[Editor’s Note: Ken Duke of Bassmaster.com wrote a fantastic article in August 2009 about Rip and his catch. To read his article, “World’s Greatest Fishing Hole,” click here. Also to read a second article on Rip, “Twig Pigs and Bush Hogs,” click here. I’d also like to thank Ken for bringing a couple of things to my attention. First, Rip’s real name is spelled with one ‘s’ (heck I just called him Rip) and two, he passed in 2007, not 2004. Thanks Ken for the heads-up!]
Everyone knows who holds the all-time one-day B.A.S.S. weight record. Dean Rojas, right? Dean had a magical day on Toho back in 2001 and brought five bass to the scales that weighed 45-02. Rojas also held the 4-day weight record (108-12) for a couple years until it was broken in 2007 by Steve Kennedy (122-14) and again by Paul Elias with an absolutely stupid mass of fish that weighed 132-08. Folks, that’s 20 fish that averaged 6.625 pounds each.
Yeah, those records are all cemented in our melons and we can spout them out like Rain Man at any moment we need. But who knows who holds the all-time one-day record for the original 15-fish limit and what it weighed?
I’m sure there are some really nerdy bass enthusiasts out there (Ken Duke, Pete and Brian) that know but I would be willing to bet that 98 percent of the bass fishing population hasn’t a clue who Douglas “Rip” Nunnery is and what he did on Lake Eufaula one July day in 1969.
Here’s a clip from the Fall ’69 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.
“Gerald Blanchard weighed in 15 bass that went 81 pounds and 7 ounces for third place – a fantastic stringer of fish for only the first day.
“Bill Dance came in with 15 lunkers weighing 83 pounds and Rip Nunnery of Huntington Park, California shocked everyone with a stringer that required assistance to get from the boat to the weigh-in area. Nunnery’s bass weighed 98 pounds and 15 ounces. This catch set another record for a daily catch.”
The catch itself is amazing but what’s also interesting is Rip was fishing with Blanchard and together they had 30 fish for 180-06 – in one day. That’s a 6-pound average for 30 fish.
Anyway, this catch has always been important to me because Rip and I were friends. Rip was one of the first people I met when I started working at the tackle shop in 1978 and definitely the first star I met – and believe me when I say we had a ton of stars drop by old Bob’s Fishing Tackle.
Rip rarely talked about his record day but sometimes when the shop was quiet, he’d reminisce about it. He’d talk about fishing against old “Billy Dance,” how he was asked to give a hook-setting demonstration and busted a rod handle (which he did often by the way) and how Blanchard’s boat had a leak in it and the fish were swimming in the bottom of the boat (on their stringers).
Rip’s fish were all mounted and displayed in another local shop (Fisherman’s Paradise) and every once in a while I’d go over to check them out. Below the mounts was a picture of Rip, Ray Scott, Bill Dance and Blake Honeycutt. The picture was signed by Ray Scott if I remember correctly.
Around the early 90s, Fisherman’s Paradise went out of business and Rip brought the fish over to Bob’s – where they still hang on the wall today, picture included.
Rip was a western legend before there were any western legends. He also holds a record that will never again be broken. If we look at the magnitude of this catch closely, we see how amazing it was. Fifteen fish for 98-15. That’s a 6.596-pound average, only a half an ounce per fish shy of Elias’ record average.
Blake Honeycutt won that event with 138-06 for 34 bass. That averages out to be roughly 4-pounds 1-ounce per fish.
Rip was an auto worker for General Motors through the 80s until he retired. All along he had a tackle company, Bandit Bass Lures, where he manufactured football heads (that’s another story for a later date), a jigworm called the Purple Bandit, spinnerbaits and a twin spin called the Double Bass Boober. He was also a factory rep for Wright McGill, Eagle Claw and Maxima fishing line.
Rip fished the southern California team events with his long-time partner Dan Feyo through the 80s until Feyo left for Minnesota. Rip continued to fish the local lakes and the inshore saltwater haunts until he could no longer fish. Rip passed away in 2007 – still the all-time one-day Bassmaster record holder.