The 1982 U.S. Open: Now a National Championship Event – Part One

The cover of the 1982 U.S. Open Press Guide and Souvenir Program.

Editor’s Note: The success of the 1981 U.S. Open put the Western Bass Fishing Association on the competitive bass fishing map. Because of this, the 1982 Open would field 262 contestants, many of which were household names around the U.S. – it wasn’t just some western fly-by-night event anymore. In part one of this story, we’ll look at the history and introduce the anglers that participated in the ’82 Open. In part two we’ll take a look at the event and the top finishers. In part three we’ll look at how the event was won and talk with the winner, Rich Tauber, to hear what an effect the win had on his career.

 

The first U.S. Open held in 1981 was a pie-in the-sky dream thought up by new Western Bass Fishing Association owner Rich Schultz. It was his hope, along with those who worked for WBFA, to draw at least 60 top-tier anglers to an event that would award the highest payout in professional bass fishing history -$50,000. What happened was a far cry from their dream.

By the time the first day of competition rolled around, 162 anglers had signed up to test their wits against some of the best anglers and some of the toughest fishing conditions the United States had to offer. In the end, Greg Hines of Santa Ana, CA would win the largest purse ever in bass fishing.

Although the ’81 event had competitors from 22 states, because of its success, the ’82 event would nearly double in size (262 anglers) and have representatives from 25 states. It had become a nationally-recognized event where anyone who was anyone wanted to participate.

Also in 1982, the event actually changed its name. In 1981, the event was staged as the Western Bass/Del Webb National Bass Tournament. In the opening notes of the 1982 Press Guide and Souvenir Program, Rich Schultz says, “We have a permanent name for the tournament – something unique and one which signifies a true national championship, whether it be golf, tennis or BASS FISHING. From 1982 and beyond, this record-breaking tournament will be known as the U.S. Open.”

The Anglers

Although the inaugural Open had its share of top names in the sport, the ’82 event, held from August 15-21, 1982, would have nearly every big name in the sport. Here are some of the nationally recognized names that fished the ’82 event:

  • Tom Mann (AL)
  • Ricky Green (AR)
  • Forrest Wood (AR)
  • Roland Martin (FL)
  • Cliff Craft (GA)
  • Ron Shearer (KY)
  • Bo Dowden (LA)
  • Harold Allen (MS)
  • Basil Bacon (MO)
  • Charlie Campbell (MO)
  • Chet Douthitt (MO)
  • Guido Hibdon (MO)
  • Stacey King (MO)
  • Roger Moore (MO)
  • Jerry Rhyne (NC)
  • Don Butler (OK)
  • Jimmy Houston (OK)
  • Rick Clunn (TX)
  • Randy Dearman (TX)
  • Randy Fite (TX)
  • Lendell Martin (TX)
  • Tommy Martin (TX)
  • Larry Nixon (TX)
  • Zell Rowland (TX)
  • Lonnie Stanley (TX)

Of course besides the eastern stalwarts there were also the big names of the west. Anglers, like John Bedwell, Don Doty, Chuck English, Mike Folkestad, Dave Gliebe, Greg Hines, Don Iovino, Larry Hopper, Gary Klein, Dee Thomas and Dave Nollar, to name a few.

Below is a complete list of anglers and their bios at the time. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge them. I think you’ll find them interesting to read.

In Part Two we’ll cover the event day by day and in part three we’ll examine how the 1982 U.S. Open was won.

1982 U.S. Open Anglers. Photos 1982 U.S. Open Press Guide and Souvenir Program.

1982 U.S. Open Anglers. Photos 1982 U.S. Open Press Guide and Souvenir Program.

1982 U.S. Open Anglers. Photos 1982 U.S. Open Press Guide and Souvenir Program.

1982 U.S. Open Anglers. Photos 1982 U.S. Open Press Guide and Souvenir Program.

1982 U.S. Open Anglers. Photos 1982 U.S. Open Press Guide and Souvenir Program.

1982 U.S. Open Anglers. Photos 1982 U.S. Open Press Guide and Souvenir Program.

1982 U.S. Open Anglers. Photos 1982 U.S. Open Press Guide and Souvenir Program.

1982 U.S. Open Anglers. Photos 1982 U.S. Open Press Guide and Souvenir Program.

1982 U.S. Open Anglers. Photos 1982 U.S. Open Press Guide and Souvenir Program.

1982 U.S. Open Anglers. Photos 1982 U.S. Open Press Guide and Souvenir Program.

1982 U.S. Open Anglers. Photos 1982 U.S. Open Press Guide and Souvenir Program.

1982 U.S. Open Anglers. Photos 1982 U.S. Open Press Guide and Souvenir Program.

1982 U.S. Open Anglers. Photos 1982 U.S. Open Press Guide and Souvenir Program.

1982 U.S. Open Anglers. Photos 1982 U.S. Open Press Guide and Souvenir Program.