Who Was Virgil Ward?

Virgil Ward (left) and Smokey Falls display a hefty stringer of largemouth bass from Table Rock Lake on Ward's Spider Spins.

Virgil Ward (right) and Smokey Falls display a hefty stringer of largemouth bass from Table Rock Lake on Ward’s Spider Spins. Photo Don Fuelsch’s 1964 Southern Anglers and Hunters Guide.

Many of our “older” readers will certainly recognize the name, and even more so, remember his fishing show. As a pioneer in television fishing shows, Virgil Ward set the standard by which most all modern fishing shows followed when he created “Championship Fishing.” But you can’t be successful in television if you’re not successful on the water. Ward was both. As one of the earliest tournament competitors, he won the 1962 World Series of Sport Fishing, an event created and run by Sports Illustrated photographer and promoter Hy Peskin. He also created the Bass Buster Lure Company, maker of the infamous “Beetle” (Beetle Spin), and put lakes such as Table Rock and Norfork, amongst others, on the map as lunker bass destinations. [Read more…]

Field and Stream Goes Bass-Specific

Field and Stream's Bass Fishing specific publication from 1982.

Field and Stream’s Bass Fishing specific publication from 1982.

Field & Stream magazine, founded in 1895, has always aimed to be something of an outdoor generalist publication, with stories about bass fishing sprinkled intermittently throughout a buffet of features and tips dealing with other topics including hunting, conservation, survivalism and other gun-related issues.

The magazine has undergone several ownership and formatting changes over its 120 years of history, with the most recent sale occurring in 2007, when it was one of 18 magazines sold to the Bonnier Group, a Swedish entity. [Read more…]

Early Days of the Empire

1982 Bass Pro Shops ad and offer

1982 Bass Pro Shops ad and offer

We’ve spent a bit of time looking back at some of the first ads from Bass Pro Shops, with the majority of those items being dated from the mid- to late-1970s. Today, we have another old Bass Pro ad to share with you, this one from 1982, just a few years later than those earliest ones. This was a 2-page ad that appeared in Field & Stream magazine, but one I find rather interesting from several different perspectives – not the least of which is the headline to start the ad off, “We’re out to get your fishing tackle business.” Oh, how telling, but that’s just the beginning. [Read more…]

Christmas Gifts 1976 – Fenwick Lunkerstiks

1976 Bass Pro Shops Christmas ad for Fenwick Lunkerstiks.

1976 Bass Pro Shops Christmas ad for Fenwick Lunkerstiks.

Last year we ran a segment over the Christmas break that a lot of people seemed to enjoy. It was comprised of old Christmas ads from some of the magazines we have, namely from the 2-year-old Bass Pro Shops. Well, we still have a few of those BPS ads along with a couple others that we’ll share over the next few days.

Today we look at one of the items Johnny Morris had for sale during the 1976 Christmas holiday – Fenwick Lunkerstik 1400s. Graphite rods were well on their way to becoming the staple for all fishing and it seems that Morris may have bought all the glass Lunkerstiks that Fenwick had in stock. If you read the ad, you’ll see that he’s selling these glass rods, the best glass bass rods at the time, for under $19. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Ranger Boats Answer and WInner (December 15,2014)

Guess who has a new owner?

Guess who has a new owner?

Congrats to Rob Melendez for winning this week’s trivia contest sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits! For the answers to this week’s contest, please read below.

Seems like all the talk in the bass fishing world for the past several days has been about the new owner of Ranger Boats. Keeping this week’s trivia question timely, and perhaps a bit easier than the past couple, you’ll need to answer these 4 questions related to Ranger Boats in order to claim this week’s trivia prize, sponsored by Gary Yamamto Custom Baits. Good luck.

  1. The new owners now become the 5th entity to have owned Ranger boats since their start. Name all 5 company owners to date.
  2. May 1971 was a significant date in Ranger history. Why?
  3. Shortly after orders in the new Ranger Boat Co. took off, expanded operations were moved into a former dance hall in town. What was the  name of that old hall?
  4. Now a long time member of Triton Boats Pro Staff, what Elite Series pro traveled with Basil Bacon while he was on Ranger’s pro-staff back in the 80s?

The answers follow: [Read more…]

The First Family of Bass Boat Legends – Greene Boat and Motor – Part Two

In 1986 the Greene's moved from their second  Main Street location to the location they've been at since 1986.

In 1986 the Greene’s moved from their second Main Street location to the location they’ve been at since 1986.

[Editor’s note: This is Part-Two of the Greene Boat and Motor story. To read Part-One, click here]

In Part One of this series we talked about the beginning of Greene Boat and Motor in the ’20s, the two moves to Main Street, Spindale and the building of a business that has since spanned three generations. In Part two we’ll look at the final move to the current facility, a famous pointing duck, a family tragedy and the resurrection of the business.

Another Move

As the years went on the business got so big they had to move from the humble Main Street address to another property. This time they moved to a 22-acre piece of land and built the current shop – all to Hubert’s specific design requirements.

“When Hubert came home from work he’d pull out his paper and pencil and draw his dream boat shop,” Rose said. “He designed everything about the shop we’ve been in since 1986. He wanted the office area to be the center with wings that extended out from the office area for boat display, service and rigging. He didn’t want to have to walk very far to get to his customers. [Read more…]

American Angler’s Tackle Selection 1979

American Angler also tried to get into the fishing tackle sales business in the 70s. They weren't that successful.

