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The Worldwide Authority On Bass Fishing
June 2018
1968-2018
Celebrating
th
50
the
Anniversary
of
B.A.S.S.
50 Milestones Of The 2010s p. 24
Predictions Of The Past And Future p. 32
Ruminations Of Rick Clunn p. 40
The Return Of Harry & Charlie p. 60
Summer Sight
Smallies p. 66
Rockin’ The
Texas Rig p. 54
“ This is surreal. It’s not like you can plan on
CONGRATULATIONS
JORDAN LEE
Champion of the 2018
GEICO® Bassmaster Classic®
presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods®
winning the Classic. Everything has to fall into
place for you. Everything has to be perfect. And
that’s what happened. For me, it started with my
V MAX SHO®. I demanded a lot from it and it met
every expectation. I could focus on my game and
it turned into winning the championship.
“
See why Yamaha Pro Angler Jordan Lee chooses the V MAX SHO at:
YamahaOutboards.com/V6VMAXSHO
This document contains many of Yamaha’s valuable trademarks. It may also contain trademarks belonging to other companies.
Any references to other companies or their products are for identiication purposes only, and are not intended to be an endorsement.
REMEMBER to always observe all applicable boating laws. Never drink and drive. Dress properly with a USCG-approved personal
loatation device and protective gear. © 2018 Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. All rights reserved. 1-800-889-2624
Contents
Volume 51, No. 6
June 2018
Features
32
40
46
54
2010s
24
50 Milestones
Of The 2010s
The past eight years saw
immense improvements in
technology, record fish
being caught, the loss of
B.A.S.S. legends and the
rise of new bass fishing
stars. BY MARK HICKS
32
Prognostications Of
The Bassmen
Twenty-five years ago we
asked bass fishing insiders
to imagine what our sport
would look like in 2018.
Here are the results of their
predictions, as well as
predictions for the next 25
years. BY LOUIE STOUT
40
24
46
Rick Clunn, whom many
refer to as the “Zen Master,”
has fished more Bassmaster
tournaments than any man
alive. As he reflects on the
most storied career in bass
fishing, his mindful
approach to the sport
continues to evolve.
BY STEVE PRICE
Day On The Lake,
Sklyar Hamilton
Immediate postspawn can
be a difficult time to make
bass bite, even when you
find them. Follow the lead of
this Elite Series pro to fill
your livewell during this
confusing time.
BY DON WIRTH
Clunn Looks Back
54
60
Where The Texas Rig
Still Rocks
Well, river gurus targeting
brown bass in the rocks are
bucking this trend.
BY BRUCE INGRAM
60
Harry ‘N’ Charlie
Bass Team Coaches
Bass fishing’s fumbling duo
accept the coaching position
at Swamp Gas Corners High.
What could possibly go
wrong? BY DON WIRTH
With shaky heads, Neko rigs
and Ned rigs getting all the
attention these days, many
anglers ignore the Texas rig.
June 2018 BASSMASTER
| 1
Contents
Volume 51, No. 6
June 2018
Departments
16
SHORT CASTS
10 On The Hook | A closer look at
Texas pro Takahiro Omori
12 Bass City, USA | La Crosse,
Wis., which will be hosting an
Elite tournament on the
Mississippi River this month
70
12 Datebook | Mark your calendar
for special holidays
GET SOCIAL
12 On The Tournament Trail |
Keep an eye on where the
Bassmaster Tournament Trail is
headed in June
12 State Of The Nation | Learn
more about a derby held by the
Australian B.A.S.S. Nation as
well as a preview of what’s to
come with our 12 new High
School All-Americans
12 Conservation | The
Environmental Protection Agency
is looking for a public alternative
to E15 ethanol fuel
DO IT YOURSELF
16 Bass Boating | All of your
boating questions answered here
18 You Write The Caption! |
Submit your best caption and see
last month’s winning response
18 Mail Call | Readers share opinions
68
WHAT WORKS NOW
12 Astro Tables | Curious as to the best fishing days this month? This
chart lets you in on when you should be spending time on the water
14 Scientific Angle | Learn all about elbow injuries in fishing and how to
avoid them
16 You Ask, Pros Answer | You ask the pros timely questions about
which pro angler most influenced their career
20 Gear Grab | Take a look at everything you need for fishing ledges
66 Pattern Of The Month | Jonathon VanDam’s postspawn pattern for
bronzebacks is a tournament-tested winner that you don’t want to miss
out on
16 What’s It Worth | Find out
what your antique fishing items
are worth
68 Bass Basics | Everything you need to know about deep crankin’
72 Bass By Yak| Learn how to
make rod holder holders
71 Triple Threat | Three pro anglers offer their perspective on how to
target bass on ledges
18 Twitter Poll | What’s the most
important innovation in the ‘10s?
See what the majority of readers
thought
18 Facebook.com/bass |
B.A.S.S. Facebook fans share
pictures of their happiest memories on the water with their dads
REGULARS
First Cast | Outside The Lines
8 Upfront | Proudly Showing
6
Our Age
70 Lunker Club | New batch
of lunkers
78 Parting Shot | 25th For 50th
80 Back Deck | Harry ‘N’ Charlie
Redux
ON THE COVER
This commemorative issue celebrates the golden anniversary of B.A.S.S. Our sport has come a long way in the past 50 years,
and much of the growth in participation, technological advancements and fisheries conservation is due to the efforts of this
organization.
Bassmaster Magazine ISSN 0199-3291 is published nine times a year in January/February, Mid-February, March, April, May, June, July/August, September/October and November/
December by BASS, 3500 Blue Lake Drive, Suite 330, Birmingham, AL 35243. Yearly Dues: U.S. — $25; Canada — $40; Outside U.S. and Canada — $50. POSTMASTER: Send address
changes to Bassmaster Magazine, PO Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235. Periodicals postage paid at Birmingham, Ala., and additional mailing offices.
2
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
GET TO THE STRIKE
ZONE FASTER
WITH DREDGER
C
Blue
har t
r eu s
DREDGER
e
The Berkley ® Dredger series has
weighted bills, so they dive deeper and
get to the strike zone faster. Designed
by David Fritts, the Dredger series is
one of our most innovative hard baits yet.
berkley-fishing.com
© 2018 Pure Fishing, Inc.
PAGES FROM THE PAST
PREMIER PARTNERS
This Month In 2013
Bassmaster’s “Day On The Lake” series has been the magazine’s most popular feature
since its debut. Elite Series pros and other bass fishing legends have taken the challenge
and taught us a whole bunch about how to locate and catch fish. However, it was the June
2013 installment that was the most inspirational of all. Clay Dyer took the challenge. Dyer
was born without legs or hands, and has been an avid angler since age 5. He taught us that
a successful day on the water is not quantified in the number of fish you catch, but instead
how much you appreciate the opportunity to do something you love.
EDITORIAL
Editor-in-Chief: Dave Precht
Editor: James Hall
Managing Editor: Helen White
Art Director/Photography Manager:
Laurie Tisdale
Production Manager/Art Director:
Rick Reed
Designer: Breanne Jackson
Senior Editor: Thomas Allen
Editorial Assistant: Mandy Pascal
Senior Writers:
Steve Price, Pete Robbins,
Louie Stout, Don Wirth
Illustrators:
Jonathan H. Milo, Arturo Gonzalez Murga,
Doug Schermer, Jason Simmelink
Photographer: Seigo Saito
Photo Editor: Gary Tramontina
Antique Tackle Consultant: Karl White
BASSMASTER.COM
Managing Editor: Chris Mitchell
Digital Content Manager: Phillip Lawless
Social Media Editor: Sara Frye
SALES AND SPONSORSHIPS
sales@bassmaster.com
Director, Sales Development and Marketing:
Teresa Wilson Lux
Marketing: April Phillips, Susan Sutton, Kerri Bonner,
Donny Wilson
Senior Advertising Manager: Cindy McKee, 205-313-0926
Lifestyle Sales Director: Rich Smyth, 205-313-0939
East Region Sales: Deborah Smart, 860-839-5245,
dsmart@bassmaster.com
Advertising & Expo Sales: Katie Hagan, 251-802-4994,
khagan@bassmaster.com
B.A.S.S., LLC
Chief Executive Officer: Bruce Akin
Executive Vice President, Director: Chase Anderson
Vice President, General Manager: Carol Stone
Vice President, Digital: Jim Sexton
Vice President, Sales: Joe Higgins
Vice President, Events & Sponsorship Activation: Angie Thompson
Vice President, Publications And Communications: Dave Precht
Conservation Director: Gene Gilliland
B.A.S.S. Nation Director: Jon Stewart
Tournament Director: Trip Weldon
Founder: Ray Scott
CIRCULATION
Director, Membership: Mitch Frank
MEMBER CUSTOMER SERVICES
Email: bassmaster@emailcustomerservice.com
Phone: 877-227-7872
Published by B.A.S.S., LLC
3500 Blue Lake Drive, Suite 330
Birmingham, AL 35243
4
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
BASSMASTER
Website: Bassmaster.com
Email: editorial@bassmaster.com
@BASS_Nation
Copyright B.A.S.S. Inc. • All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without
the permission of Bassmaster Magazine is prohibited. Bassmaster Magazine cannot be
held responsible for any kind of unsolicited materials. PRINTED IN THE USA.
1971
2018
18
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE,
THE MORE WEEKENDS
STAY THE SAME.
HAPPY 50TH ANNIVERSARY, B.A.S.S.
From flashers to LCDs, analog to digital and DualBeam to MEGA Imaging™, the past five decades
have seen tremendous change at Humminbird®. But as our technology advances, our goal remains
the same as it was on day one: helping anglers make the most of every minute on the water.
So here’s to the next fi ve decades of relentless progress, and moments when time stands still.
humminbird.com
6
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
First Cast
Outside The
Lines
When looking back over the
various covers of the 2010s, it
is apparent that for the first
time in the magazine’s history,
nontraditional imagery was
used. Traditionally, of course,
photos of fish, fishermen and
fishermen with fish dominated.
Illustrations of the same were
also used quite often.
The March issue of 2010
signaled a change. This cover
featured a collage of Lunker
Club members. Yes, this was
fishermen holding fish, but
not a pro and not a singluar
image. Since then, giant
lures, digitally created
collages of lakes and multiple small illustrations have
graced the cover. A 3-D
printer was even used to
create the headline for our
April 2017 issue.
Perhaps the most dramatic
of the new-world cover
images was that of Aaron
Martens in January of 2016.
We submerged him in water
and used dramatic lighting to
create a truly special image.
Yes, Bassmaster covers will
continue to feature traditional images, but sometimes thinking a little outside
traditional lines pays off.
June 2018 BASSMASTER
| 7
Upfront
James Hall Editor
Proudly Showing
Our Age
WITH THE PUBLICATION of this issue, I have officially thumbed through every
page of every Bassmaster since its inception in 1968. That’s 452 magazines,
which equates to roughly 50,000 pages of content. Had I done the math prior to
engaging in the project, I might have reconsidered (pretty sure I developed a
touch of the carpal tunnels). But in all, I believe I am better for it, and the reader
comments we have received from the “50 Milestones” features lead me to believe
that the effort was certainly worthwhile. But stepping back from these decadelong highlight reels, I realized just how impressive the 50th birthday of B.A.S.S.
really is.
While the lifespan of people is
expanding (in 1968, life expectancy in
the U.S. was 68 years old; now it’s 80),
the lifespan of companies is going the
opposite direction. According to a
study done by CNBC, the average age
of an S&P 500 company is now under
20 years, down from 60 years in the
1950s. A recent piece in the
Washington Times discussed the difficulties of keeping a business alive.
The story cited that only 36 percent of
companies make it to 10 years. Only
21 percent make it to 20. They didn’t
say how many make it to 50 (perhaps
the sample size was too small), but it
has to be in the single digits.
So, surviving half a century is
certainly reason to celebrate. What’s
even more interesting is to look at the
influence B.A.S.S., as the creator of
the sport, has had on the industry that
blossomed around it. Cool comparisons include other leagues, like the
NFL, MLB and NBA. These sports
leagues are much older than B.A.S.S.,
and are certainly more high profile.
Still, not a single one of them influences the economy as much as the
followers of Bassmaster.
Take a gander at the annual revenues for the big-three sports leagues:
Anglers spend $16 billion
annually on bass fishing ...
that’s more than MLB and
NBA combined!”
“
8
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
NFL, $13 billion; MLB, $9.5 billion;
NBA, $5.2 billion. These are big
numbers, to be sure. That said,
anglers spend $16 billion annually on
bass fishing, according to a study by
Southwick Associates. That’s more
than MLB and NBA combined!
As for Bassmaster Magazine, it is
one of a remarkably few publications
to have lasted 50 years. Although there
were several outdoor magazines
founded before it, only a couple of
those still exist (Field & Stream,
Outdoor Life, Fur-Fish-Game), and none
of them were specifically focused on
bass fishing. Bassmaster was the first,
and continues to be the world’s largest,
vertical fishing publication.
So, why has B.A.S.S. not only
survived, but thrived for five decades?
In my opinion, it’s because of you.
There is simply something in the
water … at least the water that holds a
member of the Micropterus family.
Bass anglers, I contend, are the most
passionate group of fishermen that
exist. And B.A.S.S. members are the
most loyal subgroup of these fishermen. Together, B.A.S.S. and bass
anglers have not only brought our
sport to a level surpassing mainstream stick and ball sports, but we
have defied trends in the business and
publishing worlds.
And I’m not going to say there is a
correlation between life expectancy
increasing in our country and each
passing birthday of B.A.S.S., but I’m
not going to deny that there is a
correlation, either.
NEW
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On The Hook
BY JOE SILLS
DID YOU KNOW?
Takahiro Omori Hometown: Emory, Texas
You learned to bass fish by
camping in a tent under the
shadow of Mount Fuji. That’s a
unique story — how did it
happen?
I was 18 years old. I had just
graduated high school. And,
basically, I just left my
parents’ house and said, “I
want to be a B.A.S.S. pro.”
My parents thought I was
crazy and stupid, and they
kicked me out of the house.
So, I went to Lake Kawaguchi,
where the first Japanese bass
tournament ever was held. I
took a four-hour train ride to
get there, and when I got
there, I met a bass fisherman
who took me over to
Unoshima. Shima means
island, and that’s where I
camped.
I was fishing for bass from
the shore and from a little
rental boat. The lake is near
Mount Fuji, and it’s at a high
elevation, so it was kind of
cold — especially because I
was there in March, and fishing season doesn’t really
start until April. I actually
stayed there more than once
before I started fishing a
tournament trail in Japan.
How long did you fish in Japan
before coming to America?
I fished the Japanese tournaments when I was 19 and 20.
