Let’s Look Back: “You Gotta Make ‘Em Talk” – Part 1

My friend Blackie Lightfoot pulled the bass boat you see here all over the United States. He'd get together with writers and guides along the way and show them the different lures available from the PRADCO people he was working for. Here I boat a nice bass that Blackie had hooked on one of his favorite lures. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

My friend Blackie Lightfoot pulled the bass boat you see here all over the United States. He’d get together with writers and guides along the way and show them the different lures available from the PRADCO people he was working for. Here I boat a nice bass that Blackie had hooked on one of his favorite lures. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

[Editor’s note:  This submission was to be posted April 1, 2016.  I light of my travel schedule and the fact I had very intermittent internet access the last month, I was unable to post it.  Stan’s May submission – Part 2 of this series – will post tomorrow.] 

This column has a dual purpose.

One is that I want to tell you about a guy whom I always felt was one of the best bass anglers I ever met.  The second is to tell you about his favorite lure and exactly what he had to do with it to get the results he was after.

Probably the easiest way for me to do that is to share an experience I had once while fishing with my good friend Steve Fleming, of Fossil, Oregon.  Steve operates the much respected Mah-Hah outfitters operation out Fossil.  For years he has been a top guide on Oregon’s John Day River. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Tackle Industry Friends Part 2

When I found lures that would catch fish for me it was great to be able to share a boat with the guy who was bringing those baits to the tackle shelves.  The late Bill Norman was a friend of mine.  I learned a good bit about his baits on the fishing trips I made with him. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

When I found lures that would catch fish for me it was great to be able to share a boat with the guy who was bringing those baits to the tackle shelves. The late Bill Norman was a friend of mine. I learned a good bit about his baits on the fishing trips I made with him. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I miss those days. If you’ve been around as long as I have, I expect you do too.

What days am I talking about? I miss those days when if you had a question about a specific item of fishing tackle you could usually go right to the guy who had his name on it to get the answers. Even if he didn’t actually have his name on it, it wasn’t hard to find out who he was.

I didn’t, of course, have a chance to meet all of them back there 69 years ago when I first started writing but by golly I did get to meet quite a few. I’m talking about guys like Bill Norman, Cotton Cordell, Dick Kotis, Jim Bagley, Gary Loomis, Tex Reeder, Phil Jensen and a number of others.

One of the lure manufacturers I’ve always wished I’d had opportunity to meet was Fred Arbogast. That didn’t happen because Fred was already producing the first of his famous to be line of bass lures about the time I came into the world away back in 1923. [Read more…]

Your Legacy Will Live On Harold

Harold Sharp B.A.S.S. Tournament Director 1970 to 1986.

Harold Sharp B.A.S.S. Tournament Director 1970 to 1986.

Without fail, it seems every year one of bass fishing’s forefathers passes to the great lake in the sky and the sport is left with a gaping hole. In 2012 we lost Homer Circle and in 2013, Doug Hannon. In January of this year we lost lure giant Cotton Cordell and I was hoping that would be it – there just aren’t many of the old-timers left – and from my selfish perspective, they have so much to offer with respect to the history of our beloved sport.

Then last week, we lost a man who helped change the sport of bass fishing to make it what it is today. That man was Harold Sharp. Yes, Ray Scott gets the credit for starting the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society – that fact will never be argued. And, Ray started the sport the right way, by making sure there was a firm set of rules and that every angler adhered to them. But it was Harold Sharp who, along with Ray Scott, wrote the B.A.S.S. rules, regulations and bylaws, started the B.A.S.S. Chapter (what would eventually become The Federation/Nation) and started the Chattanooga Bass Club – all in the same night. (if you’d like to read the story, click on this link from one of Harold’s columns back from March, 2013) [Read more…]

Spinnerbaits 1977

Doc Moorehead's Floozy spinnerbait with a plastic curl-tail skirt. This skirt, which came out before Mister Twister's rendition, resulted in a law suit.

Doc Moorehead’s Floozy spinnerbait with a plastic curl-tail skirt. This skirt, which came out before Mister Twister’s rendition, resulted in a law suit.

After four days of Classic coverage we’re back home and back to the grind. So, we’re going to take a little diversion this week and look at old ads. First up on the list is spinnerbaits – a bait that played a huge role in the first six Classic wins – either as the main bait or as a supplement to the winning angler.

In 1971 Bobby Murray won on a Zorro, in ’72 Don Butler won on an S.O.B., in ’74 Tommy Martin used a Fleck Weed Wader, as did Jack Hains in ’75 and in ’76 Rick Clunn followed suit with the Weed Wader. [Read more…]

Thank You Cotton

Left to right: Odis Young, Cotton Cordell and Fred Young compare Big-Os. Photo Todd Long, fishingforhistory.com

Left to right: Odis Young, Cotton Cordell and Fred Young compare Big-Os. Photo Todd Long, fishingforhistory.com

There are lure designers, seems every garage has at least one, and then there are lure designers. In our time there have only been a few true icons in the industry – Jim Bagley, James Heddon, Bill Norman and Lauri Rapala are a few of them that come to mind. All of these designers left an impression on the industry and sport that will live forever, not only in the books but on the local tackle shelves. They all created baits that were just successful back in the day, they’re still successful today.

