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…]

Monday Trivia – January Bassmaster Events (Answers & Winner; April 13, 2015)

The Sunshine State is a popular January B.A.S.S. stop.

The Sunshine State is a popular January B.A.S.S. stop.

Unfortunately, nobody won this week’s Trivia Contest sponsored by Gary Yamamoto’s Custom Baits. For more about this week’s correct answers, read below.

When you think of Bassmaster tournament events, January isn’t necessarily the first month that comes to mind. While schedules have varied over the years, the winter has usually been considered kind of an off-season. As it turns out, there have been more than 2 dozen professional level events held by B.A.S.S. over the years that at least had one or more event days falling during some part of the month. Not surprisingly, nearly all of them were held in Florida. To win this week’s trivia contest, sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, you’ll have to brush up a bit on your January tourney knowledge and answer the following four questions correctly. [Read more…]

The First Season of the Red Man Trail

Red Man Tournament Trail Patch.

Red Man Tournament Trail Patch.

Many of us who immersed ourselves into the world of competitive bass fishing in the 1990s or after the turn of the century tend to assume that there were always stable nationwide organized circuits for the weekend angler. We may have known that what are now the BFLs were previously the Red Man circuit, but we don’t have a sense of when and where the Red Mans were born.

As Terry has detailed previously, old issues of CAST Magazine are a treasure trove of information about that era, and provide an incredible look back at the origins of the BFLs. [Read more…]

The Bassmaster Classic – 1991 through 2000

Ken Cook hoists the 1991 Classic trophy for winning at the Chesapeake Bay, MD. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

Ken Cook hoists the 1991 Classic trophy for winning at the Chesapeake Bay, MD. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

By 1991 the Bassmaster Classic had become the event anglers aspired to win – weekend warriors through tour-level pros. The event had grown from a small gathering of anglers and media huddled together at the ramp in 1971 at Lake Mead, NV to sold-out stadiums in 1990. Although the event was centered around the anglers who qualified and the eventual winner, it grew into what we now know as Classic week filled with fan days, media events and one of if not the biggest public tackle shows in the world. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Guido Gitzem at the St. Johns Answer and Winner (Dec 22, 2014)

Kevin VanDam. Photo Bassmaster.com.

Kevin VanDam. Photo Bassmaster.com.

Merry Christmas and congratulations to Steve Q for winning this week’s trivia contest sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits! For the answers to this week’s contest, please read below. The next trivia contest will be posted January 5, 2015.

It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when a Kevin VanDam top-10 finish was anything other than a routine occurrence, but if you head back to 1991, the 22 year-old Michigan pro was just getting started and not quite yet a household name. Fishing his 8th B.A.S.S. event that February on Florida’s St. Johns River, Van Dam finished second to veteran Guido Hibdon, and just ahead of another legend, Roland Martin.

The 1991 Florida Invitational on the St. Johns marked VanDam’s best B.A.S.S. finish to that point, besting the 3rd-place finish he’d earned the prior September on New York’s St. Lawrence River[], a tournament in which he also fell one place behind Hibdon in the final standings. He “finally” earned his first bass victory in December of 1991 at Lake Lanier where he outlasted six former and future Classic winners in the top 10, including Denny Brauer (2nd), Rick Clunn (3rd), David Fritts (4th), Bob Hamilton Jr. (6th), Mark Davis (10th) and – you guessed it – Hibdon (7th). [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Guido Gitzem at the St. Johns (Dec 22, 2014)

Kevin VanDam. Photo Bassmaster.com.

Kevin VanDam. Photo Bassmaster.com.

It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when a Kevin VanDam top-10 finish was anything other than a routine occurrence, but if you head back to 1991, the 22 year-old Michigan pro was just getting started and not quite yet a household name. Fishing his 8th B.A.S.S. event that February on Florida’s St. Johns River, Van Dam finished second to veteran Guido Hibdon, and just ahead of another legend, Roland Martin.

The 1991 Florida Invitational on the St. Johns marked VanDam’s best B.A.S.S. finish to that point, besting the 3rd-place finish he’d earned the prior September on New York’s St. Lawrence River, a tournament in which he also fell one place behind Hibdon in the final standings. He “finally” earned his first bass victory in December of 1991 at Lake Lanier where he outlasted six former and future Classic winners in the top 10, including Denny Brauer (2nd), Rick Clunn (3rd), David Fritts (4th), Bob Hamilton Jr. (6th), Mark Davis (10th) and – you guessed it – Hibdon (7th). [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Santee in ’97 Answer and Winner (Nov 24, 2014)

Photo Brent Chapman.

Photo Brent Chapman.

[Editor’s note: In observance of the Thanksgiving Holiday, no other features will be posted on today or Friday. Have a great Holiday and we look forward to seeing you next week with a full week of posts!]

Unfortunately no one won this week’s trivia contest sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits! For the answers, please read below.