I was fishing five or six tournaments a year, and I knew I had
more research to do. I knew if
I really wanted to chase my
dream, I had to go to America.
Before leaving Japan, you
wrote down a 15-year plan to
become a champion. What
was on that plan?
My dad always told me to
have some kind of plan to do
anything. So, just like you
have a business plan for your
company, I had a plan for fishing. You have short-term goals
and long-term goals, and I
made this plan of how to
10
| BASSMASTER June 2018
BIGGER BUCKS. Omori’s first
win on the B.A.S.S. circuit
earned him $14,000. His
last win netted him
$100,000.
BIGGER FISH TO FRY.
When he first started
bass fishing in Japan, a
kicker would be 4
pounds. Now, thanks to
the introduction of
Florida bass, Japanese
anglers are catching bass
as big as 22 pounds.
FAVORITE FOOD. Needless to
say: Sushi
By The Numbers
Total
47 149 Times in the money 288
tournaments
12
Bassmaster 1 Bassmaster Total Weight:
Classic
Classic
7,475 pounds, 9 ounces
appearances
championship
Age:
7finishes
First-place
(2004)
Total Winnings:
become a pro angler. I was
serious. So, I wrote, “Maybe it
takes 10 years to make a
Classic.” And that happened
exactly in 2001, when I qualified for my first one. I’d also
written that it would take 15
years to win the Classic. In
2004, I won the Classic, so
that came true, too.
That plan was written on my
$2,050,030.33
desk even before coming to my
first tournament in the U.S. I
keep it as a reminder that you
don’t get anywhere overnight.
Does your family still think
you’re crazy?
Ha ha. I hope not.
You won Elite Series events
in 2016 and 2018, but there
STAYING
FRESH. Omori
rarely finds
time to fish
when he
returns home
to Japan.
Instead, he
spends time
catching up
with family
and getting
his fill of real,
Japanese
sushi. He says
fresh seafood
can be difficult to find in
the U.S., and
the older he
gets the more
he misses the
fresh sushi he
ate as a kid.
SERVICE
RECORD.
When he
first came to
the U.S.,
Omori spent
several years
working in
restaurants
to pay tournament
entry fees
while also
learning
English on
the fly.
was a gap between your last
tour win in 2005 in Florida
and the 2016 win at Wheeler.
Was it difficult to go over 10
years without a win?
Oh, sure it was difficult.
The wins are awesome, but
it’s just not as easy as people
think to win.
“ THE ONLY TRUCK
I’LL CALL HOME.”
IF YOU HAVE A DREAM, IT PAYS TO HAVE A TOYOTA. Elite Angler Brandon Palaniuk’s
Tundra was more than his ride to the pros. It served as his rolling hotel for the first season. And
to date, he’s earned $30K in Toyota Bonus Bucks. Chase your dream and earn extra cash.1
Drive a Toyota Tundra, Tacoma, Sequoia, or 4Runner, register and place the highest amongst
participants in qualifying events. To register or find a tournament, call Bonus Bucks HQ at
918-742-6424 or visit toyotafishing.com
Brandon Palaniuk
2017 Toyota Bassmaster
Angler of the Year
Vehicles shown are personal owner cars, and may be modified with non-Genuine Toyota parts and accessories; may not be drivable, under
warranty, or street legal. Trademarks appearing on the vehicles are those of their respective owners. Before towing, confirm your vehicle and
trailer are compatible, hooked up and loaded properly and that you have any necessary additional equipment. Do not exceed any Weight Ratings,
and follow all instructions in your Owner’s Manual.
Manual. The maximum you can tow depends on the total weight of any cargo, occupants and available
equipment. 1To qualify for contingency payment, you must be a registered participant in the Toyota Bonus Bucks Program and place within the top
50 percent of the total field in qualifying tournaments. Only specific Toyota models, 2011 or newer, are eligible and must be registered in your name
individually or jointly. For complete rules and official registration form, please visit toyotafishing.com. ©2018 Toyota Motor Sales Advertisement.
This Month
Chocolate? Glazed?
Chocolate glazed with sprinkles? How can you go wrong?
8
National Best Friend Day. Be
sure to send your best friend
a few pictures of the last
giant you caught — or better
yet, catch one with them.
17 Father’s Day. If you’re a
dad, take your son fishing. If
you’re a son, take your dad
fishing. The memories last
two lifetimes.
18
National Go Fishing Day.
Double down for another day
on the water with a great
excuse after Father’s Day.
21
Summer Solstice. The
longest day of the year gives
you plenty of time to cast. No
excuses.
CONSERVATION
The Environmental
Protection Agency is
currently reviewing public
availability for an alternative
to E15 ethanol fuel. The new
fuel, isobutanol, has been
tested for marine engines.
The National Marine
Manufacturers Association
(NMMA) says isobutanol has
been found to be a boatfriendly substitute for
outboard-damaging ethanol.
The NMMA is leading a
campaign to get isobutanol
approved for on-highway use
and sale at retail gas
stations. B.A.S.S. conservation director Gene Gilliland
encourages members to visit
VoterVoice.net/NMMA/
home to tell the EPA to say
“yes” to isobutanol.
Like ethanol, isobutanol is
in the alcohol family;
however, it does not corrode
fuel lines and claims
30-percent higher energy
density than its cousin while
being distilled from the same
plant-based sources.
12
| BASSMASTER June 2018
ON THE TOURNAMENT TRAIL
STATE OF THE NATION
June
Derby Down Under
7-10
Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River
presented by Econo Lodge, Sabine River, Texas
14-16 Bass Pro Shops Central Open No. 3, Red River, La.
20-22 2018 Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation
Eastern Regional presented by Magellan Outdoors,
Winyah Bay, S.C.
21-24 Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River presented by
Go RVing, Mississippi River, Wis.
29-July 2 Bassmaster Elite at Lake Oahe, Lake Oahe, S.D.
BASS CITY, USA | LA CROSSE, WIS.
The Mississippi River
paints a beautiful
portrait in its northern
reaches, highlighted by
the bass city of La
Crosse, Wis. Far from
its murky southern
waters, the Mississippi
River is a bass haven in
Wisconsin. La Crosse is
a staple on the
Bassmaster Elite Series
circuit, having hosted
four Elite tournaments.
2,320
Miles the Mississippi River
flows from its Minnesotan headwaters to
its terminus in Louisiana
4
Rank of the
Mighty
Mississippi’s
length among
world river
systems. Old Man
River is topped only
by the Nile, Amazon
and Yangtze river
systems
11
Width of the
Mississippi in miles
at its widest point,
in Bena, Minn.
63-10
Ott
DeFoe’s four-day
limit to take home
the 2016 crown
ASTRO TABLES To order Rick Taylor’s Prime Times products, visit
primetimes2.com. For more months, go to Bassmaster.com/astro-tables.
LUNAR PERIODS
BEST DAYS
2018
JUN
TIMES OCCURRING AT NIGHT ARE SHADED
VALUE
National Doughnut Day.
POOR
FAIR
GOOD
EXCL
DATEBOOK
1
BY JOE SILLS
Fri 1
Sat 2
33
30
Sun
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
32
34
42
55
48
46
49
Sun
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
64
77
90
98
89
78
66
Sun
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
59
56
58
64
51
42
39
Sun
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
47
53
62
65
55
45
36
MOON
RISE
11:01 pm
11:44 pm
12:24 am
1:00 am
1:34 am
2:06 am
2:38 am
3:11 am
3:46 am
4:24 am
5:07 am
5:57 am
6:53 am
7:56 am
9:04 am
10:12 am
11:20 am
12:26 pm
1:29 pm
2:30 pm
3:30 pm
4:28 pm
5:26 pm
6:22 pm
7:17 pm
8:09 pm
8:58 pm
9:42 pm
10:23 pm
PRIMARY
MOON OVERHEAD
2:51 am - 3:532am
3:37 am - 4:43 am
4:23 am - 5:31 am
5:05 am - 6:23 am
5:45 am - 7:13 am
6:23 am - 8:05 am
7:00 am - 8:56 am
7:40 am - 9:48 am
8:17 am - 10:43 am
8:59 am - 11:41 am
9:42 am - 12:42 pm
10:34 am - 1:44 pm
11:29 am - 2:49 pm
12:31 pm - 3:53 pm
1:34 pm - 4:56 pm
2:38 pm - 5:54 pm
3:43 pm - 6:45 pm
4:43 pm - 7:33 pm
5:41 pm - 8:17 pm
6:39 pm - 8:57 pm
7:34 pm - 9:36 pm
8:28 pm - 10:14 pm
9:21 pm - 10:53 pm
10:12 pm - 11:34 pm
11:05 pm - 12:17 am
11:56 pm - Midnight
Midnight - 1:02 am
12:46 am - 1:48 am
1:35 am - 2:37 am
2:20 am - 3:28 am
MOON
SET
8:30 am
9:21 am
10:13 am
11:08 am
12:03 pm
12:59 pm
1:57 pm
2:56 pm
3:57 pm
5:01 pm
6:08 pm
7:17 pm
8:25 pm
9:31 pm
10:30 pm
11:23 pm
12:09 am
12:49 am
1:26 am
2:00 am
2:32 am
3:06 am
3:40 am
4:16 am
4:56 am
5:39 am
6:25 am
7:15 am
8:07 am
PRIMARY
MOON UNDERFOOT
3:16 pm - 4:18 pm
4:02 pm - 5:08 pm
4:48 pm - 5:56 pm
5:30 pm - 6:48 pm
6:10 pm - 7:38 pm
6:48 pm - 8:30 pm
7:25 pm - 9:21 pm
8:05 pm - 10:13 pm
8:42 pm - 11:08 pm
9:24 pm - 12:06 am
10:07 pm - 1:07 am
10:59 pm - 2:09 am
11:54 pm - Midnight
Midnight - 3:14 am
12:56 am - 4:18 am
1:59 am - 5:21 am
3:03 am - 6:19 am
4:08 am - 7:10 am
5:08 am - 7:58 am
6:06 am - 8:42 am
7:04 am - 9:22 am
7:59 am - 10:01 am
8:53 am - 10:39 am
9:46 am - 11:18 am
10:37 am - 11:59 am
11:30 am - 12:42 pm
12:21 pm - 1:27 pm
1:11 pm - 2:13 pm
2:00 pm - 3:02 pm
2:45 pm - 3:53 pm
10:28 pm
25 50 75
AVERAGE
For more, visit
primetimes2.com
ANY LUNAR PERIOD IS ENHANCED WHEN IT OVERLAPS A KEY SOLAR PERIOD.
THE BEST OF THESE OVERLAPS ARE DESIGNATED BY THE SUN SYMBOLS:
= HIGH NOON
= DAWN
= DUSK
WHILE THE LESSER MOONRISE AND -SET OVERLAPS (ABOUT 30 MIN. BEFORE
AND AFTER THE LISTED TIME) ARE DESIGNATED BY BOLD BLACK TYPE.
LOW
Apogee
HALF
NEW
Perigee
HIGH
HALF
Summer
FULL
LOW
Apogee
Australian anglers of the
B.A.S.S. Nation braved
24-mph winds to bring in
475 bass at their recent Lake
Glenbawn tournament.
Newcomer Justin Evans took
home the $3,400 Berkley
cash prize in a field of 47
boats, qualifying for the
club’s championship in
August. The bass down
under were hitting black
Berkley Gulp Minnow Grubs
on a 1/4-ounce jighead,
6-pound line. If he takes
home the championship in
August, he’ll win a trip to
America for the B.A.S.S.
Nation Championship.
Drew McGrath, Australia
B.A.S.S. Nation president,
says the Aussie trail is doing
better than ever, and he called
the camaraderie and competition at Glenbawn some of the
best he’s seen in 20 years.
All-Americans Named
For the fourth consecutive
year, 12 standout high school
anglers have been selected as
members of the exclusive
Bassmaster High School
All-American Team presented
by DICK’S Sporting Goods.
More than 465 applications
from students grades 10-12
were submitted from 38
states across the nation. Of
these, 64 were chosen as
Bassmaster All-State anglers.
After intensive review of
résumés, judges picked the
Top 12 high school anglers in
the country. They are: Alec
Berens, Ill.; Spencer Childers,
Ga.; Cal Culpepper, Ga.;
James Gibbons, S.C.; Karson
Hamilton, Ark.; Ethan King,
Ala.; Tyler Lubbat, Ill.;
Thomas Martin, Texas;
Garrett McWilliams, Miss.;
Dalton Smith, Miss.; Samuel
Vandagriff, Tenn.; Jacob
Woods, Tenn. These standout
anglers will be profiled in the
August issue of B.A.S.S.
Times Magazine.
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ACTIVE ANGLER
In late 2015,
Fred Roumbanis
was in the thick of
competition on the
Chesapeake Bay. By late
August, the Elite Series
season was nearly wrapped
up. Roumbanis was putting
the doors on a competitive
season after logging a Top 5
finish at BASSfest, a Top 10
finish at a Central Open and
a Top 20 on the St.
Lawrence River Elite event
weeks before. He’d found
himself in the Bassmaster
Classic field just one year
before, but soon, Roumbanis
would find himself in a cast.
“My arm just locked up,”
Roumbanis says. “I couldn’t
cast anymore.”
The veteran big fish angler
was facing a fisherman’s
worst nightmare. In the heat
of an Elite Series tournament, with $100,000 on the
line, he could barely cast a
line.
After struggling through
the event by fishing with his
nondominant hand,
Roumbanis headed for the
doctor. “It put me in depression,” he remembers. “I’m
left-handed, and my left
elbow just wasn’t working. It
was almost impossible to
fish.”
Roumbanis finished the
Chesapeake Bay event in
79th place. His next Elite
event was on Lake St. Clair,
where he managed to do just
a little better and finished in
77th place. He rebounded at
Oklahoma’s Fort Gibson
Lake (which was near his
home) with a 37th place
finish. But the final event of
2015 was held on Table
Rock Lake in Missouri.
Again, he struggled because
of the pain in his arm and
finished in 77th place. He
knew he had to get treatment
before the 2016 season
began.
14
| BASSMASTER June 2018
BY JOE SILLS
COMBATING AILMENT
Ulnar Nerve Entrapment
Diagnosing the condition wasn’t
easy. An initial visit for medical advice
resulted in a missed diagnosis.
“Basically, the first doctor told me I had
arthritis, which didn’t sound right. He
tried to sell me an elbow surgery package, so I went for a second opinion.”
That opinion resulted in an electrical
scan of Roumbanis’ nerve system — an
EEG — which pinpointed the injury: ulnar nerve entrapment.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, ulnar nerves are
responsible for transmitting motor function from your brain to
your lower arm and hand. If the nerve is compressed, the
resulting pain and weakness could leave your arms and hands
inoperable. That’s exactly what Roumbanis faced.
