed Bass Fishing – Part Two

Greg Hines holding $50,000 in cash on the third night of the 1981 U.S. Open. Photo Nov/Dec 1981 issue of Western Bass Magazine.

In Part One of this series we introduced the entrants of the event, talked a little about how it was a crap-shoot whether anyone would pay a $1,000 entry fee and finished by saying two anglers were spending copious amounts of time practicing for the event. Now we’ll look at the days leading up to the event along with the event itself.


Many months prior to the event it was quoted by a famous tournament organizer that, “There’s no way you’ll pull off a $1,000 entry tournament.” The naysayer couldn’t have been more wrong. Now the event had wheels – 161 of them to be exact – and there was no stopping the forward momentum.

An event of this magnitude, though, required a lot of planning and the folks at WBFA had their work cut out for them. The tournament would not only feature the main event itself, the tournament, but would also have a myriad of daily activities for the anglers’ wives and families. The event, as Vegas says, never slept. [Read more…]

The Creature wasn’t from the Black Lagoon – or any other company

It’s been shown a few times here in the Bass Fishing Archives, and will be shown even more in the future, that what one person believes is new is just a rekindled thought of something old. Take for example the article posted on 4/20/2012 about the Whopper Stopper Dirty Bird. Well, here’s another example of something developed way-back-when that was reborn in the mid-90s not only with the same concept, but the same name for a genre of baits.

Scanning through the 1981 Jan/Feb issue of Western Bass Magazine I came across something that really jogged my memory – an article by soft-plastic jig inventor Bobby Garland. The piece was written by Garland in order to help readers learn more about his jig-fishing techniques and also show some of the secrets he employed while on the water. [Read more…]