If I had to pick a moment in bass fishing history when live bait become “the deal” for targeting giant bass, at least on a nationally known level, I’d personally point to the coverage of Ray Easley’s 21-pound beast caught on 8-pound line and a live crawdad back in 1980 from Lake Casitas. While the use of crawdads was popular to big bass chasers prior to that, the overall coverage to those of us not in California was a mixed bag. Previous to that time, it seemed like as much attention was devoted to tactics such as deep water lead core trolling (Doug Crandall), deep running crawdad crankbaits (Cliff Alderson), or worm fishing (Bill Beckum) as to live bait. Even ‘Lunker’ Bill Murphy was tagged as a deep-trolling lead-core specialist over other techniques (stitching, etc.) he later became famous for.
Along those lines, if I also had to pick an angler who I most associated with the use of live bait for giant bass, that would have to go to two guys; Bob Crupi and Dan Kadota. This past weekend, I pulled out an old VHS tape I hadn’t watched in quite some time called “Bodacious Bass,” A tape made in 1992 that featured these two anglers and discussed the specific aspects of their live baiting techniques.
In the nearly hour-long video, they break the process into a variety of segments, each covering key components of their system, combined with in-person interviews and on-the-water video. It starts with topics like map reading, then extends into rod and reel outfits (Shimano/Loomis), proper line selection (10-pound Trilene XT), hooks, and baits (crawdads, mudsuckers and waterdogs). The tape also covers their use of electronics (old Lowrance paper graphs) and their unique double-anchor system. Even things like proper coolers for keeping live bait lively are given some discussion. The guys pretty much left nothing to chance. Included in the video are also snippets of four different television shows they were featured in, including those from Roland Martin and Jeff Boyer.
As for accolades, individually, either Crupi or Kadota had represented California in the Goodyear/Bassin’ Big Bass World Championship 6 years in a row. Between the two of them, they were credited with over 175 largemouths topping the 10-pound mark. The year before the tape came out, Bob Crupi had also landed a 22-pound largemouth bass, a fish that just missed the world record mark by mere ounces. Not far behind, Dan Kadota had one over 19 pounds and one just under 19 to his credit, and had claimed to have lost two fish as large or larger. Danny owned and operated a sportboat out of southern Cal for many years. He went to freshwater fishing as a means to relax from his sportboat job. The key here is that sportboat operators are probably some of the best structure anglers there are. They know how to set up on structure based on every variable you could think of, and several made the conversion over to bass fishing rather easily. Needless to say, the guys had the credentials to back up their reputation as live bait/big bass specialists.
I’m guessing the tape has long been out of production, and trying to find a copy will probably be a chore. I’ve scanned Google and eBay at various times and hardly ever find a reference to it. I actually picked mine up through direct mail by calling the then-famous bait shop out at Lake Castaic that distributed them. That tackle shop was Claud and Shirley’s Mobile Mini Mart. According to Terry, they operated it from the time Castaic opened in the early 1970s until they closed it around the late 1990s. Terry stated, “It was sad to see it go as it was an institution at Castaic.” For all I know, I might be the only guy east of the Mississippi with a remaining copy – LOL. Needless to say, if you ever get a chance to pick one up and add it to your collection, I think it’s a nice change to the usual old books and magazines we tend to collect. Hopefully you’ll also have an old VHS tape player sitting around somewhere in the attic of your house to watch it on.