With his career on the line, “Boom Boom” knew he needed
to go under the knife.
“They pulled the nerve out and moved it in a procedure
called an ulnar nerve transposition. It wasn’t quite Tommy
John surgery, but it put me in a cast for six weeks, and I was
still feeling the effects of it when the first tournament of 2016
rolled around. That was a sight fishing situation down in
Florida, and I didn’t even lift a rod in practice because of the
pain. I just drove around and looked for beds.”
Product Spotlight
One technique that was impossible for Roumbanis to
perform with a jacked up elbow was skipping docks,
because you have to snap your arm to shoot baits under
low-hanging boards. The new Mojo Bass Dock Sniper from
St. Croix Rods makes it easier! It is a 7-foot, heavy power,
fast-action weapon that won’t break the bank. At $130, the
Mojo Bass Dock Sniper allows anglers of most means to
create a specialized setup for precisely targeting bass in the
tight confines of a dock. Its strong backbone has the guts to
wrestle fish away from line-tangling cables and posts that
threaten to steal your catch.
St. Croix says the rod is tailor-made for 1/2-ounce and
3/4-ounce bass baits.
PREVENTION
Roumbanis says the debilitating nerve injury from
2015 stemmed from a
truck-related accident more
than 10 years prior. “My first
year on tour, in 2004, I
grabbed a case of water,
slipped off of the tailgate
and hit my funny bone. I
know that sounds crazy, but
it’s true. I drove across the
country to Lake Okeechobee.
I couldn’t feel my palm for
six months, but I was broke
back then, so I never got it
looked at.”
Symptoms of possible
nerve damage in
your elbow
include a
loss of
sensation
in your
hand; a loss
of coordination in your
fingers; hand weakness; and
pain or a burning sensation
in your hand or fingers.
Preventing an accidental
injury like that is almost
impossible. However, the
nerve could have been
repaired much more quickly
had Roumbanis had it looked
at. The ensuing 14 years of
tournament time resulted in
what his
surgeon
called
one of
the
worst
cases of
damaged
cartilage he’d ever seen.
That’s an important
reminder for anglers across
the country, who often suffer
from elbow ailments ranging
from pinched nerves to
tennis elbows — if you’re
feeling numbness or pain in
your lower arm, get it looked
at by a professional
immediately.
Illustrations: Jonathan H. Milo
Scientific Angle
Ask The Experts
WHAT’S IT WORTH?
YOU ASK, PROS ANSWER
BY KARL WHITE
The images below were
submitted by Bassmaster
readers, and our antique tackle
expert, Karl White, appraises
the value of each unique find.
To submit yours, email
editorial@bassmaster.com.
BASS BOATING
BY LOUIE STOUT
What’s the proper break-in
method for a 40-horsepower,
4-stroke motor?
@mrbest10619, Instagram
Cute Lure
Wesley Pippins Jr.
$35 This cute little
lure is a very weird
and unique item.
The Flutterfin was made in
1955 and I would give it a
value between $30 and $35.
Old Unknown
Jerry Zakosek
$40 This looks
to be a very old
lure. Keep in
mind, there are several
unknowns, and this is one of
them. Under these conditions,
I will have to value this at $40
and would say this lure was
sold by a small dealer.
Was there a former pro that influenced you to
pursue this career?
Roger Creighton, Indianapolis
Elite Series pro Alton Jones
Minn Kota Gaff
Steven Johnson
$80 This is certainly a rare
item as Minn Kota was the first
electric trolling motor. To a
collector, this is not a desirable
item, but is historically important. I would value this at $80.
Rebel Lure
Andrew Poplin
$5
This looks like a cardboard
box with a plastic lid, which
means it came out around
1962-63 to compete with
Rapala, as very few could
afford Rapala. It is very good
to fish with. I would value at
$5.
16
| BASSMASTER June 2018
BY LOUIE STOUT
It was Bobby Murray. My dad
and granddad took me to his
seminar in Dallas when I was
like 6 or 7 years old.
Back then, the pros wore
one-piece jumpsuits that
zipped up the front and had
sponsor patches on them. I
thought that was so cool.
Anyway, Bobby was saying
things about bass fishing that
lit a fire in me that made me
want to start bass fishing. My
granddad made the mistake of
buying me a subscription to
Bassmaster Magazine, and I
read everything in it. Today,
Bobby and his brother Billy do
promotional work with Pradco,
one of my sponsors, and it’s
still a wild moment for me
anytime I see those guys.
2017 B.A.S.S. Nation champion
Caleb Sumrall
Believe it or not, I used to
watch Bill Dance and Larry
Nixon VHS tapes on a VHS
player instead of cartoons on
TV. I’d watch them, then rewind
and watch them over again.
They ignited my passion for
bass fishing, but strange as it
sounds, I didn’t start tournament fishing until five years
ago.
Bassmaster College Series
champion Jacob Foutz
I remember watching Kevin
VanDam and Rick Clunn and
wanting to fish professionally
and someday be as good as
them. Since making the
Classic, I’ve been fortunate
enough to be around them,
and it means the world to me
that they’ve been helpful and
supportive. And, at age 19,
here I am fishing against
them!
Elite Series pro Jesse Wiggins
Kevin VanDam went on his
Classic run and was getting a
lot of coverage when I was in
high school. I didn’t think I
could be a pro, but seeing what
he did to the sport made me
want to pursue this … and now
I get to launch my boat beside
him every morning!
Yamaha Product Specialist
Ry Landry says it’s the same
for all Yamaha 4-stroke
motors. For the first hour,
operate at varying speeds up
to 2,000 rpm, or approximately half throttle for boats
without a tachometer.
“For the second hour,
increase motor speed enough
to get the boat on plane while
avoiding full throttle, then
back off just enough to keep it
on plane,” says Landry. “For
the next eight hours, run the
motor normally but avoid staying at full throttle for more
than five minutes at a time.”
And make it enjoyable, he
adds.
“I personally like to do some
fishing while breaking in a
motor,” he says.
Good advice, wouldn’t you
say?
How do pro anglers distribute
weight evenly in their boats? I’ve
been having a problem blasting
off with full gas tanks and
livewells.
@Scottydeck, Instagram
Phoenix Boats President Gary
Clouse says weight will always
affect bass boat performance.
The rule of thumb is to put
heavier items in the back half
of the boat and never excessively overweight one side.
That can improve the hole
shot.
“I don’t always follow my own
advice,” Clouse admits. “Like
most anglers, I put all of my
tackle in the front compartments, and life jackets and
rainsuits in the rear compartments. Although this will slow
the boat down some on the top
end, I’m willing to sacrifice a
little speed to have my tackle
easily accessible.”
Also, Clouse notes, you will
get a better hole shot, top-end
speed and slow-speed turns by
carrying less weight.
SEE MORE, FIND MORE,
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schemes. We know you’ll be catching more, just like Lowrance anglers winning
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On The Line
MAIL CALL
YOU WRITE THE CAPTION!
FACEBOOK.COM/BASS
Scientific Angle
To celebrate Father’s Day, we
asked Bassmaster readers to
send us a picture of fishing with
dad, and let us know why he
loves casting a line!
Dear Mr. Hall, I’ve been an avid
Bassmaster reader since I can
remember, spreading my grandfather’s magazines across the
floor, looking at the pictures and
actually learning to read from
them. Seeing B.A.S.S. finally
promoting health and fitness is
an exciting and long overdue
subject. Being a former personal
trainer and strength coach for
10-plus years and now a nurse,
I’ve been waiting for this day for
years! I’m so happy to see y’all
promote a healthy lifestyle on
and off the water. Thanks so
much for the great publication,
what y’all do for the sport, and
the fans! Keep up the good work!
Chad Lawrence, Louisiana
Illustrations: Arturo Gonzalez Murga
Caring About Conservation
Landon Harrington completed
his conservation project for this
year at the Sleepy Creek Lake in
Morgan County, W.Va. He had
the help of two local businesses,
McCoy’s Tree Farm and
Landscaping and Mock’s greenhouse and landscaping with
their donation of Christmas
trees. His uncle Lynn Dunham
donated the blocks to help hold
the freshly formed habitats
underwater. John Miller,
Brandon Keplinger and a District
2 DNR officer with the
Department of Natural
Resources assisted the Berkeley
Springs High School fisherman
with his project. He has to date
recycled 65 Christmas trees for
the habitat area. Patty Caldwell, West Virginia
It’s your turn to write a cutline for your favorite magazine.
Follow B.A.S.S. on Instagram (@bass_nation) and comment with
a clever caption on this cartoon that will be posted on our feed on
June 1, 2018. If your caption is chosen, it will be printed in an
upcoming issue.
Last Month’s Post
17,220
1,023
Nicole
Barrett
For Father’s
Day 2016 my son and I took his
dad on a weekend camping trip to
the river. I took some photos of
them fishing but didn’t get one
together so on Father’s Day my son
combined the two of them in this
picture and posted it on Facebook
with a sweet tribute to his dad. A
month later his dad passed away
in a tragic accident. This was the
last picture of them fishing and the
best memory for my son. His dad
taught him since he was a toddler
to be the angler he is today and he
will be fishing in the Bassmaster
High School Eastern Open tomorrow. He taught his son well!
Shelby
Hicks
Swartzwelder
Right after I had
our second
child our oldest (pictured) was
dying to go fishing but I needed
some help still — so being the
great dad that he is, he figured
out how to “fish” in the
backyard.
TWITTER POLL
The winning caption:
Casting shadows of the future.
@rjopek
What was the most important innovation in the 2010s?
#Bassmaster
scanning/down
66% Side
scanning
7% Lightweight 4-strokes
Supporting Our Troops
This is a pic of my son, PFC Ewing, Brice, U.S. Marine. He has grown up
fishing with his dad and family on the Potomac River. He is now stationed
and spends his spare time, when he has it, doing what he loves: fishing,
fishing, fishing.
Angie Ewing
18
| BASSMASTER June 2018
3% Photo-sharing apps
trolling
24% Spot-Lock
motors
The only thing
that hasn’t changed
in the last 50 years
is the fish.
Congratulations to B.A.S.S. for 50 years of bringing bass fishing to the masses.
We’re proud to be with you on the journey these past 10 years.
www.power-pole.com
Gear Grab
By Thomas Allen Senior Editor
Leading Ledge Options
[EXTRAS]
Quantum Smoke S3 PT
$169 | quantumfishing.com
Features:
• Smoke S3 offers the mostever cast control choices at
16, on a larger, easier to see
and easier to turn external
dial
• Includes an over-engineered,
deeper spool with more
capacity that increases casting distance, yet still has a
sturdy and ergonomically
friendly frame
• New ACS 4.0 cast control
system is lighter and minimizes the amount of energy
required to get the spool
spinning during the cast
• Available in four ideal gear
ratios: 5.1:1, 6.1:1, 7.3:1
and 8.1:1, as well as three
lefthanded models
Fenwick Elite Tech Bass
$149.95 | fenwickfishing.com
Features:
• Fenwick’s Hidden
Handle Design allows
function and comfort
to coexist, reducing
hand and arm fatigue
during long days on
the water
• 7-foot, 11-inch heavy
power moderate action
model (ETB711HMC)
is ideal for working a
heavy jig along a deep
ledge
• Titanium frame guides
are extremely lightweight and very
durable
• EVA and TAC handle
design is not only very
eye appealing, but
provides a solid grip,
even when wet
• 11 casting and seven
spinning rods available
in the Elite Tech Bass
series
20
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
Berkley PowerBait MaxScent
Kingtail
Lowrance HDS Carbon 9
$2,049-$2,599
lowrance.com
$6.99 | berkley-fishing.com
Features:
• Designed to slow down the sink rate, keeping it in the strike
zone longer
• MaxScent line of baits releases a supercharged scent field that
attracts bass eager to feed
• Ribbed body provides more surface area for greater scent
dispersion
• Soft yet durable material makes for easier hookups and
provides a lifelike action bass find hard to resist
• Worm measures 8 inches and is available in 10 forage-mimicking colors
Humminbird Solix 10
$1,999.99-$2,299.99
humminbird.com
Buckeye Lures Mop Jig
$4.29-$4.59 | berkley-fishing.com
Features:
• Each Mop Jig is hand tied with
heavy living rubber, adding
extreme realism that deepwater bass love to attack
• Elongated skirt adds the
mop-like profile that moves and undulates on bottom
• Head design allows the jig to easily stand up; even at rest the
defensive posture will generate bites
• All Mop Jigs come dressed with double rattles and a Mustad
Flippin Hook
• Available in four weights and eight colors
Top Brass Tungsten
$5.99-$8.99
topbrasstackle.com
Sufix Castable Invisiline 100 Percent Fluorocarbon
$14.39-$52.69 | rapala.com
Features:
• Invisiline is virtually invisible under water,
offers low stretch, sinks quickly and casts
and handles like premium monofilament
• Low-stretch index ensures optimal hook
setting power
• Handles very well in and around dense structure due to its very abrasion-resistant
properties
• Works very efficiently on both spinning and
casting reels
• Exclusive G2 Precision Winding eliminates
line memory
• Available in 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 17 and 20 pound
tests, and three different spool capacities
Mustad GripPin Big Bite
Hooks
$5.69-$7.99
mustad-fishing.com
YOUR FREE GIFTS ARE READY TO SHIP.
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Your FREE Gifts
Your BENEFITS
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•
•
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Bassmaster Tips Book
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Automatic Entry for Monthly Prizes
Tournament and B.A.S.S. Nation Eligibility
Plus Additional Member Discounts
Email address provides access to full member benefits including news and special offers from B.A.S.S. All but $1 of annual dues applied to BASSMASTER subscription.
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status. You can cancel at anytime and receive a refund of all unused dues. We reserve the right to substitute with similar products.
Special Advertising Section
COMPETITION, CAMARADERIE
AND TRADITION
presented by
In its 70th year of building revered bass
A Slew Of Prizes
of what makes the Skeeter Owner’s Tournament a
boats, Skeeter is hosting their 25th annual Part
success is that Skeeter goes all out with prizing.
Skeeter Owner’s Tournament. Last year’s
Lake Fork’s 16- to 24-inch slot limit prompted Skeeter to
event broke records with 1,192 boats and 2,350 anglers
who went home with over $200,000 in cash and prizes.
The 2018 Skeeter Owner’s Tournament, slated for June 7
through June 10, at Lake Fork Marina in Lake Fork, Texas, is
likely to set new records.
The Skeeter Owner’s Tournament has become much more
than a competition and prize fest. It brings anglers and
families together in a celebration of bass ishing where new
friendships abound and friends made at previous Skeeter
Owner’s tournaments are reunited. Some of the anglers in
2018 will be participating in their 25th Skeeter Tournament.
