The Dog Days of Summer. It’s that time again. Time to take a quick look back at what was happening in the sport of bass fishing this month, 15, 20, even 50 years ago. One mention of note will be that after 12 years of being a fall event, the Bassmaster Classic moved to the summer in 1983, so a lot of the history this month will be focusing on those particular events.
15 Yrs Ago – Aug. 6-8,1998: He just recently retired from the sport, but after 16 years of trying, Denny Brauer got his only Bassmaster Classic victory on High Rock L. Denny weighed in a final day 16-04 stringer doing exactly what Denny did best, flipping heavy cover. Denny would amass winnings of nearly $2.6 million on the B.A.S.S. trail from over 300 events entered in addition to another 200k from FLW Outdoors events, including this years EverStart Series win while in “retirement”.
20 Yrs Ago – Aug. 12-14, 1993: It’s hard to say for certain at what point David Fritts made Poes crankbaits a household name among bass families, but his win on Lake Logan Martin using the bait certainly added to the deep cranking craze we bass anglers went through. Watching old videos of his win, watching David walk circles around his entire bass boat trying to wear a fish down is entertaining. He’d circle the entire boat, sometimes 3 complete times while dragging a fish to wear him out, then do a cradle lift beside the main seat compartment. You don’t see that technique done much anymore.
25 Yrs Ago – We’ve got two items of note worth mentioning for 1988. One was Guido’s Classic win that year using a Stanley Jig with a Guido Bug trailer. I had tackleboxes full of both at one point in time. Guessing many of you did, too. The other is a birthdate. While Guido was out winning Classics, the younger VanDam, Jonathon (JVD), was born on August 29 of that year. Only 25 years old, but already he has one Elite Series win to his credit…and Guido is still actively fishing tournaments, now days on the FLW Tour.
30 Yrs Ago – 1983: The first year that B.A.S.S. moved the Classic to the summer, and they held it on the Ohio River out of Cincinnati, OH. “The General”, Larry Nixon, would go on to win that event, also making another bait famous, the Ditto Gatortail Worm by Allen Lures. Larry used the black/blue tail version in a small backwater tributary down near the Markland Dam (Paint Lick Cr.). Interestingly, you might even make the argument that this was the birth of the popularity of the black/blue color pattern in baits, one that would ultimately settle as a standard in jigs. Remember those Stanley jigs with the black and blue fiber guard strands to compliment their skirts? Darn, they sure were pretty…
35 Yrs Ago – Does anyone recognize this face? The July/August 1978 issue of Bassmaster magazine was technically their first issue that featured a woman as their “cover girl”. I say technically because Dema Martin, wife of 1974 Classic Champ Tommy Martin, was pictured alongside her husband in a small inset photo on the cover of the February 1975 issue. Interesting thing with the lady pictured on the cover – to this day (last I heard), nobody still knows exactly who she is/was. If you know, we’d like to hear it!
50 Yrs Ago – Well before Ray Scott brought ‘Catch and Release’ to the forefront of bass anglers, biologists had a very different take on the issue. This was highlighted in an article featured in the August 1963 issue of Sports Illustrated titled, “This Is The Fish You Can’t Catch Too Many Of.” Among a host of things mentioned in the article, Dr. George W. Bennett, then chief of the Aquatic Biology Section of the Illinois Natural History Survey in Urbana, IL, commented that there should be no closed season on largemouths. “I don’t see how any honest biologist could back up that closed season business,” he stated. Additionally, Bennett also thought there should be no creel or minimum legal length limits in place because it was virtually impossible to fish out a bass pond.