American Angler also tried to get into the fishing tackle sales business in the 70s. They weren’t that successful.

Last Friday we ran a feature on The Outhouse, B.A.S.S.’s mail-order tackle shop, that was in business from the mid-‘70s through maybe the mid-‘80s. This week we’re going to cover another one of the magazine tackle shops, this time American Angler’s Selection.

By the late 70s, the success of Johnny Morris’ Bass Pro Shops was obvious – so obvious that nearly every magazine publisher in bass fishing was getting into the mail-order tackle business. John Fox’s American Angler was another of the organizations to open shop.

In each of their magazines of the day they had a four to five page section devoted to their shop with tackle for the season. The problem with American Angler’s tackle was they didn’t sell too many “name brand” manufacturers gear and when they did, it was generally the cheap stuff. [Read more…]

The Outhouse by the Bass Anglers Sportsmans Society

1977 ad for The Outhouse offering those interested in starting a franchise. Only $75K in investment money and a greater than 50K population required.

1977 ad for The Outhouse offering those interested in starting a franchise. Only $75K in investment money and a greater than 50K population required.

Over the course of time here we’ve posted a few stories about tackle shops and their successes and/or failures. For example, we posted a couple of stories on Ma-n-Pa shops and how they used to be the glue that held local anglers together in their community and how they’ve all but disappeared.

We’ve also posted some pieces on Johnny Morris and the early years of his now world-famous Bass Pro Shops, born from a $10,000 loan from his father and a corner in his liquor store, the Brown Derby. His success, started in the early 70s, grew by leaps and bounds within the first few years when, in 1974 he printed his first real mail order catalog of around 200 pages. By 1976 he was advertising in any and every outdoors magazine and even selling pre-rigged aluminum bass boats. Bass Pro Shops these days is a Fortune 100 company and a worldwide heavy hitter in the outdoor industry. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Tommy Martin Started Fast, Keeps on Going Answer and Winner (March 10, 2014)

Tommy Martin hoists the 1974 Bassmaster Classic trophy. Photo Bassmaster.com.

Tommy Martin hoists the 1974 Bassmaster Classic trophy. Photo Bassmaster.com.

Congratulations to Andy Williamson for winning this week’s trivia contest! For the answers read below.

As Terry has previously outlined, the 1974 Bassmaster Classic field was chock-full of anglers who became legends in the sport of bass fishing. Of the 29 competitors, though, only a few are still actively competing in tournaments for a living. Some, like Billy Westmorland, Rayo Breckenridge and Stan Sloan, have passed away. Others, including Johnny Morris, Al Lindner, Bill Dance and Bobby Murray, have pursued other opportunities in the industry. Meanwhile, even as relative contemporaries like Denny Brauer and George Cochran have retired, 40 years later Roland Martin, Rick Clunn and winner Tommy Martin keep on going strong. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Tommy Martin Started Fast, Keeps on Going (March 10, 2014)

Tommy Martin hoists the 1974 Bassmaster Classic trophy. Photo Bassmaster.com.

Tommy Martin hoists the 1974 Bassmaster Classic trophy. Photo Bassmaster.com.

As Terry has previously outlined, the 1974 Bassmaster Classic field was chock-full of anglers who became legends in the sport of bass fishing. Of the 29 competitors, though, only a few are still actively competing in tournaments for a living. Some, like Billy Westmorland, Rayo Breckenridge and Stan Sloan, have passed away. Others, including Johnny Morris, Al Lindner, Bill Dance and Bobby Murray, have pursued other opportunities in the industry. Meanwhile, even as relative contemporaries like Denny Brauer and George Cochran have retired, 40 years later Roland Martin, Rick Clunn and winner Tommy Martin keep on going strong. [Read more…]

Spreading a Little Christmas Cheer – 1

76 BPS Xmass 5We’re going to spread a little Christmas Cheer here the next week or so, courtesy of some old Bass Pro Shops Christmas catalogs.  We hope you enjoy the pictures and get a kick or two out of them.

So, to start off here’s a look at what a Fenwick Super LunkerStik would cost you at Christmas 1976. The original price of $23.99 is amazing let alone the Christmas deal of $18.88. At that price I wish I would have bought all 6000. I’m sure I could have made double the cost selling them to Rich Zaleski a few years later.

Season at a Glance – The 1976 Bassmaster Classic Contenders

in 1976 Jimmy Houston wold win the Bassmaster AOY award in only his second full-time year on the Trail.  Photo 1976 Sept/Oct issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

in 1976 Jimmy Houston wold win the Bassmaster AOY award in only his second full-time year on the Trail. Photo 1976 Sept/Oct issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

[Editor’s Note: This is the fourth story on the 1975 Bassmaster Trail season. To read part one of the 1976 Season at a Glance click here, to read part two click here and to read about the Federation National event click here.]

The 1976 Bassmaster Classic and its contenders have a lot of interesting history packed into it. For one, there were four 5-time Classic contenders, one 4-time contenders, five 3-time contenders and seven 2-time contenders. To say the field was stacked would be an understatement. That’s 17 out of 25 anglers, or 68% of the 1976 Classic contenders had Classic experience.

As amazing it was for so many past-Classic anglers to qualify, it was just as amazing who didn’t qualify. For example, Roland Martin, who’d made every (5) Classic since its inception, missed qualification by 6 points and finished in the 26th spot. The other 5-time qualifier who didn’t make it was Tom Mann who finished in 38th place. [Read more…]