“Some families make this gathering a vacation,” said
JoAnne OBryant, Skeeter Boats senior marketing projects
manager. “We have folks coming from as far away as Florida,
Tennessee, Colorado and Hawaii. This annual event brings
us all together.”
The celebration begins at noon Thursday with on-site
registration. Members of the Skeeter Lake Fork Guide Team
will be on hand to provide tournament tips. There will also
be ish tanks for kids, sponsor exhibits on display and test
rides in Skeeter Boats provided by the Skeeter Demo Team.
create two size divisions. Bass 24 inches and longer may
be entered for the biggest bass award, which is a Skeeter
FX20 bass boat powered by a Yamaha SHO 250, along with
a Skeeter Built Trailer, Lowrance Electronics and a Minn
Kota trolling motor. Last year’s winning bass weighed 9.36
pounds, and it has taken bass heavier than 10 pounds to
win some of the previous Skeeter Owner’s tournaments.
“Lake Fork is one of the top trophy bass lakes in the
country,” OBryant said. “A lot of ishermen have it on their
bucket list.”
The angler who catches the heaviest bass less than 16
inches in length wins a Yamaha Viking Side-by-Side off-road
utility vehicle.
Special Advertising Section
While supplies last, entrants receive an oficial 25th
Anniversary Owner’s Tournament T-shirt and may purchase
one limited edition rod for $60 and one pair of Costa
sunglasses online for $60.
Skeeter Beans And BBQ
Following the irst weigh-in on Saturday, contestants and
their families are treated to a BBQ buffet that includes
world-famous “Skeeter Beans” and smoked brisket.
“Last year our staff conducted more than 340 demo rides
and prepared over 2,200 pounds of brisket, truly making
this a Skeeter and Yamaha family event,” said Jeff Stone,
Skeeter Boat’s vice president and general manager.
As many as three anglers may ish the tournament from
a Skeeter boat, provided one of the anglers owns the
boat. But this is not a team tournament. Each angler may
register one bass per hour throughout the two competition
days. The 10 largest bass each hour will be awarded
prizes, which amounts to 130 chances to win. KMOO Real
Country (99.9 FM) provides a tournament update three
times each hour.
Saturday evening is also prize night for the Skeeter Toy
Drive. Fish Fishburne will draw the winner. After Sunday’s
inal weigh-in, the main tent will be packed as the winners
receive their awards.
Lady Division anglers who catch the top three bass win
additional prizes. Junior anglers who weigh in the four
biggest bass also receive prizes.
More Fun And Prizes
Fifty numbered, little yellow ducks are placed all about
the venue, with most of them being on the water. Each
duck turned in by a registered contestant is worth a prize
package valued at $300 to more than $1,000.
“Some folks don’t even ish the tournament, they look for
a duck!” OBryant said. “Our vendor partners are another
reason the Skeeter Owner’s Tournament has been so
successful. They provide such amazing prizes.”
Contestants who donate a toy worth $20 or more for local
children and families in need are put into a drawing for a
Yamaha Kodiak 450 ATV. The goal is to ill a boat several
times with toys. Contestants who also take a demo ride in
a Skeeter Boat receive an extra ticket for the drawing.
A Tradition of Innovation
Skeeter’s customer loyalty stems from their history of innovations and
excellence. It began 70 years ago when Holmes Thurman of Shreveport,
La., built the irst Skeeter Bass Boat of molded marine plywood. In the
1950s Skeeter was one of the irst to use iberglass in boat construction.
The Skeeter Wrangler, introduced in 1975, was the irst V-Hull pad design
and the irst bass boat rated for a 150-horsepower outboard.
Sponsons on the transom for more stability at rest and better
performance on plane is another Skeeter innovation. Skeeter also
introduced the irst composite bass boat, the ZX202. Today, all Skeeter
boats incorporate aerospace derivatives known as EX-Cel composites for
unparalleled strength in the hull, transom, stringers and floor.
“The tournament is put on by Skeeter employees and
volunteers, from the setup, cooking the BBQ for Saturday
night, the weigh-ins, straight to tear down on Sunday
afternoon,” OBryant said. “This is one of the biggest
events of the year for all of us at Skeeter to say ‘thank
you!’ to our Skeeter owners.”
For more information on attending the Skeeter Owner’s
Tournament or Sponsoring the event, contact JoAnne OBryant at
JoAnne_OBryant@yamaha-motor.com.
50 Milestones
2010s
of the
By MARK HICKS
The past eight years saw immense
improvements in technology, record fish
being caught, the loss of B.A.S.S. legends
and the rise of new bass fishing stars
A
ALTHOUGH THE 2000s saw a significant
increase in the use of space-age technology in
bass fishing, it is safe to say that manufacturers didn’t fully incorporate it until this
decade. The sonar wars of the 2010s created
the most significant and rapid advancements
the industry has ever witnessed. These
advancements spilled over into trolling
motors and outboards, as well.
The 2010s have also been defined by the
loss of bass-fishing greats like Ken Cook and
Doug Hannon. We lost longtime illustrator
Chris Armstrong and writer Wade Bourne.
But the rise of new superstars like Brandon
Palaniuk and Jordan Lee solidify the continuation of greatness in our sport.
It’s amazing to look back at the past eight
years and see how far the sport has advanced
in such a short amount of time. It will be
equally as exciting to see what the next 10
years will bring.
24
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
2010
»
ESPN Inc. sells B.A.S.S. LLC to an investment group led
by Don Logan, Jerry McKinnis and Jim Copeland.
Logan once oversaw Time Inc., America Online, Time
Warner Cable and the Time Warner Book Group.
McKinnis was the host of ESPN’s second longestrunning show, The Fishin’ Hole. It aired from 1980 to
2007. Copeland served on the board of directors of three
Fortune 500 companies.
»
Friends of Reservoirs (FOR), a nonprofit organization,
forms to enhance and restore fish habitat in lakes across
the country. Private fundraising and a small federal
appropriation to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would
support these projects. Several B.A.S.S. Nation clubs
have since partnered with their state’s fishery management agencies to receive grants for habitat projects.
»
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico
explodes on April 20, killing 11 people and causing the
worst oil spill in U.S. history. An estimated 3.19 million
barrels of oil leak into the Gulf before the well is capped
three months later, causing a major ecological disaster for
marine and wildlife habitats. Despite massive cleanup
efforts, the spill impairs commercial fishing, tourism and
recreational saltwater and freshwater fishing.
»
Hobie Cat introduces the Pro Angler. This oversized
yak is built for anglers and defines a new category of
fisherman-focused small boats.
»
The high school bass fishing revolution begins. Four states
sanction bass fishing as a high school sport. Now, almost
every state in the nation has high school fishing teams.
»
ESPN adds bass fishing to its fantasy games. It remains
very popular today.
»
Bradley Roy becomes the youngest angler ever to enter the
Elite Series ranks. The 19-year-old qualified through the
Bassmaster Opens, and remains a consistent Elite Series pro.
www.friendsofresevoirs.com
2011
»
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Paul Elias sets off the
Alabama Rig craze by catching over 100 pounds of bass
with it during an FLW tournament on Alabama’s Lake
Guntersville. Alabama Rig inventor Andy Poss works out
a deal that makes Mann’s Bait Co. the sole manufacturer
of the Alabama Rig. Many other companies introduce
A-Rig knockoffs. In 2012, the A-Rig is banned from the
Bassmaster Classic and Bassmaster Elite Series. It is
banned from Bassmaster Opens tournaments in 2015.
The B.A.S.S. Nation and the Bassmaster College Series
follow suit.
»
Radar is used for the first time in a B.A.S.S. tournament,
the Bassmaster Classic on the Louisiana Delta. Skeet
Reese, Terry Butcher, Edwin Evers and Gary Klein have
their boats rigged with Lowrance’s BR 23 Broadband
Radar. Lowrance introduced the unit in 2009 after five
years of research and development. Even in the dark and
in dense fog, Reese claims the radar let him see navigation buoys three-quarters of a mile ahead.
»
Toronto, Canada, native Dave Mercer becomes the emcee
for the Bassmaster Classic and the Bassmaster Elite
Series. His first gig is hosting the Bassmaster Classic in
New Orleans. “At one time, I used to dream about fishing
the Bassmaster Classic,” Mercer says. “Then, after I
fished with some of the Elite Series pros and realized
how good they are, I altered my dream to emceeing the
Classic.”
»
The EPA waives a limit on the use of ethanol in fuel,
paving the way for widespread E15 usage. This is bad
news for anglers, and worse news for older outboards.
»
Don Logan, Jerry McKinnis and Jim Copeland bought
B.A.S.S. in 2010. The trio announce the company would
move from Florida to Alabama — Birmingham to be
specific — in this issue of Bassmaster.
»
The biggest bass anyone has ever seen was intensely
studied after it was found dead in 2008. After three years
of scrutiny, Bassmaster explains why Dottie, the
25-pounder from California, was a very special fish.
Back
Deck
By DAVE
26
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
PRECHT
Editor In
Chief
2012
»
Texan Andrew Upshaw is the first College Series champion to fish the
Bassmaster Classic. While pursuing a marketing degree at Stephen F.
Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas, Upshaw earned his berth in the
2012 Red River Classic by winning the College Series Championship on the
Arkansas River in 2011. He finishes 31st at the Classic and would go on to
become a professional tournament pro.
»
Humminbird unveils 360 Imaging at the Bassmaster Classic. The 360 Imaging
transducer may be mounted on the shaft of an electric trolling motor or to a
special bracket fixed to the boat’s transom. It allows the angler to see structure,
cover and fish in a circle all around the boat to a distance of 150 feet. A diagonal
beam turns clockwise on the graph’s display and continually refreshes the
image. “When you’re sitting in place, it gives you the full layout of the bottom,”
says 2017 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Brandon Palaniuk. “You can
see every single lily pad, a ditch, grass patches, stumps and brushpiles.”
»
Raymarine introduces the Dragonfly GPS/Fishfinder Combo, the first fishing
sonar to have CHIRP (Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse) technology
geared for freshwater anglers. Unlike traditional fishing sonar, which sends
out one or two pulses, CHIRP sends a “sweep” of multiple sonar pulses in
different frequencies, resulting in far more detailed images on screen.
»
Lowrance introduces the Insight Genesis program. It lets anglers create
custom maps by uploading their own on-the-water sonar readings to
Lowrance with a PC. Lowrance then generates a personalized map from
the readings that shows highly detailed contour lines, vegetation layers
and bottom hardness. The angler may download the map and have it
displayed on compatible Lowrance graphs via an SD card.
»
For the first time ever, Bassmaster Magazine takes on the chore of ranking
the best bass fisheries in the nation. The 100 Best Bass Lakes franchise
would become one of the most talked about features in the history of the
publication. It is still published every July.
2013
»
The name of the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation is changed to B.A.S.S. Nation.
The B.A.S.S. Nation is made up of B.A.S.S.-affiliated clubs throughout the
country. The clubs provide opportunities for anglers to compete in bass
tournaments at local, state and national levels and an opportunity to fish
in the Bassmaster Classic.
»
An obituary for Doug Hannon, “The Bass Professor,” is published. Hannon, 66
when he died, appeared frequently in the pages of Bassmaster since the 1970s.
»
B.A.S.S. fans are introduced to Jordan Lee, a young gun on the college
circuit who qualified for the Classic through the Carhartt College Classic
Bracket. He would go on to win back-to-back Classics in 2017 and 2018.
(continued)
November 2013
May 2013
The first illustration by
Arturo
Gonzalez
Murga is
printed in
Bassmaster.
Murga has
been an
invaluable
contributor
ever since.
Sept/Oct 2013
Spybaiting becomes
the newest bait and
technique to migrate
from Japan to the
U.S. The finesse
tactic would eventually be responsible
for several major
B.A.S.S. tournament
wins.
Nothing groundbreaking,
other than one of the
coolest photo/illustrations ever published in
Bassmaster. The cyborg
Clunn turned out better
than we expected.
April 2014
Dr. Gary Schwarz believes he discovered the
secret to growing a world record bass: food
plots. By growing freshwater prawns in forage
tanks and then flushing them into his lake, the
growth of his largemouth is off the charts.
June 2014
B.A.S.S.
announces a
new event in
the Elite
Series
season:
BASSfest.
This is like a
midseason
Bassmaster
Classic,
complete with
pro seminars
and vendor
booths.
July/Aug 2014
Longtime
Bassmaster illustrator Chris
Armstrong dies.
The cover memorializes his contribution to the sport.
June 2018 BASSMASTER
| 27
2014
»
The inaugural BASSfest on Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga attracts throngs
of fans from around the country. The Elite pros and the best anglers from
the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens compete in the tournament. Fans
have an opportunity to meet the pros at an expo that includes vendors,
crafters, concessions and more. Indiana angler Jacob Wheeler wins the
tournament with 90 pounds, 6 ounces and earns the $125,000 purse. Three
years later, Wheeler would become a Bassmaster Elite Series pro.
»
The top prize for the Bassmaster Classic is reduced from $500,000 to
$300,000 to increase the payout for 41st- through 50th-place finishers in
Elite Series qualifying events. This is done with input from the Elite Series
pros.
»
Humminbird’s Autochart Live allows anglers with compatible
Humminbird graphs to combine GPS and sonar data into an incredibly
detailed digital LakeMaster map instantly while on the water. No waiting
or off-the-water processing is required.
»
The IGFA certifies a new all-tackle world record spotted bass. Keith Bryan
caught the 10.48-pound giant from New Melones Reservoir in California.
2015
»
Bassmaster LIVE debuts at the GEICO Bassmaster Classic on Lake
Hartwell. The innovative live-stream, on-the-water programming changes
the way fans follow competitive bass fishing, allowing them to watch the
action as it happens, in real time.
»
Garmin introduces Panoptix. Unlike other fishing sonar, Panoptix shows
what is under the surface in real time and in colors similar to that of a
traditional 2-D display. The angler sees fish and baitfish as they move, a
lure as it sinks or swims and a bass as it attacks a lure. When a Panoptix
transducer is mounted to a trolling motor shaft, the angler can see what is
in front of the transducer before the boat runs over it.
»
Lowrance ushers in StructureScan 3-D. This technology quickly scans the
bottom and creates high-resolution three-dimensional views. The 3-D
display gives anglers a better understanding of how the bottom is shaped
and where potential fish-holding structure lies.
»
The newly released Revo Rocket breaks a speed barrier with its 9:1 gear
ratio. The reel picks up 37 inches of line per turn of the reel handle.
»
»
Longtime B.A.S.S. weighmaster Harold Sharp dies at 88 years old.
Bassmaster announces the creation of the Bassmaster High School
All-American Team. The 12 most outstanding high school anglers are
recognized.
