After running through some old magazines this past weekend I had to post this piece regarding the history of team tournaments in southern California. It’s not as old as a lot of the stuff we’ve posted here but it brought back a lot of memories for me and I’m sure it’ll do the same for a number of those who fished the SoCal region back in the ’80s.
The organization was the California Fishing Association owned and run by long-time California bass angler Tom Meredith. The organization started the year prior in 1984 after the decline of Western Bass team events. The organization would only last another year and would be bought by Bucky Fallon and Bob Young and would eventually become the American Bass Association, which is still running today – not to be confused with the other ABA that ran Bassmaster’s Weekend Series).
If you’ve followed western bass fishing at all over the years you are destined to recognize a number of the players in the standings. First off the winners of the final event of the season held at Castaic Lake, were the stout duo of Dennis Taylor and Bob Roady. Those two guys took home their share of the finances during their 20-plus-year terror in the southland.
In the next picture you see the husband and wife team of Steve and Kathy Tade who were always near the top of the standings. Next long-time WON Bass tournament director Ron Cervenka and his partner Joe Heathcoat accept 3rd-place honors. Joe was one of the first hand pourers (Heckler Worms) in the SoCal area along with Jim Smith (Smitty Worms) and Al Numora (A Tails).
I really like the next picture showing Jack Otte and John Bennett of the Bass and Beer Association. The name of that club really shows what it was like fishing tournaments back then. Yeah, you were allowed to have beer in the boat. Next there’s Team Glover and John Yusta with his sons, all early tournament favorites.
On the next page you see prominent tournament angler and bass fishing proponent, the late Pat Marley. Pat was an attorney in southern California who along with a number of other folks fought Sacramento with respect to warmwater fisheries, namely bass fishing, and actually won on many accounts. He also belonged to a club called the No-Name Bass Club, the club everyone wanted to be in but couldn’t get in.
Below that picture is jig-fisherman extraordinaire Jack O’Malley and his wife Pat. We’ve written about Jack here at the Bass Fishing Archives before. He was one of the first bass anglers in the state and had a lot to do with its early development in the west. Next, I couldn’t leave out Bob Young, again one of the early pioneers of bass fishing in the west.
If you look at the standings you’ll also see names such as Jay Poore, Steve Heboian, Don Finwall, Stan Kiefer, Dick Trask, Jim Adams, Craig Sutherland, and the Bass LTD duo of Ron Mueler and Carl Richards. If you dig even further, you’ll see my old team partner Gary Boyd and myself somewhere in there. Yes, I’m a has-been.
Other interesting parts of this article are the sponsors located top and bottom of the pages. Companies like Fluttercraft (who marketed one of the best split-shot worms ever produced), Canyon Lure Co (Bobby Garland’s brother Gary), Twin Ts (the company that was bought out by Gary Yamamoto and eventually became Gary Yamamoto Custom Lures this same year), Stanley Jigs, DRP Electronics (owned by Dave Plotnick, now owner of American Bass Association), Marine Associates, North Hollywood Marine and Anglers Marine. Of these companies only a few are still in business today.
As stated earlier, the California Fishing Association dissolved in 1986 and was bought by Bob Young and Bucky Fallon to form the American Bass Association. This was later bought by Dave Plotnick and Craig Sutherland and the organization is still running team events all over the western United States today. Still it’s cool to look back at some of the early days of bass fishing in the west.
Do you have any old tournament organizations you’d like to see mentioned? Do you have any old tournament organization magazines you’d like to contribute to the Bass Fishing Archives so we can write stories like this? If so, please contact us and let us know.