The list of lure designers above, all have one thing in common – they’ve all passed on to that big pond in the heavens. [Read more…]

Grip Lip – Yep a Gimmick

Cordell Grip Lip from 1977. Being that it wasn't around past 1980 shows it not only failed to grip the fish, it failed to grip the angler.

Cordell Grip Lip from 1977. Being that it wasn’t around past 1980 shows it not only failed to grip the fish, it failed to grip the angler.

While scanning through a set of 1977 Bassmaster Magazines doing research for the series, Season at a Glance: 1977 Bassmaster Trail, I came across an article on a new gadget at the time, the Cordell Grip Lip. I’m not sure how many of you out there remember this nifty little invention but I sure do. In fact, I was so impressed with the article in the July/August issue of Bassmaster I bought a couple packs of the Velcro fish magnets when they finally showed up at the local tackle store one pack for worms the other a pack for hardbaits.

I was so sure that this would be the cure-all to my missed worm fish and maybe even put a few more topwater fish in the well for me. Oh to be a gullible 13 year old. [Read more…]

Cotton’s Crabs – Say What?

1972 Fishing Facts sale ad for Cotton's Crab (click to enlarge)

1972 Fishing Facts sale ad for Cotton’s Crab (click to enlarge)

Alright, so the title alone probably has you wondering just what in the heck this post is going to be about. While it certainly might be fun to see what ideas people could come up with as to subject matter, we are in fact staying on topic and venturing into the realm of crankbaiting today.

The Cordell Tackle Co. is well known for a variety of baits, many of which we’ve mentioned before on the site. Names like Crazy Shad, Red Fin, Boy Howdy, Hot Spot and Big-O. One you don’t hear mentioned much was a diving bait in the style of the famous Hellbender or original Bomber. [Read more…]

In-Fisherman’s First “Ads”

What's special about this particular issue of IF?

What’s special about this particular issue of IF?

I wanted to follow-up more on the earliest In-Fisherman magazines, as I’ve become a bit obsessed lately with this period in bass fishing history. In Tuesday’s piece about the first In-Fisherman magazine ever published, I mentioned their initial trumpeting of being a magazine not beholden to advertisers, as there were none in those early issues. That initial concept lasted less than a year though. In the May 1976 edition, they included the first “ads” to be published in the magazine. However, Al didn’t refer to them as such in his opening editorial. [Read more…]

This Month in Bass Fishing History

Today, a look back at was was happening in bass fishing history for the month of April.

'Fish Chris' of the former "Trophy Bass Only" website

‘Fish Chris’ of the former “Trophy Bass Only” website

10 YEARS AGO: April 10, 2003, and “Fish Chris” Wolfgram, host of the then “Trophy Bass Only” website catches his personal best largemouth weighing 18.4lb from Rancho Seco, California. The bass becomes the new Rancho Seco lake record, but this fish is only the start of a string of giant California big bass catches that is about to go down over the next couple months. [Read more…]

The Writers – George Kramer

George KramerEditor’s Note: This series is dedicated to those people who penned the many articles we read in order to learn more about our sport and become better anglers. Sure it was the anglers who developed the techniques, lures and equipment we use today but it was the writers’ job to make sure these bits of information got to the masses. Without the writers to communicate this, the world of bass fishing would be very different today.

For those of you outside the West, the name George Kramer may not ring a bell. For those in the West, though, the name resonates – longtime writer, longtime supporter, longtime critic. He’s the guy that came up with the California Top 40 – a ranking system that gives credit to the West’s best bass anglers each year. [Read more…]

Got Worms?

Creme plastic worms circa mid-1960s still in their packs. Note the two weedless hooks pre-rigged in the bait. Photo Terry Battisti.

Editor’s Note: I’d like to thank Stan Fagerstrom for allowing me to photograph some of his old tackle used in this article.

For those of you out there who are certified worm freaks, here’s a blast from the past with respect to some worm-fishing history. Although Nick and Cosma Creme are rightfully credited with being the first people to develop what is known as the contemporary plastic worm (made out of PVC plastic), DeLong Lures actually started before (1946) the Cremes went into business in 1949. [Read more…]

Old Boat Ads – 1972

Arrow Glass Trophy Mark VI Ad 1972

Now we’re rolling. In the 1971 version of Old Boat Ads we featured eight boat companies and their bass boat ads. This was up from four companies displaying their wares from 1970 magazines. The manufacturers present in ’71 were Astroglass, Glastron, King Fisher (Master Molders), MonArk, Ouachita, Ranger, Rebel and Thunderbird.

In 1972, though, five more companies decided to participate in the Bass Boat Ad campaign, while a couple may have decided their money would be better spent in areas other than advertising. In any event, the ads from 1972 showed that the bass boat market was getting really competitive and boat companies were beginning to jockey for market share just by the number of ads placed and the fact they were showing multiple boat models in their ads.

Here are the ads I was able to come up with form the year 1972. I hope you enjoy this look back in time. [Read more…]