Januar
A Master’s
The Magazine Through The Years
June 2016
Jan/Feb 2016
March 2015
Classic Preview 2015
Rapala introduces
Evinrude launches the the Shadow Rap,
most radical-looking
which quickly would
outboard anglers have become its best
seen to date: the
selling bait since the
E-Tec G2.
Shad Rap.
28
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
This photo of Aaron
Martens is the first we
have ever shot of an
angler under the water.
It commemorates his
rise to Angler of the
Year for a second time.
Dave Precht
announces the
addition of spotted
bass requirements
for Lunker Club
submissions. The
minimum weight
requirement is 5
pounds.
Nov/Dec 2016
For the first time ever, the popular “Day
On The Lake” series features a team of
anglers casting for a single limit. Brothers
Matt and Jordan Lee make a remarkable
elite team, landing a 24-12 limit of bass.
2016
»
Minn Kota changes the game with its Ultrex trolling motor. The
electric-steer motor combines the cable-steer response that is essential for fishing in shallow water with Spot-Lock electronic anchoring
and a host of other GPS capabilities, such as cruise control. Step on a
button and the Ultrex automatically holds your position over deep
water while you cast to a money hole, land a bass or fiddle with
tackle. The Ultrex also has the option of i-Pilot Link, which allows
the motor to communicate with compatible Humminbird graphs for
even more GPS functions, such as automatically following a bottom
contour.
»
James Watson of Lampe, Mo., sparks interest in the Whopper Plopper
by winning a Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open on Table Rock. Elite
Series pro Chris Lane of Alabama puts Whopper Plopper mania into
motion by using the novel topwater plug to finish second at an Elite
Series tournament on Toledo Bend. The original 190 size was popular with pike and muskie anglers. Lane and Watson use the smaller
130 size Whopper Plopper that River2Sea created for bass fishing.
»
Legendary bass angler Rick Clunn wins an Elite Series tournament
on Florida’s St. Johns River at age 69. It is his 15th Bassmaster
victory. Clunn’s most recent previous win was the 2002 Bassmaster
Central Open on Sam Rayburn.
»
Humminbird vastly increases the sharpness and clarity of its Side
Imaging and Down Imaging displays with MEGA Imaging. It accomplishes this by increasing the output of standard Side and Down
Imaging by nearly three times. Humminbird claims MEGA Imaging
takes fish finding into the megahertz frequency for the first time.
»
In this parting shot, we say goodbye to Ken Cook, 1991 Bassmaster
Classic champion, who died peacefully in his sleep on Jan. 8, 2016.
He was 68 years old.
»
“Have you tried the Ned Rig?” the Z-Man
ad asks. This is the first time many
anglers heard of the term. This little
finesse technique is now widely used.
»
Toledo Bend Reservoir becomes the first
fishery ever to hold the No. 1 spot in
Bassmaster’s 100 Best Bass Lakes rankings
two years in a row.
(continued)
Upfront
By JAMES HALL Editor
Heal, Water, Heal
“I SELL FUN.” That is how Wade Bourne
described his job as an outdoor journalist.
It’s difficult for me to write about him in the past
tense, as Wade was a longtime friend, fishing companion and hunting partner. He was the writer that
I try to be. He was the family man other men look to
emulate. On Dec. 15, at 69 years old, Wade suffered
a massive heart attack and died while cutting
down a Christmas tree on his Tennessee farm. He is
survived by his wife Becky, son Hampton, daughter
Haley, and brother Joe.
As for selling fun, nobody was better at it
than Wade. The Tennessee native hosted radio
and television shows (primarily for Ducks
Unlimited), authored six books, published more
than 3,000 magazine articles and was a senior
writer for this magazine for over 40 years.
What made Wade special, though, was that he
was not only prolific, but also profoundly talented.
The TV producers called him “One Take Wade,” because that’s all he needed to nail a script. The manuscripts he submitted for this publication were
spotless, thoughtful and informative. His awards
are too numerous to list, but they include the
Homer Circle Fishing Communicator Award, the
Southeastern Outdoor Press Association’s Lifetime
Achievement Award, induction into the Legends of
the Outdoors Hall Of Fame and the National
Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
I had hopes it
might help push
back the
heartbreak his
death was causing
me. Call it a
selfish act of
literary reflection.
10 BASSMASTER
Wade’s sharp wit, booming voice and addictive laugh made conversation with him a joy. He
also was a deacon at his church and a Sunday
School teacher for more than two decades. So,
whether I was in need of a good joke or spiritual
guidance, his number was on speed dial.
His contribution to Bassmaster on a monthly
basis came in the form of the Bass Patterns department. However, Wade delivered some of the
best features ever printed in Bassmaster. His
“Saddam’s Waters” piece that appeared in the
July/August 2004 issue detailed how servicemen
were finding peace in the midst of war by using
a fishing rod instead of a gun. Military themes
were close to Wade’s heart, as he served as a U.S.
Air Force pilot before beginning his career as an
outdoor journalist. “A Fallen Hero,” which
appeared in the December 2005 issue, was the
story of Tre’ Ponder, a soldier in a top-secret
Army special operations unit. Ponder was a
member of Wade’s Sunday School class and an
avid bass angler. Wade was on the notification
team that had to inform Ponder’s family that the
soldier had been killed on a rescue mission.
Wade said that was the most difficult thing he
had ever done, but that it reminded him of all
the men and women who pay the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms; one of the most important,
at least to him, was enjoying the outdoors.
I lost my father around 2004, which happened to be very close to the time Wade’s
father died. He helped me through that very
difficult time and as a result of our conversations, I assigned him the only serious piece of
fiction ever published in Bassmaster. I reread
his “Healing Waters” feature from the March 2004 issue after I returned from his funeral. I remember him telling me that writing it
was cathartic, helping him through the grieving process of losing
his father. I had hopes it might help push back the heartbreak his
death was causing me. Call it a selfish act of literary reflection.
The story told of a relationship between a father and a son. The
two had been longtime fishing buddies. However, the son had gone
to war and returned a different man, emotionally damaged. The
father took his son to the river they once fished together, and
taught him how to smile again; how to have fun. The son remembers this lesson as his father is on his deathbed, fighting a losing
battle after a massive stroke had stolen all mental and physical
abilities. The son brings his father a jar of water from the river they
fished and places a lure in his father’s hands. “Be healed,” he whispered to his father before walking out of the room for the last time.
It’s fitting that Wade’s words are what lifted my spirits after his
death. Words he penned 13 years ago offered me perspective on how
to grieve for him, why to continue his job of selling joy, and why water, at least to me, heals. Although Wade’s byline will no longer appear in this publication, his influence lives on.
Classic Preview 2017
Classic Preview 2017
Longtime Bassmaster contributor Wade Bourne dies unexpectedly in December 2016. His
legacy was detailed in this issue.
{ Gear
Grab }
By THOMAS ALLEN Senior Editor
New Products To See At
The 2017 Classic Expo
Humminbird Solix,
$2,399.99-$3,499.99
You are looking at the next big thing in
electronics, literally. Humminbird just
released the Solix family of electronic interfaces, which will be available in 12- to 15inch units. Yes, 15-inch units. The technology behind the big screens will bring
unprecedented clarity and detail to anglers
through Mega Imaging, which produces up
to three times more detail than standard
imaging sonar. Now featuring touchscreens
with the company’s Cross Touch technology,
up to four independent viewing panes can be
customized to fit specific needs. Solix can
be networked through high-speed Ethernet
to other Solix or Helix units and is now
Bluetooth enabled. The standard features
that have made Humminbird so great are
only enhanced with Solix, including Chirp,
iPilot and iPilot Link, SmartStrike, AutoChart
Live and so much more. humminbird.com
Quantum Smoke, $199.99
This is the very reel that
reigning 2016 Toyota
Bassmaster Angler of the Year
Gerald Swindle rode to his
exciting title. The baitcaster is
built with a large 200-size
spool that holds 180 yards of
12-pound test on a compact,
yet lightweight frame. The
gears are housed inside an
aluminum frame and side
cover. The new Smoke HD has
the body of a sports car with a
1-ton diesel truck’s pulling
power. It’s available in 7.3:1,
6.6:1 and 5.3:1 gear ratios.
quantumfishing.com
18 BASSMASTER
Yeti Hopper Flip 12,
$279.99
Plano Plastic Worm
StowAway, $7.99-$9.99
Storm 360GT Searchbait,
$4.99-$5.99
Soft-sided coolers have
been convenient but unreliable. That is until Yeti decided
to build one. In 2016, Yeti
introduced the Hopper Flip 12,
which solved all the common
problems associated with soft
coolers through its tough-asnails materials and design.
The Flip is a small, cubeshaped cooler that is
extremely portable. The cooler
will withstand serious abuse
while remaining 100 percent
leak proof and dependable.
yeti.com
Soft plastic storage is a
pain. The little bags just seem
to pile up. Plano has introduced two new StowAway
boxes, in 3600 and 3700
sizes, that will fix this issue.
Both sizes feature a dualsided design that comes
standard with clear lids.
Angled main compartments
have molded-in clips to keep
each individual bag in place.
The 3700 will hold at least 16
bags. The 3600 will hold fewer
but ups the ante with additional storage for terminal
tackle. planomolding.com
The new Storm 360GT
takes the next step in swimbait lure design. It features a
rattling, weighted, lifelike jighead that perfectly matches
the accompanying swimbait
body, with a toe-in, boot-tail fit
that improves swimming
action. The angled line tie
keeps the bait swimming in
perfect position, and the
highly detailed finish and holographic eyes will tempt any
bass into eating. The swimbait
is available in 11 colors and
three sizes. stormlures.com
Classic Preview 2017
Classic Preview 2017
The battle for the biggest
screen in the electronics
market leads Humminbird to
introduce a 15-inch Solix at
the Bassmaster Classic Expo.
A Twist On Fishing
For Suspenders p. 38
{ Short
Casts }
Remembering
Cliff Shelby
Cliff Shelby, who brought the characters of Bassmaster
Magazine’s Harry ‘N’ Charlie humor feature to life
through his artwork, has died. Shelby lived with his wife,
Karen, in Maumelle, Ark. Karen was by his side when he
died Saturday, Jan. 21. He was 75 years old.
His career encompassed advertising,
media relations and catalog production for leading fishing companies.
Shelby was best known as the
illustrator of the popular cartoon feature,
Harry ‘N’ Charlie, which ran in every issue
of Bassmaster for four decades, from
1971 through 2010. His partnership
with Don Wirth, who wrote the feature, led to a series of books and
even phonograph records of the best
adventures of the fictional B.A.S.S. club characters.
He leaves behind his wife, a daughter, Shea Shelby Smalling,
son Blake Shelby and stepson Levi Smelser, along with six
grandchildren, devoted friends and innumerable fans of his art
and his humor.
Ultimate Guide To
Topwater Selection p. 56
Aaron Martens’
Burning Desire p. 66
June 2017
The Worldwide Authority
On Bass Fishing
Shelby was just as much at
home with a fishing rod in his
hands as he was wielding a
paint brush.
Tournament
Fishing
Turns
March 2017
Cliff Shelby, illustrator of the
much-loved
Bassmaster
cartoon series
Harry ‘N’ Charlie,
dies at age 75.
Sighting In On
Shooting Bass p. 46
June 2017
How It All Began
p. 30
Ray Scott’s first
tournament was
held in 1967. This cover celebrates that
event, and the sport it created.
June 2018 BASSMASTER
| 29
2017
»
Alabamian Jordan Lee is the first angler who formerly competed in the
Bassmaster College Series to win the Bassmaster Classic.
»
Anderson Media Corp. acquires a majority stake in B.A.S.S. LLC. The
current owners remain involved, and Bruce Akin continues as CEO. Chase
Anderson of Anderson Media joins B.A.S.S. full time.
»
Keep America Fishing partners with B.A.S.S. Nation chapters to expand its
Pledge to Pitch It campaign. The campaign encourages fishermen to pitch
worn-out soft-plastic baits into the trash or to recycle them. The program
started in 2011 after senior writer Robert Montgomery wrote an article for
B.A.S.S. Times magazine about a large bass caught at Lake Amistad, Texas,
that was near death because its stomach was filled with soft-plastic baits.
»
The International Game Fish Association recognizes an 11-pound, 4-ounce
spotted bass as the new world record. It was caught by Nick Dulleck at
California’s New Bullards Bar on Feb. 12. The fish, which was released,
measured 24 1/4 inches in length and had a girth of 20 3/4 inches.
»
Here is the first feature defining the Neko rig and how to use it. The rig had
been popular in Japan and on the West Coast, but this brings national
recognition to the technique.
»
Berkley jumps back into the hard-bait category in a big way. It commissions
crankbait expert David Fritts to create his perfect lure. The Dredger is born.
»
Power-Pole launches the Vision and Charge. These are two accessories that
likely will be the future of controlling amenities, applications and charging
capabilities on bass boats.
»
The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame finds a home in the Wonders of Wildlife
National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Mo.
2018
STUNNING DETAIL
AND CLARITY TO
EACH SIDE OF BOAT.
BRIGHTEST, HIGHESTRESOLUTION DISPLAYS WITH
EXTREME VIEWING ANGLES
UNBEATABLE VIEWS OF FISH
AND FISH-HOLDING STRUCTURE
»
Elite Series pro Jordan Lee becomes the third angler to win the Bassmaster
Classic in consecutive years. He won the 2017 Classic on Lake Conroe,
Texas, and the 2018 Classic at Lake Hartwell, South Carolina. Bass fishing
legends Rick Clunn and Kevin VanDam are the only other anglers to have
won the Classic back-to-back.
»
Lowrance releases FishReveal. This new sonar technology makes fish
much easier to see on DownScan Imaging.
»
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Toyota ShareLunker Program
launches a new year-round participation season. Anglers catching bass 8
pounds or larger can enter their lunker through a mobile app or web application. Each verified entry receives a prize package. Through March 31,
each angler who loans a 13-pound or larger bass to the program joins
the Lunker Legacy Class and receives a host of valuable prizes.
EXCLUSIVE FISHREVEAL™ SMART
TARGET VIEWING BLENDS CHRIP
SONAR WITH HIGH-RESOLUTION
VIEW OF BOTTOM DETAIL
AMAZING NEW 3D
COLOR RANGE AND TONE
STRENGTH PRODUCE
NEAR-PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGES
The Magazine Through The Years
Upfront
Lowrance, HDS Carbon 16
$4,999-$5,799
The HDS Carbon 16 is a
new high-performance fishfinder/chartplotter with a 16inch screen. The screen
showcases clarity, high resolution and excellent target detail and separation thanks to
the SolarMAX HD technology.
