Pisces Bass Club – The Club To Belong To

Pisces Bass Club Article. Photo courtesy of Bill Rice. Origin unknown.

Pisces Bass Club Article. Photo courtesy of Bill Rice. Origin unknown.

My first recollection of the Pisces Bass Club was from around the 1972 time frame when I first subscribed to southern California’s weekly fishing paper, Western Outdoor News (WON). Thumbing through the paper each week I’d see pictures of huge bass that were taken out of the San Diego lakes by anglers such as “Lunker” Bill Murphy, Mike Folkestad and others. The photo captions would generally go like this: “Lunker” Bill Murphy (Pisces) caught this such-and-such pound bass stitching a worm off Murphy’s Rock at Lake Wholford….”

I had no clue what the Pisces in parenthesis meant, maybe he was that astrological sign, but I do know one thing, (Pisces) was in a lot of picture captions and not just “Lunker” Bill’s pictures.

Pisces club members circa 1972. Notice the young Mike Folkestad standing at the front left. Photo courtesy of Bill Rice.

Pisces club members circa 1972. Notice the young Mike Folkestad standing at the front left. Photo courtesy of Bill Rice.

It wouldn’t be until 1975 that I would finally realize what Pisces meant. That was the year I joined Western Bass Fishing Association (WBFA) and started receiving their quarterly magazine. In the magazine they had club reports, which generally gave tournament results. I’d read the reports each issue and was always amazed what the Pisces club had done.

Pisces Bass Club at San Diego's Lower Otay Reservoir circa 1971. Photo courtesy of Bill Rice.

Pisces Bass Club at San Diego’s Lower Otay Reservoir circa 1971. Photo courtesy of Bill Rice.

By the time 1978 rolled around I had my first job at the tackle shop where I got to rub elbows with the southland’s best anglers. It wasn’t long after I started that job when I began to hear rumblings of the Pisces Club, its members and really how good they were. From time to time members such as Folkestad and Rich Humphries would come into the store. I was in awe when they talked. Being only 14 and very green, I’d just sit back and listen to the stories they’d tell about a recent club tournament they just had or how their club members kicked everyone’s butts at a recent Western Bass or SWAB (South West Association of Bassmasters) tournament.

Pisces Bass Club 1972. Photo courtesy of Bill Rice.

Pisces Bass Club 1972. Photo courtesy of Bill Rice.

The Pisces Bass Club was THE club to belong to if you lived in San Diego or even southern California. It was a difficult club to get into, from what I remember you had to be invited, and their legend preceded them. They were a rough bunch of guys who not only took their fishing seriously, they could out party even Hollywood’s elite.

Rumors aside, though, every angler in the club wasn’t just a top-notch bass fisherman, they were the people who developed many of the techniques and lures that many anglers in the region (or nationally) still utilize today.

Recently I was going through a number of picture files that my friend Bill Rice had sent me and I ran across this article about the Pisces club. Also in those files were some pictures of weigh-ins and award ceremonies from their early tournaments. I thought you all might like to see them. If you’re familiar with the club, they’ll bring back some nice memories. If you’re not familiar with early bass fishing in southern Cal, then these pictures and the article will introduce you to some of the best anglers southern California has ever known.

Are there any clubs in your area or state who were THE club to beat? If so, drop us a line and let us know who they were and we’ll try to do a story on them.

If any of you southern California anglers out there can name the anglers in these pictures, please contact us and let us know. I’d like to add their names to the pictures.