Marketing Classic Winning Baits

1975 Rebel Super-R ad advertising Martin’s 1974 Classic win.

1975 Rebel Super-R advertisement.

Anytime a pro wins a major tour event, especially a high profile one like the Bassmaster Classic, it is just a matter of weeks, or sometimes even days, before the winning company tries to capitalize on the victory. Partly this is due to the immediacy of the Internet and social networking, and the “on demand” society we seem to have become. But it didn’t used to be that way, and someone had to be the first to tie the two concepts (tournament winning and advertising/bait sales) together. The Rebel ad in today’s post is likely one of the earliest examples of this melding of marketing and bait promotion. [Read more…]

Not so Bitter Anymore: The 1990 Golden Blend Championship

The cover of the January/February edition of Bass Fishing magazine, the publication of Operation Bass, had Jim Bitter front and center for his Golden Blend Championship win.

The cover of the January/February edition of Bass Fishing magazine, the publication of Operation Bass, had Jim Bitter front and center for his Golden Blend Championship win.

Back in November, we solicited information from readers about the history of the Operation Bass Golden Blend tournament series. We’d put together a basic outline of the circuit’s history, but we had little meat to put on those bones. Thanks to one of our great readers and supporters, Andy Williamson, we have a bit more to add.

In that original article, we mentioned Jim Bitter’s 1990 win on Lake Chickamauga. Specificially, we explained that “[t]he win marked a strong period in Bitter’s career, as he’d won MegaBucks IV on the Harris Chain two years earlier.” Left unsaid was the fact that it came on the heels of what is for many – fairly or unfairly – the defining moment of Bitter’s long career, his failure to win the 1989 Bassmaster Classic. As you may recall, Bitter had the winning fish in his hand, but when he went to re-measure it under the gaze of Tim Tucker’s camera, it slipped from his hand and back into the James River. Hank Parker ended up beating him by two ounces. Gone were not only the lasting glory of a Classic win, but also the $50,000 top prize. [Read more…]

Season at a Glance: Bassmaster Trail 1978 – Part Six

In 1978 Bobby Murray became the second angler to win two Bassmaster Classics. Photo by Stan Fagerstrom.

In 1978 Bobby Murray became the second angler to win two Bassmaster Classics. Photo by Stan Fagerstrom.

[Editor’s note: This is the final part of a six-part series on the 1978 Bassmaster Trail. Click the following links to read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four and Part Five.]

In the last installment of Season at a Glace – 1978 Bassmaster Trail we went over the Classic VIII contestants. Today we’re looking back at Classic VIII, an event held on Mississippi’s Ross Barnett Reservoir – or “The Rez” as it’s known to locals.

B.A.S.S. had visited The Rez numerous times before and with good reason – the lake flat produced. But by 1978, the lake was in its mid-life crisis, and not only were keepers hard to come by, there weren’t many fish at all. Top that off with the fact that the lake was 2 1/2-feet low and this seemed to be a recipe for a Classic disaster. [Read more…]

Zorro 1977

1977 Zorro Ad.

1977 Zorro Ad.

Stan Sloan will forever hold the distinction of being the first angler to win a Ray Scott event – winning the first All-American held on Beaver Lake in 1967. Sloan could also claim another first, that being the man who designed the built the bait that won the first Bassmaster Classic in 1971 at Lake Mead, NV. Over the course of his professional bass fishing career, Sloan never fished a full year on the Bassmaster Trail. The closest he came to that was the 1973 season where he fished five events. Most years he only fished two or three events, yet he made the Classic the first five years in a row.

Aside from being one of the top anglers in the early history of competitive bass fishing, Sloan was also a corrections officer, but more importantly, he was a superb bait maker. His Zorro Aggravator spinnerbaits were some of the most-used spinnerbaits of the time – winning numerous events in the early years. [Read more…]

Revisiting Lake Havasu – 1985

Rick in the Champions jacket, awaiting the signing of the check. photo by Rodney Boyd/FLW Outdoors.

Rick in the Champions jacket, awaiting the signing of the check. photo by Rodney Boyd/Operation Bass.

When the Bassmaster Elite Series anglers take off Thursday morning on Day 1 of the second arm of their Western series swing, this time on Lake Havasu, there will likely be some strong memories for several of the anglers. One of those will certainly be Rick Clunn. It was 30 years ago when Rick won the RedMan All-American, and the resulting $100,000 prize, his first such six-figure check. Back then, even the Bassmaster Classic only paid $50,000.

The magazine of Operation Bass at the time was called CAST Magazine, and they covered this event in their January/February 1986 issue at great length. Anglers took off each day from under the London Bridge – THE London Bridge from childhood song. The story of the bridge itself is rather fascinating. According to a Lake Havasu tourism website; [Read more…]

Classic Patches – 1971 through 1980

Bassmaster Classic I Patch. Winner Bobby Murray. Venue Lake Mead, NV.

Bassmaster Classic I Patch. Winner Bobby Murray. Venue Lake Mead, NV.

I Travel a lot for my day job, often times more than three weeks a month. The past four months have been especially difficult in that I’ve been on the road for more than 90-percent of that time. You know you travel a lot when you know, by name, flight attendants and hotel concierges – and I seem to know my share of them.