This system includes
StructureScan 3D, SideScan
and DownScan Imaging,
StructureMap, Broadband
Radar and Sirius XM Weather
Chart Overlay. The dual-core
processor allows anglers to
switch between applications
and view independent sonar
feeds. lowrance.com
30
| BASSMASTER
Hope Floats
for was there.
everything she had worked
of lives was
Watching the destruction
roof, visible once the floodwaters
gut-wrenching.”
in the middle of
up in full force, as
The Cajun Navy showed
The vehicle was abandoned
of boats typically
Houston, as the water
U.S. 90 near downtown
well. This “navy” is a fleet
flooding dehunting, captained
quickly rose from the catastrophic90 would
used for fishing and duck
U.S.
These hunters
livered by Hurricane Harvey.
by Louisiana outdoorsmen.
feet of water. I can only
least 10,000 people
eventually sit under 16
and anglers rescued at
devastated New
out alive. The storm
pray the driver made it
when Hurricane Katrina
thousands more
inches of rain dumped
killed 77 people. The 52
Orleans, and certainly saved
all-time record for a sinon the region broke the
from the Harvey disaster.
from neighbornation and also damAnd help didn’t just come
gle rainfall event for the
the loss of
But
homes.
134,500
aged more than
ing states.
Bass
worse if not for bass
The Western Carolina University with
life could have been a lot
to assist,
outdoorsmen.
anglers and concerned
Fishing Club drove 15 hours
Jr., a Texas native,
raised $4,500 in a day
Elite Series pro Alton Jones
four boats in tow. They
everything and head
and delivered firstwas one of many to drop
with a GoFundMe page
What he saw when
vests, batteries and
to the affected area to help.
aid kits, tanks of gas, life
mind-boggling.
citizens of Houston.
displaced
to
he arrived in Houston was
more
would have
down the street
“There was a family wading sack over their
“I can assure you the numbers
and a
had citizens not
cradling a dog in one hand
been a lot higher on deaths
had left … they lost evthere weren’t enough
shoulder holding all they
stepped up to the plate ...
that heroes don’t
said Antonio Lopez,
erything. I learned quickly
responders to go around,”
heroes wearing duck
Texas.
wear capes. I saw a lot of
a fire chief from Weslaco,
mullets,” Jones
in the desire to
Individuals were not alone
hunting waders and sporting
of
feet
3
indusin
fishing
standing
the
said. “I talked to a mother
help. Many companies in
a baby in her arms,
assist in recovery
water in her kitchen holding because
try acted immediately to
30 outboards and
home
not wanting to leave her
efforts. Mercury deployed
command center in
10 inflatable boats to the
equipment and reTexas. Evinrude shipped
area and matched
sources to the Houston
the relief area dollaremployee donations to
five skiffs and cofor-dollar. Yamaha secured
to send
B.A.S.S. Nation for drivers
ordinated with the Texas
Pro Shops provided more
Bass
efforts.
rescue
for
down help
rescue orgagovernment agencies and
than 80 Tracker boats to
area.
nizations in the Houston
individuals
make it to ground zero,
For anglers who could not
Harvey
fund-raising efforts to benefit rafand companies initiated
Texan,
Combs, another native
relief. Elite Series pro Keith
proceeds to hurprizes and donated the
fled off $7,000 worth of
live broadcast
held a telethon during a
the storm
ricane victims. B.A.S.S.
who lost homes during
a
to benefit the first responders
Covercraft matched, dollar-for-dollar,
(Basmaster.com/relief).
Red Cross.
of $10,000 to the American
crowd-funded donation
selflessmany acts of kindness and
Honestly, there are too
is that andoes stand out, though,
ness to mention here. What
of dire need, and did not
time
in
assist
to
glers had the means
of Harvey, although heartbreakhesitate to do so. The stories so special about the men and
what is
ing, do shine a light on
to be part of the
never been more proud
women of our sport. I’ve
literally saw hope float
angling family. Many survivors
oftentimes it was
to their front door, and
shaped like a bass boat.
prop scars on its
THE FULL-SIZE SUV had
had receded.
Lowrance takes
over the title for
biggest electronics display with
the introduction
of the HDS
Carbon 16. The
16-inch screen is
bigger than some Nov/Dec 2017
anglers’ first
After Hurricane Harvey
television.
dumps a record amount of
rain on Houston, Texas,
an army of bass anglers
drive their boats down to
help rescue stranded
citizens.
June 2018
March 2018
By JAMES HALL Editor
Sept/Oct 2017
“I learned real
quick that heroes
don’t always wear
capes. I saw a lot of
heroes wearing
duck hunting
waders and
sporting mullets.”
10 BASSMASTER
Jan/Feb 2018
B.A.S.S.
turns 50!
This cover,
illustrated
by Jonathon
Milo, is a
re-creation
of one of
our favorite illustrated
covers from 1978. It features Ray
Scott battling a bass from a johnboat. This issue also marks the
first redesign of the magazine in
six years.
Glide baits, once a lure relegated to the West Coast, get
mainstream attention in this
feature. Smaller, more
affordable options make the
lure a nationwide choice.
Be the alpha.
The all-new 150hp Pro XS®.
Keep people talking long after you’ve
passed them. Lighter, faster, and ready
to make some noise.
Learn more at mercurymarine.com
Prognostications
of the
Bassmen
By LOUIE STOUT
SENIOR WRITER
Twenty-five years ago we asked
bass fishing insiders to imagine
what our sport would look like in 2018.
Here are the results of their predictions,
as well as predictions for the next 25 years
Illustration: Doug Schermer
Y
YOU COULD MAKE the case that bass fishing hasn’t
changed much in the past 50 years.
An angler can still launch his flat-bottom boat onto a lake
or pond, row out to his favorite spot, pick up an inexpensive
glass rod and hurl a topwater or plastic worm into a bass
haunt and catch a big fish.
That certainly hasn’t changed.
But today’s modern version of the bass fishing world has
given the sport an unequivocally different look from where
it was even 25 years ago.
There is no denying that professional bass tournaments
have blazed the trail in these changes, be it in lake management, environmental concerns or improved equipment and
techniques.
In June 1992, Bassmaster Magazine offered an in-depth
look at the sport’s previous 25 years and called upon experts
to speculate how it might look in the next 25.
At that time, specialists accurately predicted that bass
fishing would improve in the subsequent 25 years and that
fish managers would do a better job of managing those
(continued)
fisheries.
June 2018 BASSMASTER
| 33
Prognostications
of the
Bassmen
And while there is still work to be
done, that prediction couldn’t have
been more accurate. Lakes are not
only healthier but producing more
bass than ever before.
Angler appetite the past 25 years
has led to today’s incredible technological advancements, many of which
were seemingly wildly speculated by
experts in 1992.
The electronic age has spearheaded
the vast majority of those improvements, making anglers more efficient
at finding and catching bass.
So how will our sport progress over
the next 25 years? How much farther
can technology take us, and what
significant changes will we see?
Those were questions we posed to
industry experts as we look into the
next frontier of bass fishing.
The Resources: Water And Bass
Indeed, lake and river water quality has improved with more stringent
regulations. However, former
Oklahoma Wildlife Department fisheries biologist and current B.A.S.S.
Conservation Director Gene Gilliland
says new threats are upon us.
“For the past 25 years, we’ve
focused on what’s going inside the
lake, but now we have to spend time
and money in the watershed around
the lakes and rivers,” he says.
Today’s challenges are coming
from farming and ranching, where
nutrients from fertilizers are leeching
into lake systems.
“It’s changing our aging waterways,” Gilliland explains. “The
angler wants to worry about catching
fish and not how to keep the farmer
from over-fertilizing. That makes it
difficult from a management
standpoint.”
Habitat management is another
issue facing anglers. As more developers build homes around previously
undeveloped lakes, battle lines are
being drawn by lakefront property
owners who want less aquatic vegetation and to restrict access to the
public.
“There has to be a compromise on
vegetation control,” Gilliland says.
“Hydrilla and milfoil make good bass
Conservation And Management
Predictions for how fish and fisheries would be managed were all over the place
more than two decades ago. Some anglers thought that catch-and-release would
become mandatory. Others believed that the use of live bait would be outlawed and
that creel limits would be decreased while size limits were increased. But as a whole,
both pros and industry insiders predicted that lakes would be better managed and
that a world record largemouth would be
caught. Of course, this came true. The
surprise was that the record came from
Japan, although a record fish was also
caught in California, but was unable to
be verified because it was foul hooked.
Other conservation-oriented guesses
included outlawing bed fishing; setting
closed seasons for bass; controlling
water pollution and increasing the
stocking of bass.
All in all, the pundits were quite
accurate.
34
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
Pundits believe that the future of baits will
be finishes and actions so lifelike that even
anglers will not be able to distinguish the
fake from the real. Illustration: Doug Schermer
habitat, but there can be too much of
a good thing.”
Gilliland believes conflicts
between lake associations and
anglers will continue to be a burgeoning problem, as well.
“Unfortunately, the clout of lake
associations outweighs poorly organized anglers who lack the financial
backing in these areas,” he adds.
“The political battles will become a
bigger deal in the future.”
Nothing has impacted bass
management more than catch-andrelease practices that are more widely
accepted than they were two decades
ago. Fisheries managers have found
that length and bag limits aren’t
effective because harvest has become
pretty negligible, says Gilliland.
“Regulations are not as valuable of
a tool in bass management, so state
agencies will continue to focus on
habitat improvement,” he says. “Our
reservoirs are aging and the habitat is
degrading. Like all critters, the more
habitat you have, the more bass a
lake can support.”
Tackle And Lures
Today’s gear is lighter due to new
materials that offer better overall
performance.
Bruce Holt of G.Loomis says rod
weight has come down as much as 50
percent between the basic graphite
rod of yesteryear and the company’s
premium NRX series.
“At some point, it’s got to stop, but
you will continue to see further
Rod And Reel Tech
When anglers of yesteryear were asked to picture futuristic rods and reels, there was not a lot of outside-the-box
thinking — although one respondent did think fishing line
would be like fiber optics and fishermen would be able to
use lures to look into the water. Mainly, though, anglers
thought better materials would be created to make rods
more sensitive and weigh less. They also thought reels
would be built to cast more smoothly and be more durable.
The predictions came to fruition. Rods are lighter and
more sensitive, and reel technology has made products
more durable while enhancing casting and reducing
backlashes.
advancements to reduce weight,
whether it’s in blank materials, skeleton grips [or] guides,” he says.
Furthermore, quality rods have
come down in price, making them
more affordable, adds Andrew
Wheeler of Pure Fishing, the parent
company for Abu Garcia and others.
Looking ahead, Wheeler believes
rods will be built of a new material
that likely will come from the space
industry.
Ergonomic features have been implemented in reels, along with improved
braking systems and faster gearing. It
wasn’t long ago that 6.4:1 was high
speed. Now reels are at 8.0 and could
go faster in the years to come.
Wheeler expects futuristic reels to
implement electronics into
performance.
“There is some of that now, but
expect to see more integration of
electronics in low-profile reels,” he
predicts. “Electronics will control the
braking feature the way an angler
currently uses his thumb.”
Trey Epich of Shimano says we
might see a baitcast reel that can be
cast a long way without a backlash.
“I envision a reel with digitalized
braking systems that you can adjust
from a smartphone or the graph on
your boat,” he says. “An angler
could set wind speed and let the
reel make the necessary
adjustments.”
Fishing line is vastly different from
25 years ago.
Refined, small-diameter superlines
have become a major player, while
fluorocarbon — once limited to
leader material for some applications
— has supplanted monofilament as
the line of choice among many
competitive anglers.
Lure Predictions
In 1987, 1,000 anglers were asked to predict lure advancements over the next
20 years. Almost 18 percent believed there would be electronic baits, some
self-propelled, that could be controlled with a remote. These anglers also believed
that crankbaits would be engineered to breach the 20-foot mark, that new innovations in scent would make soft baits more attractive to bass, and that baits would
become so lifelike it would be
hard to tell them apart from
actual forage fish.
Except for the remotecontrolled lures, the experts hit
the nail on the head! Berkley
Gulp and MaxScent changed the
soft plastics game. Livingston
Lures makes a wide variety of
electronic baits with sound and
vibration. There are a handful of
cranks that dive deeper than 20
feet. And Live Target baits sometimes look better than actual
forage fish!
“There’s a good chance you will
see a line that has the diameter of
6-pound monofilament that we can
use for finesse fishing and flipping,”
said Konrad Kauland of PowerPro.
In addition, he says, developments
could lead to a clear superline within
the next 10 years.
“That’s the holy grail of fishing
line,” he insists.
Seaguar, the first company to
produce a manageable fluorocarbon,
triggered an influx of softer, flexible
fluorocarbon casting lines.
Despite some marketing claims
that fluorocarbon is totally invisible,
it isn’t under all fishing situations.
However, there is a push to improve
that and other performance qualities.
“You may see lines developed to
match the environment, such as with
color that matches different water
conditions and maintains or improves
its sink rate, abrasion resistance and
knot strength,” says Gerry Benedicto
of Seaguar. “I think you will see more
technique-specific fluorocarbon and
in-between sizes beyond what is out
there today.”
In soft-plastic lures, Berkley’s
PowerBait and Gulp have proven that
lures that dispense natural scents can
lead to more bites. Continued
research is expected to spawn even
better performing plastics to draw
more bass strikes.
Softer plastics and hand-poured
versions, once strictly a West Coast
fad, have engulfed the nation in a
variety of colors. That trend is
expected to grow.
Realistic-looking hard baits have
dominated the trend of recent years,
fed by the influx of Japanese lures;
expect even more realistic-looking
baits in the coming 25 years. (continued)
June 2018 BASSMASTER
| 35
Prognostications
of the
Bassmen
“As technologies grow from other
industries, we will be able to create
even more lifelike creatures,” says
Jeremy Albright of Pure Fishing’s
Berkley.
Livingston Lures broke the ground
by taking actual acoustical sounds
from different types of forage and
implanting those on a microchip placed
in each bait.
Eric Arnoldson of Livingston expects
that technology to grow beyond a lifelike-sounding lure.
“I’m talking about lures that use
Bluetooth technology to record things
like water temperature and location of
a hooked fish and transmit it back to
the angler’s boat console or smartphone,” he says. “You might even be
able to compile data for the next time
you’re on that lake that will tell you the
lure you used to fish successfully on
that spot.”
Mark Fisher of Rapala says the
manufacturing process has all but
eliminated the need to “tune” a hard
bait, and he believes implementation
of computer chips may be on the
horizon.
“Say, for example, if gizzard
shad is the main forage, you
might be able to put a chip in
that bait to change its color
value based on water clarity
and modify its action accordingly,” he speculates.
