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…]

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…]

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…]