San Vicente – Then, Now and the Future

Target For Lunker Hunters by Chuck Garrison. Spring 1977 issue of Western Bass magazine.

Target For Lunker Hunters by Chuck Garrison page one. Spring 1977 issue of Western Bass magazine.

If you’ve followed the southern California bass scene since the 70s, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of Lake San Vicente – simply called San V by locals. Recently I was reading a 1977 issue of Western Bass magazine and came across an old article penned by the late Chuck Garrison about the famed lake. It brought back memories, but it also brought to mind what could be brewing in the near future. I’ve included the article in full here for all to read in order to give you an idea of what a lake it was in its early days. It’s possible that we could see a resurrection of sorts as this old lake gets a face lift. You’ll see why as you read more.

While San Diego lakes such as Miramar and Lower Otay made national headlines in the early ‘70s, it was San V that stole the limelight in the mid to late ‘70s with an onslaught of teeners caught by lunker hunters such as “Lunker” Bill Murphy and Bobby Sandberg. [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…]

History in Photos – An Homage to Bill Murphy

Lunker Bill Murphy, 1972

Lunker Bill Murphy, 1972

A few weeks ago Brian started a piece here called “History in Photos.” Well, today I thought I’d give my part in that with a person who deserves all the words in the world – then some.  Here are some photos supplied by Bill Rice of Lunker Bill that I’m sure few have seen. Bill Rice, thanks for the photos and Lunker Bill, thank you for all you did for us. In these photos with Lunker Bill is his longtime partner Jim Patten. [Read more…]

Pisces Bass Club – The Club To Belong To

Pisces Bass Club Article. Photo courtesy of Bill Rice. Origin unknown.

Pisces Bass Club Article. Photo courtesy of Bill Rice. Origin unknown.

My first recollection of the Pisces Bass Club was from around the 1972 time frame when I first subscribed to southern California’s weekly fishing paper, Western Outdoor News (WON). Thumbing through the paper each week I’d see pictures of huge bass that were taken out of the San Diego lakes by anglers such as “Lunker” Bill Murphy, Mike Folkestad and others. The photo captions would generally go like this: “Lunker” Bill Murphy (Pisces) caught this such-and-such pound bass stitching a worm off Murphy’s Rock at Lake Wholford….”

I had no clue what the Pisces in parenthesis meant, maybe he was that astrological sign, but I do know one thing, (Pisces) was in a lot of picture captions and not just “Lunker” Bill’s pictures. [Read more…]

Thank You Bass Professor

This is the cover shot of the first article ever written about Doug Hannon in Bassmaster Magazine. January 1978 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

This is the cover shot of the first article ever written about Doug Hannon in Bassmaster Magazine. January 1978 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Since we started the Bass Fishing Archives in March of 2012, a number of legends have passed. It’s one of those things we expect as people get older but it’s also something that still surprises us when it happens. Last year when Uncle Homer went to that big lake in the sky, we all were surprised but not shocked as he was pushing the century mark. This week, though, I would venture to say we all were startled when we started hearing rumblings of Doug “The Bass Professor” Hannon passing away.

I personally refrained from the internet jabber about the event. First off, Hannon was too young and secondly, you can never believe what’s said on the internet unless it comes from a solid source. I sent out emails to some friends in the industry who would know of the unfortunate event – yet I didn’t get any replies. This can both be good and bad. [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…]

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…]

The Birth of the Swimbait

“Lunker” Bill Murphy with a 14-04 he caught out of San Vicente Reservoir. Photo Western Bass Magazine Spring 1979 Issue.

There have been quite a few firsts that have come out of California with respect to bass techniques. No one can dispute that Flipping didn’t come from the Golden State and arguments can be made that a specific form of split-shotting and doodling were developed on the “left” coast. Although the drop-shot rig was brought over from Japan (via Connecticut some might say), it was the California anglers that made the technique famous when they began winning tour-level events with it. [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…]

Some Western Records of the Past(?)

Some of the first recorded California records. Reprinted from the June, 1974 CLC. Reprint permission from Dave Coolidge.

Here’s a snap shot  of some “old” records from the annals of California bass fishing lore. These records, all held by California Lunker Club members, reveal quite a bit of interesting information. For one, out of the 10 lake records held by CLC members, only three are “teeners,” the rest being all under that magic 13-pound mark. And, of all the fish that weighed under that mark, only one was a Florida. Initiallly, Floridas were only stocked in the San Diego lakes but eventually they spread throughout the state via CA-DFG  stocking programs. For me, it’s really nostalgic to see the northern strain records for lakes I fished as a kid. [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…]