Bruce Stanton of Pradco
expects more focus in coming
years on biodegradable baits
and line.
“Millennials are very
conscious of what they are
putting in the water,” he says.
“The same people buying electric cars and recycling are looking at their purchases and
keying on the products that
take good care of the planet.”
Stanton says manufacturers
will be looking at that in the
future, but he also points out
that “the bait still has to
perform and catch fish.”
Fisher fears we may come to a
collision between functionality
and technology that gets close
to being a gimmick.
36
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
The Bass Boat Of The Future
There were visions of grandeur when anglers
were asked what bass boats might look like 30
years in the future. Anglers believed that, by
now, we’d have seats that retracted into the
hull, solar panels to keep batteries charged,
refrigerated livewells, a data console that
would be integrated into a fishing helmet with
digital displays, and an outboard that would fit
under the back deck.
Needless to say, these predictions missed
the mark.
“Functionality and angler skill is
what catches fish, but if we get to where
we have to load a battery in a bait to do
the work for us, have we taken the
slingshot out of the pocket and lost
sight of the anticipation of figuring out
and catching fish?” he asks.
Fishing Techniques
In 1992, Rick Clunn was asked about
angler skill levels. He said on a scale of
1 to 10, Bassmaster Elite Series anglers
were about a 6, but he predicted it
could rise to an 8 once anglers became
more versatile and mentally tuned in to
their quarry’s habits and habitat.
Clunn believes that’s exactly what
has happened. “We still have about 12
guys who can dominate, and a large
midlevel, but there isn’t a bottom level
like there once was. Angling skill is
much stronger today.”
Techniques are more diverse, which
Clunn credits to the West Coast anglers
who brought a new approach to fishing
with detailed finesse tactics, swimbaits
and advanced flipping tactics.
“They came from a big-bass mentality of throwing big swimbaits and
patiently targeting big fish and a couple
of giant bites,” he says. “You can no
longer fish for 20 bites and expect to
win on the Elite Series.”
Most experts believe technology will
lead us to the next new techniques. It’s
already had an impact on where and
how anglers fish.
“Kevin VanDam and I have had the
ability to convert a random cast into a
nonrandom cast and minimize the
amount of random casts
that don’t provide us with
data,” says Clunn. “But
with electronics that
show what’s beneath the
water around the boat,
the machine now does
that for you.”
Boats And Motors
Pundits predict the future
of bass boats will include
super-lightweight
outboards with incredible
power, thrusters to assist
in boat position and
suspension like in highend sports cars.
When B.A.S.S. upped
the horsepower rating to
250 for tournament boats
in 1997, it changed the
course of bass boating.
Boats and outboard
motors got bigger and
more efficient for
handling big water.
Since then, we’ve seen
a rapid influx of 4-stroke
engines on bass rigs, a
trend that continues to
grow.
Presently, Mercury’s
two-stage Direct Fuel
Injection OptiMax (DFI)
Pro XS remains the most
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Prognostications
of the
Bassmen
popular in 2-stroke technology
but more and more bass rigs are
going to 4-strokes.
“We see a shift in the future
to 4-strokes,” said Lee Gordon
of Mercury, who notes lighterweight 4-strokes with stronger
acceleration and high top speeds
continue to turn heads.
Ben Speciale of Yamaha
Outboards says we will see a
much improved power plant
that may have lower units with
multispeed gear ratios and an
electronic control to adjust prop
pitch.
“There may be new ways to
control boat position with quiet
thrusters that guide the boat while
fishing,” Speciale notes. “You may be
able to control them with sensors
built into sunglasses or digital vision
screens that read your eyes. And
wouldn’t it be great to have a bass
boat with suspension control systems
like you find on high-end sports
cars?”
Phoenix Boats President Gary
Clouse says he wouldn’t be surprised
to see electric propulsion come into
play over the next 25 years.
“A lot depends upon what the
battery technology does in the
coming years,” he offers. “We’re
seeing electric cars now, and that
trend could eventually come down to
boats, as well.”
Elite pro Ott DeFoe would like to
see a fiberglass boat powered with an
outboard that can run in 6 inches of
water.
“I think we might see that in the
coming years,” he predicts.
Neither Clouse nor Jeff Woolridge
of Skeeter Boats expects bass boats’
overall length to grow. However, both
acknowledge the challenge facing
boat manufacturers accommodating
today’s add-on equipment and how it
affects the overall weight and performance of boats.
Shallow-water anchoring systems,
introduced a few years ago, bigger
batteries to power multiple large fishing electronics and powerful trolling
motors add weight and electric power
demands.
38
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
Predictions for electronics
include hologram displays for
sonar units and sensors built
into sunglasses to assist in
trolling motor control.
“Despite all of the technological
advancements, we haven’t seen much
change in batteries for 100 years,” says
Brad Henry of Minn Kota. “Lithium
batteries have grown, but the price will
have to come down. Hopefully, we will
see one battery that only weighs 50
pounds to cover all needs.”
Trolling motors integrated with
GPS, such as the Minn Kota Ultrex
with i-Pilot and the MotorGuide Xi5,
will become the norm within only a
few years. And while Minn Kota is the
only company to offer a cable-steered
trolling motor with those enhanced
features, look for others to enter the
market. In addition, elec tronicsteered motors will become more
user-friendly and embraced by the
bass world.
Trolling Motor Advancements
When asked how trolling motors might
change, respondents to the 1987 survey
imagined programmable electric motors
that would be able to run for weeks on a
single battery that weighs less than 5
pounds. One pundit thought you’d be able
to steer trolling motors just by changing
the position of your head.
Although these concepts did not come
to fruition, new technology does link the
motors with a satellite in outer space
(think spot lock), and they are programmable. Because battery technology and
motor control are not close to the guesses
made 30 years ago, we have to grade
these predictions with a thumbs down.
Many futuristic looks in boats may
come from the auto industry, where
creature comforts have become popular, says Woolridge.
“We may see heated and vibrating
boat seats,” he says. “We may have
trolling motors that come out of the
hull and recess back when not in use. I
envision a console design that pops
out of the deck when you need to drive
the boat and recedes into the floor to
provide a bigger fishing platform.”
Electronics
Nothing has impacted bass fishing
more than multipurpose fishing
graphs, a trend that likely will
continue. Nearly all bass experts
believe you will see more integration
of boating accessories that can be
controlled at a graph’s screen or some
other type of head unit.
Power-Pole’s recent introduction of
the Vision Digital Dash could be a
forerunner of things to come. Vision
networks boat accessories could lead
to anglers accessing email, the internet and fishing apps with a Bluetooth
connection to a smartphone.
“You will have total control of
everything in the boat, right at the
dash,” says Robert Shamblin of
Power-Pole.
Some high-end fishing electronics
already offer Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
capabilities, where you can control
trolling motors and anchoring
systems on the graph screen.
“You won’t need a gauge or toggle
switches on the dash,” predicts Daren
Cole of Lowrance. “One day you will
be able to watch your underwater
camera on the graph. If something
goes wrong with your graph, you
might be able to connect to a
customer service representative and
have him troubleshoot the problem
from afar.”
Cole says the day will come when
you can monitor the charging of your
batteries from your motel room
through a smartphone app.
Some of that technology is already
out there, say the experts, and once
the cost comes down, it will be implemented into the boats.
Sonar detail will continue to
improve, despite the major enhancements seen in recent years, says Mark
Gibson of Humminbird.
“You likely will see more sonar
beams scanning the water, providing
even higher resolution,” he explains.
“You not only will be able to get a
better image of fish, but know exactly
what they are.”
Gibson adds that GPS mapping,
already light years ahead of what was
offered 10 years ago, will get even
better and provide more pinpoint
accuracy.
Cole says it might become possible
to have underwater radar tapped into
your graph.
“
The time will come when selected
viewers can talk to pros during
actual competition.”
—Mike McKinnis
“You could target a school of fish
and follow them on your electronics
screen,” he adds.
Competitive Fishing
Bass tournaments are alive and well,
fueled by an influx of new high school
and collegiate anglers who are finding
pathways to the professional level.
Meanwhile, nothing has impacted
pro bass fishing more or fostered
more interest than TV, specifically
live coverage of Bassmaster Elite
Series events.
Today, the field of 100 or more
fishes two days, then cuts to 50 on
Saturday and 12 on Sunday to accommodate taped TV viewing on ESPN2
and Bassmaster LIVE coverage on the
internet.
LIVE, which puts cameras in the
boats and streams instant action
during the final three days of a tournament, has grown remarkably in
recent years.
Producer Mike McKinnis of JM
Associates says viewership grew 20
The Fan Experience
Pundits of the ‘80s and ‘90s guessed what the bass fishing fan could look
forward to in the future. The prediction for the 21st century was a very small field of
pro anglers (four to six), fishing on small bodies of water surrounded by bleachers.
Camera crews would be on boats filming live action for television. Lakes would be
built specifically for these tournaments, much like a race car track.
Well, the prediction made sense at
the time because there was no internet. The Elite Series fields have not
been reduced to six anglers, but did
go down to 100. Lakes have not been
built specifically for tournaments. And
television is not what is bringing live
video from the water to the fans.
Instead, Bassmaster LIVE streams
video to fans via phone and computer.
Although the pundits didn’t quite hit
the mark, they certainly had the right
ideas. So, thumbs up!
percent after the first year (2015) and
as much as 50 percent in 2017. Look
for that trend to continue as technology improves.
McKinnis says the future will bring
about more cameras on the boats and
could lead to in-boat marshals
Skyping live action from other participants who make big moves up the
standings.
“The time will come when selected
viewers can talk to pros during actual
competition,” he says.
Furthermore, McKinnis can see a
time when a virtual reality camera
will be positioned in the middle of the
boat and the viewer can direct where
he wants to look around the boat in a
live format.
Bassmaster Tournament Director
Trip Weldon predicts a competitor
could watch live coverage on his fishing electronics and see what other
competitors are doing.
“I suspect some competitors
wouldn’t want that, but I think it
could happen,” said Weldon.
Weldon speculates we may see a
hybrid tournament format in the next
25 years that will include “catchrelease-and-record” (the weights) by
the marshals, with the pro taking his
largest fish to the scales for weigh-in
spectators to see.
DeFoe agrees.
“I think there will be more paper
tournaments that put less stress on
the fish and eliminate the angler’s
worry of keeping his fish alive,” he
says.
While there has been internet chatter about smaller Elite fields,
McKinnis disagrees.
“I think 100 is a good number,
because it gives young college kids
and amateur anglers something to
reach for,” he says. “If you cut the
field too small, you’re making the
sport more difficult to get into at
that level.”
June 2018 BASSMASTER
| 39
Clunn
Looks
Back
By STEVE PRICE
SENIOR WRITER
Rick Clunn, whom many refer to as the “Zen Master,”
has fished more Bassmaster tournaments
than any man alive.
As he reflects on the most
storied career in bass fishing,
his mindful approach
to the sport continues
to evolve
F
FOR THOSE WHO were there, and perhaps for some who
read about it afterward, the 1990 Bassmaster Classic on the
James River is still remembered as Rick Clunn’s fourth
Classic victory, with a lure he designed specifically for both
the tournament and the river. Nearly 10 pounds behind
leader Tommy Biffle at the beginning of the final morning of
competition, Clunn boated more than 18 pounds that day
and won by more than 7 pounds.
The untold story of that Classic occurred on the second
day, when Clunn’s press partner was a Chicago-based writer
who barely said a word to him the entire time they were on
(Continued)
the water. Instead, he simply took notes.
Rick Clunn has fished 441 B.A.S.S. tournaments, has appeared in 32 Bassmaster Classics and has 122 Top 10 finishes, including four Classic
wins and 15 other first-place trophies.
40
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
Photo: Seigo Saito
Clunn
Looks
Back
On the drive back to Richmond, the
writer did start talking. He was actually a
statistician who covered the Chicago
Cubs, and he had recorded every one of
the 2,343 casts Clunn had made that day.
Of those casts, Clunn had 25 strikes and
caught 24 fish.
“I had never heard numbers like that
before,” remembers Clunn, “and initially, it
sounded like I’d had an incredible day of
fishing, catching 24 bass. Then it hit me. I
was making nearly 100 casts per bite, and that’s a
pretty poor percentage. I was throwing to cypress trees
on virtually every cast, so I was not making purely
random casts. I knew fish were using those trees.
“I kept thinking about this, about how to improve
my percentage of nonrandom versus random casts,
and the next day I probably had the finest fishing
day I’ve ever had on the water, execution-wise. I’ve
had a lot of days where I had maybe two hours
during a day that were perfect, but never a full day
like the final day of that Classic.
“In my fishing today, more than 25 years later,
those numbers the writer told me about are still on
my mind. I wonder how many casts we make to
places where there aren’t even any fish, and I have
worked even harder, trying to improve those
percentages in my fishing.”
Clunn’s memory bank is filled with lessons like
these, not at all surprising from the fisherman many
consider to be the greatest bass angler of all time.
Clunn fished his first B.A.S.S. event, the Texas
Invitational on Sam Rayburn, in March 1974, and
today at age 72, he is the oldest Bassmaster Elite
Series competitor. Now, he has competed in more
than 400 bass tournaments from Texas to Florida,
New York to California. The boyish, almost innocent features so noticeable in his mid- to late 20s
have been replaced by a short, trying-to-turn-gray
beard and occasional glasses, but overall, he’s still
slim, sharp and, at times, surprised at the influence
he has had on the sport.
Words and statistics do not adequately describe
his career; more than any other angler, Clunn has
symbolized and defined the sport of competitive
bass fishing around the world for more than four
“
I kept thinking about this,
about how to improve my
percentage of nonrandom
versus random casts.”
42
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
Clunn doesn’t remember the victories as much as he does the
lessons learned from each tournament.
decades, and no one can guess how many youngsters he has influenced to start bass fishing or
become tournament anglers.
Because statistics are important, however, here
are a few: In B.A.S.S. competition, he has 15 victories, including four Bassmaster Classic wins. He also
has two second-place finishes, one third and three
fourths — a total of 15 Top-10 finishes in 32 Classic
appearances. In 1988, he won the Bassmaster Angler
of the Year title. While competing on the FLW
circuit, he won three FLW Tour events, finished in
the Top 10 a total of 20 times and competed in six
Forrest Wood Cups. He was the first angler to win
the U. S. Open twice, and before there was an FLW,
he won the 1983 Red Man All-American.
He has always been a student of bass fishing. It
began with his earliest experiences walking behind
his father, Holmes Clunn, as they waded and fished
Oklahoma streams, and continues to this day.
Looking back, he attributes much of his success to
that intense passion for the sport and his ongoing
desire for knowledge.
