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…]

The Football Head – Just a Jig Head

Larry McCain developed the football head jig in 1965 - not because he thought it would work better but because it would come out of the mold easier. Photo Spring 1977 issue of Western Bass magazine.

Larry McCain developed the football head jig in 1965 – not because he thought it would work better but because it would come out of the mold easier. Photo Spring 1977 issue of Western Bass magazine.

Along around the 2000 timeframe, I was reading an article in In-Fisherman regarding a “new style” leadhead called the Rocker Head. As I read about how this jig would rock-and-roll over rocky structures and fall straight to the bottom quickly, I thought of a jig that I’d grown up fishing and had all these same attributes.

A few paragraphs into the article, I came to realize that the jig they were describing was indeed the jig that had been invented in the mid-60s in southern California – the football head. [Read more…]

Western Bass Volume 1 Number 1

The first issue of what would eventually become Western Bass magazine. Photo courtesy of Bill Rice.

The first issue of what would eventually become Western Bass magazine. Photo courtesy of Bill Rice.

For the early western bass angler, there was only one option to get up-to-date information on how to bass fish prior to 1973. That was by subscribing to Bassmaster Magazine. Of course you could subscribe to Sports Afield, Outdoor Life or Field and Stream but you had to wade through a lot of meaningless jibber having to do with hunting along with other species of fish.

Then in 1973 Western Bass Fishing Association filled a niche for the western angler by debuting the first western-centric bass journal called the Bassman’s Tournament Journal. In this newsprint publication they gave tournament results and some tips on how the best western pros of the day were catching their fish.

The photo here of Volume 1 Number 1 was provided by Bass Fishing Archives supporter Bill Rice and is the only photo I know that exists – let alone an actual copy of the paper. The text is difficult to make out at best but I was able to read the photo caption and transcribe it for you to read. It reads: [Read more…]

Twig Pigs and Bush Hogs – More Rip Nunnery

Rip Nunnery's record limit from Eufaula in 1969. Photo courtesy of Jon Kuch.

Rip Nunnery’s record limit from Eufaula in 1969. Photo courtesy of Jon Kuch.

It’s amazing what happens when you post something on the internet. What you think people will want to read you get few responses to and what you don’t think many will care about becomes a widely-read item. The former was the case with the story we posted last week about Rip Nunnery.

Rip’s story last week became the most talked about story we’ve posted since the piece we did about Aaron Martens’ first year on the SoCal tourney trail. Numerous emails and Facebook likes to mention.

Then, tonight I talked to an old friend, Jon Kuch, from SoCal who I grew up fishing with. Jon said he had a bunch of Rip’s old baits still in the package and an old pic of Rip, that Rip gave him, from the 1969 Eufaula tournament. He was kind enough to send them on to me to check out and I just had to share them with you. [Read more…]