I bring this up for a couple of reasons. First I want to apologize to the readers and supporters of the site for not delivering better pieces – ones that I’ve either promised or need to do. Hopefully my day job will calm down some in the near future and I’ll be able to get back to the historical pieces I’ve had on the back burner for some time now. [Read more…]

How Stanley Jigs Was Born

Lonnie Stanley may not have invented the jig, but he sure made it and the spinnerbait much better baits.

Lonnie Stanley may not have invented the jig, but he sure made it and the spinnerbait much better baits.

The jig and pig is certainly not new to bass fishing. Jigs in various forms had been staples in anglers’ tackle boxes for generations before Bo Dowden won Bassmaster Classic X on the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York. Since that time, though, the simple combination of a hook, lead head, skirt and weedguard has been perpetually refined.

Lonnie Stanley, a two-time B.A.S.S. winner and five-time Classic qualifier, was one of the major players in those developments. He started Stanley Jigs in the early 1980s, and while he’s no longer the principal owner of the enterprise, he still works there nearly every day, designing new lures. [Read more…]

Season at a Glance: Bassmaster Trail 1978 – Part Five

1978 Bassmaster Classic Press Guide courtesy of Ken Duke.

1978 Bassmaster Classic Press Guide courtesy of Ken Duke.

[Editor’s note: This is Part Five of a six-part series on the 1978 Bassmaster Trail. Click the following links to read Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four.]

The 1978 Bassmaster Classic would feature the top-24 anglers from the Bassmaster Trail qualifiers plus one angler from the Federation. In years past, qualification was determined by a points system, 50 for 1st place, 49 for 2nd place, etc. This year, though, B.A.S.S. moved to a total weight system – one they’d use for a number of years thereafter.

In this installment of the 1978 Season at a Glance, we’re looking into the anglers who qualified for Classic VIII in the order of their Angler of the Year placement. Note that the data is taken from a 1978 Bassmaster Classic Media and Press guide provided by Ken Duke. [Read more…]

Season at a Glance: 1978 Bassmaster Trail – Part Three

Roland Martin wins his 5th AOY in 1978. Photo February 1979 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Roland Martin wins his 5th AOY in 1978. Photo February 1979 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

[Editor’s note: This is Part Three of a six-part series on the 1978 Bassmaster Trail. Click the following links to read Part One and Part Two. We’re sorry for the lack of a story yesterday – we were experiencing server problems and hope we got it figured out.]

By the beginning of May, the Bassmaster Trail was half way through the 1978 season with three Classic qualifiers completed along with the Bass Champs event. By that point the Bassmaster Angler of the Year race was getting pretty heated with Californian Dave Gliebe in the lead by 10 ounces followed by Jerry Rhyne. The top 10 was fairly stacked with anglers such as; Roland Martin (3rd), Larry Nixon (5th), Tom Mann (6th), Bobby Murray (7th) Rick Clunn (8th). See the table below for the entire top 40 in the 1978 AOY race. [Read more…]

Season at a Glance: 1978 Bassmaster Trail – Part Two

Larry Nixon, in his second season of Bassmaster competition was proving he was th real deal. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

Larry Nixon, in his second season of Bassmaster competition was proving he was th real deal. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

[Editor’s note: This is Part Two of a six-part series on the 1978 Bassmaster Trail. Over the course of the next two weeks we’ll cover the 1978 season, the Classic qualifiers and the 1978 Bassmaster Classic. To read Part One, click here.]

The first Bass Champs event was held in 1977 and pitted the top 10 from the previous Bassmaster Classic against 10 of the top anglers (2nd through 11th) from the B.A.S.S. Federation Championship – the 1st-place angler would go to the Bassmaster Classic. It was an event that didn’t count for much – there were no points towards AOY or Classic qualification – other than a decent pay day for the winner through 10th place and the thrill provided the amateurs of fishing against the toughest pros in competitive bass fishing. [Read more…]

More Bombers

1977 Bomber Speed Shad and Model A being sold in American Bass Fisherman magazine.

1977 Bomber Speed Shad and Model A being sold in American Bass Fisherman magazine.

A couple of weeks ago we did the first part of the 1978 Bassmaster season and in that article, we mentioned Hurley Board’s Lake Gaston win. Board attributed his win not just to sticking to his game plan but also to the use of a Bomber Speed Shad.

After that event, the Speed Shad became the predominant bait on both Gaston and Bugg’s (Kerr depending upon what side of the boarder you’re on) reservoirs. In fact, original Speed Shads are still in high demand for the North Carolina/Virginia boarder waters.

That article sent me on a mission to try and find an old Speed Shad ad to share with you – and I found one from 1977. Not only that, but I found three other Bomber ads dating from the same year, two of which feature crankbait legend, Floyd Mabry. [Read more…]

Western Bass Patches

The original mid-'70s Western Bass Fishing Association patch.

The original mid-’70s Western Bass Fishing Association patch.

A little over a year ago we did a short piece on the patches of western bass organizations. In that story we looked at two patches from the original western organizations, Western Bass Fishing Association and the Southwest Association of Bass Champions, that started in the early ‘70s along with the organization that bought and consolidated the two previous organizations, U.S. Bass. In this piece, thanks for Bass Fishing Hall of Fame inductee, Bill Rice, we have a more complete set of patches to share.

A little history before we start, though. Western Bass Fishing Association started in April, 1973 in order to bring competitive bass fishing to western anglers. The organization was based out of southern California and operated by Western Outdoor News. Not too long after that, the Southwest Association of Bass Champions (SWAB) was started in Arizona. [Read more…]