Western Bass Patches

The original mid-'70s Western Bass Fishing Association patch.

The original mid-’70s Western Bass Fishing Association patch.

A little over a year ago we did a short piece on the patches of western bass organizations. In that story we looked at two patches from the original western organizations, Western Bass Fishing Association and the Southwest Association of Bass Champions, that started in the early ‘70s along with the organization that bought and consolidated the two previous organizations, U.S. Bass. In this piece, thanks for Bass Fishing Hall of Fame inductee, Bill Rice, we have a more complete set of patches to share.

A little history before we start, though. Western Bass Fishing Association started in April, 1973 in order to bring competitive bass fishing to western anglers. The organization was based out of southern California and operated by Western Outdoor News. Not too long after that, the Southwest Association of Bass Champions (SWAB) was started in Arizona.

An original WBFA shoulder patch from the mid-'70s.

An original WBFA shoulder patch from the mid-’70s.

These two organizations competed for the western anglers until they were both bought out by Rich Schultz and Don Doty in 1981 and eventually U.S. Bass was formed in 1983. U.S. Bass was going to change the world of bass fishing and if not for the unethical doings of Schultz, it may have given B.A.S.S. a real run for its money.

For example, Western Bass was the first to hold an event where the winner was guaranteed a $50,000 pay day. The event was the inaugural U.S. Open held on Lake Mead near Las Vegas. Anglers put up a $1,000 entry for the chance of winning the $50k top prize. The event drew 161 anglers from across the United States including the best the South had to offer. Names like Roland Martin, Jimmy Houston, Larry Nixon and Rick Clunn came out west to test their mettle against the West’s pros. By the next year, the Open field had grown to 262 anglers.

A WBFA tournament patch from the 1979 Lake Mohave Invitational.

A WBFA tournament patch from the 1979 Lake Mohave Invitational.

U.S. Bass didn’t stop with the U.S. Open, though. They continued to expand creating tournament circuits in Texas, Louisiana, and the Midwest. By 1987, they held a 2-million-dollar event on Lake Chickamauga called the Fisherman’s Dream tournament. In fact, anglers such as Denny Brauer and Tommy Biffle got their start fishing the U.S. Bass events held in the Midwest and South.

A WBFA tournament patch from the inaugural U.S. Open held in 1981 at Lake Mead.

A WBFA tournament patch from the inaugural U.S. Open held in 1981 at Lake Mead.

Then around the 1988 time frame, U.S. Bass couldn’t pay their bills. Word has it Schultz blew membership money and tournament money at the crap table, putting the organization into a tail spin. Doty, an avid and very competitive angler, as well as businessman, decided to try and right the ship, funding the organization out of his own pocket. It lasted for another year before Doty went broke and Western Outdoor News bought the floundering organization. From 1989 through today, Western Outdoor News owns the rights to the U.S. Open – which is pretty much all that’s left.

Above and below are a number of patches from these organizations dating back to 1978 (or earlier) through 2010. It’s the most complete set I’ve seen compiled but there are still a large number of missing patches. If you or anyone you know have any Western Bass, U.S. Bass, SWAB or WON Bass patches, and you’re willing to share them, please write us at terry@bassfishingarchives.com. We’d love to see them and put them where everyone can see them.

 

Late 70s early 80s Western Bass Fishing Association Life Member patch. Although WBFA was bought out by U.S. Bass, they rolled over the WBFA life memberships - although it wouldn't last much longer.

Late 70s early 80s Western Bass Fishing Association Life Member patch. Although WBFA was bought out by U.S. Bass, they rolled over the WBFA life memberships – although it wouldn’t last much longer.

 

The patch from the 3rd annual U.S. Open. Notice it still says Western Bass. Within a month of this event, WBFA changed its name to U.S. Bass.

The patch from the 3rd annual U.S. Open. Notice it still says Western Bass. Within a month of this event, WBFA changed its name to U.S. Bass.

 

The tournament patch for the 5th annual U.S. Open.

The tournament patch for the 5th annual U.S. Open.

 

The patch from U.S. Bass' 1987 Fisherman's Dream tournament held on Lake Chickamauga, TN. This was the event that started Bassmaster Elite angler Mike McClelland's career.

The patch from U.S. Bass’ 1987 Fisherman’s Dream tournament held on Lake Chickamauga, TN. This was the event that started Bassmaster Elite angler Mike McClelland’s career.

 

U.S. Bass' 15-year anniversary patch. This patch was from 1988 and U.S. Bass was taking advantage of Western Bass Starting in 1973 for their 15-year claim.

U.S. Bass’ 15-year anniversary patch. This patch was from 1988 and U.S. Bass was taking advantage of Western Bass Starting in 1973 for their 15-year claim.

 

A late-'80s U.S. Bass patch.

A late-’80s U.S. Bass patch.

 

Another late '80s U.S. Bass Patch.

Another late ’80s U.S. Bass Patch.

 

A late '80s U.S. Bass patch.

A late ’80s U.S. Bass patch.

 

A late '80s U.S. Bass Life Membership patch. It didn't work out I guess.

A late ’80s U.S. Bass Life Membership patch. It didn’t work out I guess.

 

1993 WON Bass Delta tournament patch.

1993 WON Bass Delta tournament patch.

 

1993 WON Bass Lake Mead tournament patch.

1993 WON Bass Lake Mead tournament patch.

 

A 1995 WON Bass Western Classic patch from Black Butte Lake.

A 1995 WON Bass Western Classic patch from Black Butte Lake.

 

A 2010 WON Bass tournament patch from the U.S. Open.

A 2010 WON Bass tournament patch from the U.S. Open.

  • Alex V

    Thank you for all your hard work in presenting the history
    of our beloved sport and to the gentleman that collected all these patches. In order to know where you are going, you must first know where you’ve been…..