Brent Chapman, the 2012 Bassmaster Angler of the Year, began his B.A.S.S. career at the 1994 Missouri Invitational on Lake of the Ozarks, where he finished 32nd en route to three straight money finishes. Things must’ve seemed easy to the young Kansan, but subsequently things got tougher as he won the grand total of $3,400 over the next 11 events he fished. He earned checks with some frequency throughout 1996 – five in 10 events – but never made it into the top 12 during that period. [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Santee in ’97 (Nov 24, 2014)

Photo Brent Chapman.

Photo Brent Chapman.

[Editor’s note: Although Thanksgiving falls on Thursday, Monday Trivia is still going to be played – with the winner being announced Thursday as usual. In observance to the Holiday, though, no other features will be posted on Thursday and Friday. We’ll be back next Monday with a full week of posts.]

Brent Chapman, the 2012 Bassmaster Angler of the Year, began his B.A.S.S. career at the 1994 Missouri Invitational on Lake of the Ozarks, where he finished 32nd en route to three straight money finishes. Things must’ve seemed easy to the young Kansan, but subsequently things got tougher as he won the grand total of $3,400 over the next 11 events he fished. He earned checks with some frequency throughout 1996 – five in 10 events – but never made it into the top 12 during that period. [Read more…]

Looking for Operation Bass Golden Blend Info

Golden Blend was a title sponsor for Operation Bass' attempt to give B.A.S.S. some competition. Unfortunately the circuit didn't last long and there's little information out there regarding it.

Golden Blend was a title sponsor for Operation Bass’ attempt to give B.A.S.S. some competition. Unfortunately the circuit didn’t last long and there’s little information out there regarding it.

Many modern fans of professional fishing assume that the FLW Tour was the first major competitor to B.A.S.S. Of course, that is not quite correct – over time, there were several national trails that tried to make a run at being the dominant circuit, or at least supplementing it. The truth is that the FLW Tour, founded under the Operation Bass umbrella, wasn’t even the first attempt by that organization to create some competition for Ray Scott’s baby.

Starting in the late 1980s, and running into the early ‘90s, Operation Bass operated the Golden Blend series of tournaments. They built upon the success of the original Red Man events, which catered to the “working man” – one-day weekend tournaments with low entry fees and a chance to qualify for the high payout All-American. [Read more…]

Champion Bass Magazine

The premier issue fo Champion Bass, put out by the same publisher of Bass West magazine.

The premier issue fo Champion Bass, put out by the same publisher of Bass West magazine.

Champion BASS magazine is another one of the short-lived bass magazines that many of us hoped would serve as a long-term supplement to the efforts of stalwarts like Bassmaster and In-Fisherman.

Within this issue’s advertisements, founder Ray Crosby made it apparent that he intended this one for mature audiences only: “Due to the advanced information contained in Champion BASS, it is NOT recommended for beginning or amateur bass fishermen,” he wrote. He further stated that he would not cover tournament results or politics, just hard core tournament tactics. Toward that end, he assembled a team including Jay Yelas, Kevin VanDam, Gary Klein, Ken Cook, Shaw Grigsy, Guido Hibdon and David Fritts to serve as regular columnists on the topics of their expertise. Berkley’s Dr. Keith Jones also penned an article under the heading “Bass Biology.” [Read more…]

Monday Trivia – Kirk Cashes In Answer and Winner (Oct 13, 2014)

Danny Kirk April 1999 Bassmaster Magazine/Gerald Crawford.

Danny Kirk April 1999 Bassmaster Magazine/Gerald Crawford.

We only had one person attempt this week’s Monday Trivia Contest sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits. Although he got the first three questions right, he missed the last one. We tried to determine if the answer given was in any way attached to the correct answer but couldn’t find any evidence of such. Come back again next Monday for the next round of Monday Trivia. For the answers, please read below.

Forty-two year old Danny Kirk could only manage 8 pounds 5 ounces of Kissimmee Chain bass during the January 1999 Florida Bassmaster Top 150 event, but it was enough to outlast Florida stalwarts Shaw Grigsby and Terry Segraves for the win. He beat them both by a margin of 7 ounces, which translated into a difference of over $60,000 in cash and merchandise. [Read more…]

A Look Through Bassmaster Magazine: 10 Years Ago

Bassmaster Magazine, March 2004

Bassmaster Magazine, March 2004

The fishing industry is always changing – new products, new companies, new anglers. I randomly grabbed a Bassmaster magazine sitting on my shelf from 10 years ago (March 2004) and was looking through the ads mostly, when it struck me how much has changed…and how much has stayed the same. Here’s what I found.

Starting off with the cover photo for this issue, a widely grinning Timmy Horton wearing a BOOYAH Baits visor. As best I can tell, it seems Timmy is no longer on their pro staff, a fairly recent event from what I can gather. Next is a big, two page ad for Lucky Craft, where I noticed all the crankbait lines available then are still available now. However, it appears their spinner line has changed, with the current website not showing the BMH and MH-1s from the ad. Looks like they’re sticking mostly with what made them famous, their hi-tech line of hard baits, now expanded and larger than ever. However, a quick look at the national pro staff pics from that ad did reveal a few personnel changes. Still around are Kelly Jordon, Tak, Skeet and Joe Thomas. However, it appears Gerald Swindle, Marty Stone and Mike Auten are no longer part of that team. [Read more…]