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…]

American Bass and California Lunker Club?

American Bass Fisherman and California Lunker Club apparently were thinking of combining forces in the late 1974 time frame. It never stuck as Dave Coolidge, president of the CLC sold CLC to Western Bass. Article from the January/February issue of American Bass Fisherman magazine.

American Bass Fisherman and California Lunker Club apparently were thinking of combining forces in the late 1974 time frame. It never stuck as Dave Coolidge, president of the CLC sold CLC to Western Bass. Article from the January/February issue of American Bass Fisherman magazine.

We’ve done a lot of reporting on the old bass associations that have popped up and fizzled out over the years. Two of those we’ve spent a lot of time on were the American Bass Fisherman (ABF) and the California Lunker Club (CLC). ABF was actually taking a stab at B.A.S.S. for their anglers and doing a pretty good job at it until George Oates got convicted for fraud and the organization eventually sold out to National Bass Association, which folded a couple years later.

The California Lunker Club, on the other hand, was the brain child of Dave Coolidge and designed as an insurance policy for anglers in the event they caught a big fish. Join CLC for $10 per year and if you caught a big’un, you got you fish mounted for free.

CLC started in 1971 but by the time 1972 rolled around, bass tournament fever was sweeping the nation – California included. Coolidge held his first event in 1972 and the rest is history. [Read more…]

Don Doty – A Classic Qualification from the Back Seat

Photo January/February 1981 issue of Western Bass magazine.

Photo January/February 1981 issue of Western Bass magazine.

To many of you here reading this, the name Don Doty won’t mean much at all. In fact, his name hasn’t been associated with the sport since the late 80s. Even though his name is only recognized by a few older western anglers and maybe a few of the older Bassmaster pros, he will always be remembered for a record he holds that will never be broken.

Don Doty is the only angler to qualify for a Bassmaster Classic as a pure non-boater.

In the old days, when pro-on-pro draw tournaments existed, many times when the draw for partners happened, both anglers had a boat. There were a few methods in which the two anglers decided which boat would be used. For example, if one angler could convince the other he had better fish going, they might opt to use that anglers’ boat. Another method was, if you drew Roland Martin, Jimmy Houston or Ricky Green, there was no argument, you fished out of their boat. The other method was a coin toss. [Read more…]

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…]

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…]

WBFA Team Champs 1979

1978 Western Bass team Champions. Spring 1979 issue WBFA Magazine.

1978 Western Bass team Champions. Spring 1979 issue WBFA Magazine.

A couple weeks ago Brian started a piece called Bass History in Photos. In this column we show a historically significant picture and hopefully you all fill in some blanks or at least talk about it. Well, this time I have a picture that many of you won’t have a clue who is in the picture – unless you’re from the West and fished in the early days – so I feel a bit obliged to at least introduce some fo the players.

So, what do we have here? This is a piece from Western Bass Magazine (Spring 1979 issue) talking about the winners from the 1978 Team Championship held at Lake Mead.  Of you’re not from the West, only one name will ring a bell. Unfortunately, three of the other five names could have been nationally recognized had they chosen to venture East and fish the Bassmaster circuit. I don’t know much about the other two. [Read more…]

CAST Magazine and Charlie Evans

CAST Cover Jan-Feb 1984FLW Outdoors and its numerous fishing leagues are pretty much the only competition the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society has these days. This wasn’t so back in the early days of tournament bass fishing when you had circuits such as Western Bass Fishing Association (WBFA), U.S. Bass, Project Sports INC (PSI), Bass Caster’s Association (BCA), National Bass Association (NBA) and a bevy of other organizations vying for the professional bass spotlight.

But FLW Outdoors didn’t just appear out of nowhere to give ole’ Ma B.A.S.S. a run for her money. Instead the roots of FLW Outdoors can be traced to an organization called Operation Bass – or better known by many as The Red Man Circuit. [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…]

The U.S. Open 1981: An Event that Changed Bass Fishing – Part Two

Greg Hines holding $50,000 in cash on the third night of the 1981 U.S. Open. Photo Nov/Dec 1981 issue of Western Bass Magazine.

In Part One of this series we introduced the entrants of the event, talked a little about how it was a crap-shoot whether anyone would pay a $1,000 entry fee and finished by saying two anglers were spending copious amounts of time practicing for the event. Now we’ll look at the days leading up to the event along with the event itself.

 

Many months prior to the event it was quoted by a famous tournament organizer that, “There’s no way you’ll pull off a $1,000 entry tournament.” The naysayer couldn’t have been more wrong. Now the event had wheels – 161 of them to be exact – and there was no stopping the forward momentum.

An event of this magnitude, though, required a lot of planning and the folks at WBFA had their work cut out for them. The tournament would not only feature the main event itself, the tournament, but would also have a myriad of daily activities for the anglers’ wives and families. The event, as Vegas says, never slept. [Read more…]

The U.S. Open 1981: An Event that Changed Bass Fishing – Part One

The Press Guide from the 1981 U.S. Open. Courtesy of Bill Rice, long-time editor of Western Outdoor News and Western Bass.

This is part one of a three-part series on the first-ever U.S. Open hosted by Western Bass Fishing Association. The U.S. Open, at the time, had the largest payout ever for a bass tournament and drew anglers from all over the country. In this part, we’ll cover a bit of the history of what led up to the event along with an introduction of the anglers. I have to thank long-time editor of Western Outdoor News and Western Bass, Bill Rice, for the photos and for editing of this piece.

 

In 1981, competitive bass fishing was turned on its ear when Western Bass Fishing Association (WBFA) announced the plans to put on bass fishing’s highest-ever paying event at Lake Mead near Las Vegas, Nevada. Coined as the U.S. Open, the event had a $50,000 guaranteed first-place prize and over $180,000 in cash and prizes combined.

Numbers like these were unheard of at the time. The Bassmaster Classic, the biggest event in bass fishing at the time, was paying $40,000 to the winner and it wasn’t until 1983 when Bassmaster started the Super B.A.S.S. series of tournaments that the U.S. Open would be outdone from a winnings standpoint. [Read more…]