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…]

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…]

Bass Club News via the May 1974 CLC

May 1974 California Lunker Club Magazine Bass Club Reports. Courtesy of Dave Coolidge.

I know this is really southern California-centric but I’m posting it for two reasons. One, I want to put out some old material for my friends in California and two, it’s a calling card for any of you readers who may have similar reports stashed away in your closet.

For those of you who reside in Cal (or lived there) and fished during those early years of competitive bass fishing, I hope you enjoy reading these club reports. Not many of these clubs exist today, if any, but I’m sure you’ll recognize a lot of the anglers, some of which are still competing. [Read more…]

Klein Wins at Clear Lake

Gary Klein 1981. Photo Western Bass magazine 1981

Here’s one for ya. Everyone worth their weight in tungsten knows who Gary Klein is. He’s fished 390 tour-level tournaments (346 with BASS and 44 with FLW) since 1979 of which he’s placed in the money 270 times (235 with BASS and 35 with FLW). He’s won 8 Bassmaster events and two FLW Tour events, qualified for the Bass Master Classic 29 times and the Forrest Wood Cup each of the six years he fished FLW. He has 88 top-10 finishes (77 with BASS and 11 with FLW) and has won a ton of cash in the process.

Klein won his first BASS event at the Bass Master Arizona Invitational held on Lake Powell in 1979 at the age of 21 and nearly won BassMaster Angler of the year that same year – Roland Martin beat him out by a little under two pounds. [Read more…]

Western Champions – 1976

Western Bass 1976 AOY Standings. Reprinted from the Winter Issue of the Western Bass Fishing Association. Permission granted.

Although the West is looked at as the red-headed step child of bass fishing, its relevance to the sport is pretty astonishing. Over time, a fairly large number of techniques were born in the west – eventually moving east – and a few of its pros either participated in the early events while still maintaining their western roots, or, in the case of Gary Klein and Jay Yelas, moved to more central locals.

[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…]