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…]

Don “The Doodle King” Iovino – An Era Ends

Don Iovino weighs one of the last fish of his 40-year tournament career at this year's WON Bass U.S. Open. Photo Don Iovino.

Don Iovino weighs one of the last fish of his 40-year tournament career at this year’s WON Bass U.S. Open. Photo Dan O’Sullivan.

The first time I met Don Iovino was in 1978 at a seminar at a tackle shop called Anglers West in Diamond Bar California – I was all of 14 years old and wanted to learn everything I could about bass fishing.

In those days you couldn’t open a Western Outdoor News, Western Bass magazine or SWAB periodical without seeing Iovino’s name within its confines. He was winning or placing high in nearly every event he entered and doing it in a most unorthodox manner – some new thing he’d developed called doodling. [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…]

West vs. East

Western Legend Don Iovino graces the cover of the 1995 September/October issue of Bass West Magazine. 1995 was the first year of publication and this was Volume 1 Number 4.

Western Legend Don Iovino graces the cover of the 1995 September/October issue of Bass West Magazine. 1995 was the first year of publication and this was Volume 1 Number 4.

There’s always been a rivalry between the Western U.S. and the Eastern U.S. when it comes to bass fishing. It’s just a plain hard fact of the sport. Having grown up in the Western U.S. and lived there for nearly 50 years, I experienced it firsthand. It was like nothing “bass fishing” existed east of Oklahoma. Yeah, there were the freak fish caught by David Zimmerlee and Ray Easley in 1973 and 1981 and there was Dee Thomas, Gary Klein and Dave Gliebe who ventured back to the cradle of bass fishing and made names for themselves – but they too were freaks of sort – making an imprint on the scene with heavy line and big rods.

Talk to anyone in the East between the late 1970s and 1990s about Western bass fishing and I’m sure they would say one of two things: 1) They have bass in the West? or 2) They fish with sissy rods and 6-pound line. [Read more…]

Early SoCal – Lake Henshaw

Lake Henshaw article from the February/March 1974 issue of American Bass Fisherman.

Lake Henshaw article from the February/March 1974 issue of American Bass Fisherman.

Recently I was reading a February/March 1974 issue of American Bass Fisherman magazine and was surprised when I saw a couple of articles about the west. What surprised me about them was; 1) ABF – or better known as the American-Florida Bass Fisherman – was based out of Florida, a continent away from the fledgling California bass scene and 2) one of the articles was penned by BFA contributor Bill Rice, while the other was about a pretty obscure reservoir just north of San Diego. This piece is about that reservoir, Lake Henshaw. [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…]

A Diamond isn’t Forever

Strike King Diamondback ad from 1976.

Strike King Diamondback ad from 1976.

What was the first plastic worm you ever fished? I’m sure for many of you your first plastic worm might have been a pre-rigged Crème or DeLong. The first plastic wiggler I used was a 4-inch purple, pre-rigged bait they sold at Lake Wohlford in San Diego – complete with red beads and a silver propeller. It was a sorry situation, I was about 8-years old and had no clue how to fish the bait so I’d cast to the cat tails and reel it back to the boat. Obviously I wasn’t met with much success.

By the time I was 10 I’d already been a subscriber to Western Outdoor News for a couple years, was fairly well read, and was learning about bass fishing. There was this rig that really intrigued me, a plastic worm rig that promised not to get hung up, in fact, it was weedless. It was the Texas rig – problem was the stores around my house that sold tackle and plastic worms didn’t sell anything but the pre-rigged plastics. [Read more…]

Florida-Strain Bass Changed the World of Bass Fishing

Photo Bassmaster Magazine Spring 1970. Article by Bill Rice.

Editor’s Note: Bill Rice has been writing about bass fishing since the mid-60s. Earlier this year we did a story on his career and today he offers up this account of how the Florida bass got their start in California and the ensuing race to catch  the world record largemouth bass. We hope you enjoy this historical look at how the Florida-strain largemouths got to California. To read about Bill’s life and career, please click here.

Few of today’s bass anglers know the history of “big bass” – which actually began thanks to the vision of a Californian, spurred on by an inquisitive pro baseball player.  That man was Orville Ball, fisheries biologist and head of the recreation program for the City of San Diego Recreation Department from the mid-50s until around 1969.  It was back in 1959 after a fishing trip with friends that Ball had the idea to experiment with the introduction of Florida-bred largemouth bass into the waters of Southern California. [Read more…]

The Writers – Bill Rice

Bill Rice hoisting a 12-02 Florida from San Diego’s Lower Otay Reservoir in 1971. Photo courtesy of Bill Rice.

Editor’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.

 

To kick off this series I turned to one of the most prolific writers in the history of the sport – Bill Rice. Although Bill may not be a household name to many of you east of the Continental Divide, talk to any bass angler in the west about Bill Rice and they’ll say, “He was there from the beginning.” In fact, Bill joined B.A.S.S. in 1968 and is one of the original 2500 Charter members.

After spending nearly 40 years in the industry, Rice retired in 2003 and now spends his time chasing fish all over the world.

This is a story of his lifelong contributions to the sport of bass fishing and his history. [Read more…]