American Bass and California Lunker Club?

American Bass Fisherman and California Lunker Club apparently were thinking of combining forces in the late 1974 time frame. It never stuck as Dave Coolidge, president of the CLC sold CLC to Western Bass. Article from the January/February issue of American Bass Fisherman magazine.

American Bass Fisherman and California Lunker Club apparently were thinking of combining forces in the late 1974 time frame. It never stuck as Dave Coolidge, president of the CLC sold CLC to Western Bass. Article from the January/February issue of American Bass Fisherman magazine.

We’ve done a lot of reporting on the old bass associations that have popped up and fizzled out over the years. Two of those we’ve spent a lot of time on were the American Bass Fisherman (ABF) and the California Lunker Club (CLC). ABF was actually taking a stab at B.A.S.S. for their anglers and doing a pretty good job at it until George Oates got convicted for fraud and the organization eventually sold out to National Bass Association, which folded a couple years later.

The California Lunker Club, on the other hand, was the brain child of Dave Coolidge and designed as an insurance policy for anglers in the event they caught a big fish. Join CLC for $10 per year and if you caught a big’un, you got you fish mounted for free.

CLC started in 1971 but by the time 1972 rolled around, bass tournament fever was sweeping the nation – California included. Coolidge held his first event in 1972 and the rest is history. [Read more…]

CLC 1 – May 1974

The first issue of only four issues printed of the California Lunker Club Newsletter. May, 1974. With full permission.

The first issue of only four issues printed of the California Lunker Club Newsletter. May, 1974. With full permission.

We’ve posted a few stories (here and here) in the past about the California Lunker Club and its meager beginnings in 1971 to offer California bass anglers an insurance policy to mount a fish. Not long after that founder Dave Coolidge expanded the CLC into a tournament organization, the first in California, in order to bring like-minded bass anglers together. The concept was friendly competition and also provide a forum to learn from each other and make friends.

The concept took hold and within a couple years the organization grew to a point that Coolidge couldn’t afford it anymore. That’s when Western Bass, formed in 1973, stepped up and took CLC off of Coolidge’s hands. [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…]

A Look in the Western Rear View Mirror

Don Crozier hoists his winning fish from a 14-foot aluminum boat he used in the tournament. Photo courtesy of Dave Coolidge CLC magazine 1974.

Although the South Eastern part of the country had had organized bass tournaments since the mid-60s, the Western part of the country, namely California, fell a little behind the curve. This was mostly due to the fact that the state had made it illegal to fish for more than a couple-hundred dollars and the fishermen at the time were not interested in leaving the confines of their clubs – or zip codes.

The California Lunker Club (CLC) changed all of that, though, in 1972. As written before (see The California Lunker Club: Dave Coolidge – Part One and Part Two), Coolidge formed the first organized tournament organization in California and within 2 years it became such a success that it was purchased by Western Outdoor News and assumed into the newly-formed Western Bass Fishing Association. Competitive bass fishing had made its mark in the West. [Read more…]

SoCal Sticks of the Past – “Lunker” Bill Murphy

“Lunker” Bill Murphy. Photo reprinted with permission from Dave Coolidge.

Bill Murphy needs no introduction when it comes to bass fishing. He is arguably one of the fathers of trophy bass hunting and his tenure on the water yielded an almost-uncountable number of fish over ten. To top this off, Murphy did a lot of his best work during the early stage of the Florida Revolution in San Diego – a time when the big-fish population was being born. He learned his skills on the water and taught himself the ways of the big girls. He had no instructor or mentor – he was the Yoda of the day. [Read more…]

The California Lunker Club: Dave Coolidge – Part Two

This is part two of a two-part article on the first California bass tournament organization. This article was completed in part by interviewing Dave Coolidge, the founder of the California Lunker Club (CLC) and taking excerpts from the August 1974 issue of the CLC magazine. Excerpts are italicized. To read Part One, click here.

In Part One, Dave Coolidge talked about the humble beginnings of the CLC and how he brought together bass anglers from San Diego to Los Angeles. In Part Two, Coolidge discusses those early tournament days, the difficulties he had with CA DFG officials that Catch-and-Release was good and how he turned public perception of bass tournaments around in California.

[Read more…]

The California Lunker Club: Dave Coolidge – Part One

This is part one of a two-part article on the first California bass tournament organization. This article was completed in part by interviewing Dave Coolidge, the founder of the California Lunker Club (CLC) and taking excerpts from the August 1974 issue of the CLC magazine. Excerpts are italicized

Competitive bass fishing in the west has to pay homage to one dedicated angler – the man that started it all in California. Yes, before him, there were bass clubs and club tournaments but until January 1972, there was no tournament organization in California, let alone the west as a whole.

The person to blame, so-to-speak, for the beginning of western bass tournaments is Dave Coolidge. What started out as a simple organization to help anglers pay for their wall-mounts, the California Lunker Club (CLC) turned into the first tournament organization in the west.

This article is about Dave Coolidge and his dream to bring bass anglers throughout California together into a cohesive group where learning and sharing would expand the sport.

[Read more…]