Don Iovino – Western Doodle King

Don Iovino Bassmaster Classic XLV. Photo/Video Brenda Serrano.

Don Iovino Bassmaster Classic XLV. Photo/Video Brenda Serrano.

Not many people outside of the west know about Don Iovino – but you should. Iovino may not have been the angler who invented finesse fishing but in the west he was the guy who was the major proponent of light-line fishing and the use of electronics. Iovino was the guy who wasn’t just talking about fishing in deep water – and folks in the south, we considered deep water anything over 45 feet – but also fishing with lines as light as 6-pound test. [Read more…]

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…]

West vs. East

Western Legend Don Iovino graces the cover of the 1995 September/October issue of Bass West Magazine. 1995 was the first year of publication and this was Volume 1 Number 4.

Western Legend Don Iovino graces the cover of the 1995 September/October issue of Bass West Magazine. 1995 was the first year of publication and this was Volume 1 Number 4.

There’s always been a rivalry between the Western U.S. and the Eastern U.S. when it comes to bass fishing. It’s just a plain hard fact of the sport. Having grown up in the Western U.S. and lived there for nearly 50 years, I experienced it firsthand. It was like nothing “bass fishing” existed east of Oklahoma. Yeah, there were the freak fish caught by David Zimmerlee and Ray Easley in 1973 and 1981 and there was Dee Thomas, Gary Klein and Dave Gliebe who ventured back to the cradle of bass fishing and made names for themselves – but they too were freaks of sort – making an imprint on the scene with heavy line and big rods.

Talk to anyone in the East between the late 1970s and 1990s about Western bass fishing and I’m sure they would say one of two things: 1) They have bass in the West? or 2) They fish with sissy rods and 6-pound line. [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…]

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…]

WBFA Team Champs 1979

1978 Western Bass team Champions. Spring 1979 issue WBFA Magazine.

1978 Western Bass team Champions. Spring 1979 issue WBFA Magazine.

A couple weeks ago Brian started a piece called Bass History in Photos. In this column we show a historically significant picture and hopefully you all fill in some blanks or at least talk about it. Well, this time I have a picture that many of you won’t have a clue who is in the picture – unless you’re from the West and fished in the early days – so I feel a bit obliged to at least introduce some fo the players.

So, what do we have here? This is a piece from Western Bass Magazine (Spring 1979 issue) talking about the winners from the 1978 Team Championship held at Lake Mead.  Of you’re not from the West, only one name will ring a bell. Unfortunately, three of the other five names could have been nationally recognized had they chosen to venture East and fish the Bassmaster circuit. I don’t know much about the other two. [Read more…]

If it’s Good Enough for Billy – JW Lures Sweet Willie

1977 JW Lure Inc Sweet Willie.

1977 JW Lure Inc Sweet Willie.

They may not have been as big as Mister Twister, Creme or Mann’s Jelly Worms but the J.W. Lures Company was definitely on the map back in the early to late ‘70s. In 1973 their 13-inch Hawg Hunter worm set a record for the largest bass ever weighed in at a B.A.S.S. tournament, a 12-13 monster caught by Bob Tyndall out of Rodman Pool. A couple years later their 4-inch Ding-A-Ling was one of the first worms Don Iovino used to develop his Doodling technique prior to having Jim Smith of Smitty worms make one that would eventually display the Doodle King name.

One that you may have forgotten, though, was the Sweet Willie, backed by smallmouth bass expert Billy Westmorland. The worm was supposedly designed because of the increasing use of light line and rods – or what they still hadn’t defined as finesse fishing. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – The Anti-Bubba Answer and Winner (October 14, 2013)

Photo Bassmaster.com

Photo Bassmaster.com

Unfortunately no one won this week’s trivia contest – although they came close.  For the answers, look below.

Gary Klein has resided in Texas longer than many Bass Fishing Archives readers have been alive, so it’s easy to forget that his roots were in California. Specifically, he developed his skills early on at Lake Oroville, a typical deep western impoundment.

By the time his 30th birthday rolled around, he’d already won two B.A.S.S. tournaments, the 1979 Arizona Invitational on Lake Powell and the 1985 Georgia Invitational on Lake Lanier. The former, of course, is a western impoundment and the latter, with its deep clear water and spotted bass fishery, behaves like a western lake in many ways. In both cases he outlasted a legend of the sport to claim the victory – Bill Dance in Arizona and then Hank Parker in Georgia. [Read more…]

1978: Graphite – That’s so 1974

Phenix Rod ad from circa 1979 featuring 42 different rods models and the infamous trucker hat.

Phenix Rod ad from circa 1979 featuring 42 different rods models and the infamous trucker hat.

In 1974 Fenwick introduced the fishing industry to graphite as a material to replace fiberglass in rod construction. The difference was remarkable in more ways than one. First it was significantly lighter than glass but even more important, it was much higher in modulus thus creating a much faster rod. The other attribute that made graphite superior was its sensitivity. The old saying was “you could feel a fish breathe on your worm from a foot away.”

But before graphite finally took hold of the rod market around 1977 there was another material being touted as the new wonder material. That was boron. [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…]