“My first thoughts of becoming a bass pro came
during my time with the Pasadena [Texas] Bass
Club,” he says. “But I probably really started thinking seriously about it right after Bobby Murray won
the first Bassmaster Classic, in 1971. I read about it
in Bassmaster Magazine, and when he was handed
that check for $10,000, it struck me as a pretty fun
way to make a living.
“I was working for Exxon then, in a job where I
was just making ends meet from month to month.
Most people around me were doing the same. What I
really wanted to do was something that I loved to
do, so I resigned to become a fisherman. When I
started, I was only fishing 15 to 20 events a year,
which left more than 30 weeks when I didn’t have
anything to do.
“That’s when I started guiding on Lake Conroe. It
brought in money but it also started me on an
incredible learning curve for techniques and
allowed me to stay in shape physically and mentally
(continued)
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Clunn
Looks
Back
“
Execution
is the
difference
between
winning
and losing
in many
events.”
for the tournaments. I kept guiding
for just under 15 years.”
Clunn needed his guiding business, because his tournament
winnings during his first season
totaled just $1,200. In that first
B.A.S.S. event in 1974 on Sam
Rayburn, he finished 24th and won
$275. More than the fishing, he
remembers being intimidated by
some of the other already wellknown pros who were also competing, especially Bill Dance, Roland
Martin and Ricky Green, who won
the event.
Still, Clunn used the event as a
learning experience, watching and
studying the anglers around him. Green was the first
fisherman Clunn had ever seen who fished standing
rather than sitting, so he started doing it himself.
Jimmy Houston made easy underhand-style casts, so
Clunn learned how to do them, as well.
He qualified for both the 1974 and ’75 Classics but
did not do well in either one, and by 1976, he was, in his
own words, “pretty much at the end of the rope.” If he
didn’t do well in the 1976 Classic, he didn’t know if he
could continue in the sport. He started studying past
Classics, almost from a scientific angle, to see what he
could learn, to determine what he was missing.
“That study was like an epiphany,” says Clunn.
“What I found was that all the Classics to that point
had been held in October, all were on man-made
lakes, except for Currituck Sound in 1975. Even more
importantly, all had been won in the same places
with the same lure — in tributary creeks with
spinnerbaits.
“So, even though the 1976 Classic was still on a
‘mystery lake,’ I decided that regardless of where it
was held, I was going to go fish a creek with a spinnerbait. That’s what I did, and I won.”
There’s a little more to it than that, of course. The
1976 Classic was held on Lake Guntersville, and early
on the second morning, Clunn caught four bass
weighing nearly 25 pounds with his spinnerbait in
less than 10 minutes. All competitors’ boats had CB
radios then, and press observers reported their pro’s
catches each hour for all to hear. When Clunn’s
25-pound catch was announced, the stunned silence
on the CBs was clearly noticeable. Fellow competitor
Bo Dowden said later he almost threw his rod into the
lake in disbelief and frustration. Clunn went on to
win with 59 pounds, 15 ounces, the heaviest winning
weight for a Classic up to that time. That is when the
Clunn legend began.
“That win gave me tremendous confidence because
to me, it showed that the concept of seasonal bass
movement patterns really was valid,” emphasizes
Clunn, “and I feel like it gave me a big advantage. I
fished every tournament the rest of the year just like
44
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
it was the Bassmaster Classic,
adding to my own understanding
of bass patterns. The following
April, I won the B.A.S.S. Champs
tournament on Percy Priest
Reservoir, and that October I won
the Classic a second time down on
Lake Toho in Florida.”
The Clunn legend could have
easily become derailed at Toho,
especially since on the first morning he got lost in the fog and
couldn’t find the lock leading
down to Lake Kissimmee, where
he had planned to fish. He got mad
and just decided to fish the next
weedline he came to.
“I picked up a buzzbait, and on about my third or
fourth cast I caught a 7-pounder,” remembers Clunn.
“I still had my confidence, but at Toho, I didn’t have
the knowledge to back up that confidence.
Everything I’d been doing that related to seasonal
patterns went out the window, but that 7-pounder
gave me a place to fish, and that’s where I spent the
rest of the tournament. On the last day, I only had two
strikes and I caught both fish. One was too small to
keep, but the other was larger, and that’s the fish that
won for me. To be absolutely honest, I got lucky in
that tournament, but winning still gave me even
more confidence.”
Clunn’s runner-up finish in the 1978 Classic at Ross
Barnett is largely overlooked in light of Bobby
Murray’s victory there, but late the final afternoon,
Clunn hooked the bass that would have won that
Classic for him.
“Yes, I do still think about the ‘what-ifs,’ if I had
landed that fish,” he admits. “To me, there is no doubt
it would have won the tournament, because I didn’t
bring in a full limit that last day. The way I lost the
fish is what hurts, because normally, I don’t lose more
than a handful of fish the entire year, and I had this
fish hooked well.
“The bass hit in lily pads and immediately wrapped
two or three times around a stem, so I had to go into
the pads to get it. I got to the fish and was just ready
to kneel down to grab it when it came off. Execution
is the difference between winning and losing in many
events. I had generated the bites to win but I failed to
execute.”
At a tournament at Lake Gaston, Clunn had another
dramatic experience that has also shaped his fishing
ever since, the day he was paired with Fred Young,
the maker of the legendary Big O crankbait. He knew
of Young and the Big O but did not have access to any
of them, so Young gave him two to use.
“I wasn’t having a very good tournament, and that
afternoon, out of courtesy to him, I tied on one of his
crankbaits and started casting it,” Clunn recalls.
“Fred was sitting down in the back, and after
watching me a few minutes, he said, ‘Son, let me
show you how to fish that lure.’
“He made a cast,” Clunn continues, “then started
turning the reel handle faster than anyone I’d ever
seen before. He made two or three casts, then gave it
back to me. ‘You never stop it,’ he said, ‘unless you
hit something. When you do hit something, pause it,
then you burn it again. Some will hit it slow, but if
you burn it, they’ll try to swallow it.’
“At first, I wasn’t sure whether to believe him, but
everything he said was absolutely true. Later, I won
the Missouri Invitational on Lake Truman, an FLW
event on Beaver Lake, and came close many other
times, doing exactly what he taught me. I had
started my crankbait fishing in the bass club with a
Hellbender and felt pretty confident with it, but Fred
Young opened a whole new world for me that day,
and I still follow his advice.”
Clunn used crankbaits to win one of the most
memorable tournaments in his career, the 1984
Bassmaster Classic on the Arkansas River, where he
brought in 75 pounds, 9 ounces, and won by more
than 25 pounds. His father was gravely ill during
that time, and Clunn thought very seriously about
withdrawing in order to be by his father’s side.
Fortunately for everyone involved, and especially
for the sport itself, he stayed to compete and gave
everyone a tournament no one can forget.
Not too surprisingly, another of his most memorable wins, to himself as well as to his legions of fans,
came in the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series tournament
on the St. Johns River. In that event, he caught a
4-pound bass near the end of the second day that
pushed him inside the cut-off for the third day, when
he brought in a monstrous 31-7 haul that jumped him
into the lead. A California angler who became a tournament pro because of Clunn’s influence, Skeet Reese,
helped him carry his fish to the weigh-in stand. Clunn
finished with a four-day total of 81-15; at the time, he
was just four months short of his 70th birthday.
“That’s one reason I love fishing so much,” he
explained afterward. “I don’t have to be able to run
a 100-yard dash in under 10 seconds, and I don’t
have to be able to jump high enough to dunk a
basketball. In fishing, all you have to have is
passion. I have always believed you can fish at a
high level even when you’re older, and the St. Johns
win validated that, and that 31-7 was the third-best
catch I’ve ever weighed in.”
On a slightly different note, Clunn admits the field
cuts have affected his career as much as anything
over the years. The first cut after two days eliminates
any possibility of recovering after one bad or even
mediocre day. Had he not caught that single
4-pounder near the end of the second day on the St.
Johns, Clunn never would have had the chance to
catch the huge stringer the next day and go on to win.
That brings Clunn back to his never-ending quest
to improve his percentage of nonrandom casts. The
way you beat others, he says, is by
By winning the St. Johns
Elite event in 2016, Clunn
converting as many random casts into
became the oldest angler
nonrandom casts as possible, which he
ever to win a title (he was
was able to do at the St. Johns.
four months shy of 70).
“Most anglers don’t ever think about
Photo: Seigo Saito
this,” he says, “but to do it, your awareness on the water has to be fine-tuned.
You have to develop the discipline to remove the
random casts and learn to focus more closely on
where bass are most likely to be. I’ve made my career
by fishing fast, simply making more casts during the
day than my competitors. Kevin VanDam has fished
the same way, and also with a lot of success.
“But today’s electronic technology is changing all
this and making fishermen more efficient. Sonar
units now show a picture that completely surrounds
the boat and pinpoints not just potential cover bass
could be using, but sometimes the fish themselves.
Younger anglers are embracing this new technology
faster than us older ones who learned the basics on
simple flashers. They may make only 500 casts all
day, but 400 of those casts are to specific targets or
even to fish, so they’re not random casts at all.”
This has forced Clunn over the past several years
to gradually give up the original Rick Clunn. He
knows his old system of making more casts than
anyone else doesn’t work anymore. This transition
has not been easy, and it has created tremendous
inconsistencies in his fishing results.
“I’m re-learning things,” he says, “even to the
point of using lures I’ve never seriously considered
using before. I don’t go out in practice and try to get
20 bites anymore. Today there are tournaments on
some lakes where you need to think about a
4-pound average, and to catch that quality of fish,
I’ve had to learn to slow down. I’ve learned to use
certain big bass lures like swimbaits, and I’m
having some success with that.
“I’m also learning about today’s depthfinders and
electronics, too, but that will be a slower process.”
There are some who have planned their place in
history, but Clunn has never been one of them. Now
in his 44th year of competition, he is still fueled by
his passion for the sport and his desire to learn more
about the fish he’s trying to catch, and that part
won’t ever change.
June 2018 BASSMASTER
| 45
Day On The Lake
Skylar Hamilton
[Postspawn]
By DON WIRTH
SENIOR WRITER
Hamilton battles the
fog, and a fish, first
thing in the morning on
Lake R. Photo: Don Wirth
DOTL Challenge: Put a Bassmaster
pro on a small lake he’s never seen
before. Give him seven hours to
locate and catch bass while we log
his every move.
I
Date: June 6, 2017
Venue: Lake R, a flatland reservoir
Water: 80 to 85 degrees, stained
Weather: Foggy to sunny, 70 to 80
degrees
Pro: Skylar Hamilton, 22,
Dandridge, Tenn. An
Elite Series pro,
Hamilton qualified for
the 2017 Bassmaster
Classic (where he won Day
2 big fish honors with a 9-pound,
1-ounce largemouth) via the Central
Division.
IF YOU’RE A longtime Bassmaster reader, you probably remember “Harry ’n’ Charlie,” my humor series
that followed the misadventures of two redneck bass
addicts from Swamp Gas Corners, U.S.A. Whether they
were journeying up yonder to Snail Hollow Lake in
search of a record smalljaw or chasing after that
monster largemouth Ol’ Iron Jaw on Belly Button
Bayou back home, H & C would always be found in
their trusty aluminum johnboat, Ol’ Stump Jumper.
“There’s only three things a real bassin’ man needs,”
Harry reasoned: “A hawg stick, a can o’ Viennies and a
Boat: Xpress X-21 (aluminum) with a
good ol’ tin boat.” Tennessee pro Skylar Hamilton’s not
250-horsepower Yamaha outboard,
fond of Vienna sausages, but he agrees with Harry 100
Minn Kota trolling motor, Raymarine
percent about boats — he’s one of only two dudes on
electronics and twin Power-Pole shalthe Elite Series running an aluminum bass rig. “An
low-water anchors.
aluminum boat fits the way I like to fish,” he says. “Its
hull is tough as boilerplate, so I can slip into shallow/
rocky/stumpy places that would tear up a fiberglass rig. I guess you could say my
boat is like me: It’s not fancy, but it gets the job one.” As Hamilton is about to prove
on Lake R, a skilled angler, a tin boat and skinny water can indeed be a potent
(continued)
combination.
46
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
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Day On The Lake
Skylar Hamilton
7 HOURS LEFT
Z 6:42 a.m. Hamilton
and I arrive at Lake R,
which is shrouded in
dense fog. He pulls an
assortment of Duckett
rods and reels from storage. “I’m hoping to
score some good fish on
topwater before the fog
lifts,” he says.
Z 7 a.m. We launch the
Xpress. Hamilton checks
the lake temp: 80
degrees. “The water
looks stained, but it’s
not muddy, so I should
be able to fish a variety
of lures. Most of the
bass have probably
already spawned, but
there should still be
plenty of fish up shallow. I’m going to run uplake for starters and fish my
way back down if I have to. Big bass prey on spawning bluegill this time of year, so I’ll look for bream
beds in the shallows.”
Z 7:10 a.m. Hamilton threads his way uplake
through the fog to the edge of a long, shallow flat.
He makes his first cast with a white and chartreuse
River2Sea Whopper Plopper 130 surface lure, a
“supernoisy bait that’s perfect for these low-light
conditions.” He retrieves the big lure slowly and
steadily across a shallow sand point.
Z 7:12 a.m. A good fish plasters the Whopper
Plopper on Hamilton’s second cast to the point! He
works it toward the boat and swings aboard his first
bass of the day, a 2-pound, 10-ounce largemouth.
“That was awesome! There’s no cover on that little
point that I can see; it’s just a bare patch of sand.”
Z 7:13 a.m. A light northerly breeze is pushing more
fog into Lake R’s upper end. Hamilton switches to a
bluegill colored Brian’s surface lure; it has a feathered tail, a propeller and a dished-out mouth. “This
balsa bait pops like a feeding bluegill, and you can
That was awesome! There’s no
cover on that little point that I
can see; it’s just a bare patch
of sand.”
“
48
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
7:32 a.m. Hamilton’s second
keeper, 2-12, smashed his
surface popper on a shallow
stump. Photo: Don Wirth
dog-walk it. I’ve caught
some whales on it
during postspawn.” He
casts the popper across
the point.
Z 7:15 a.m. Hamilton
switches to a green
Jackall Iobee Frog and
skips it beneath overhanging bushes. “I’m
seeing [crater-like] bluegill beds all around the
bank. There should be
some bass hanging
around them.”
Z 7:22 a.m. Back to the
Whopper Plopper. He’s
fishing the noisy plug on
braided line with a softtipped cranking rod. “The light tip gives the fish
that critical extra second to inhale the lure before
you can react with a hook set.”
Z 7:30 a.m. Hamilton switches to the Brian’s popper.
“I’m still stoked about catching that fish on my
second cast!”
Z 7:32 a.m. Hamilton spots a stump just beneath the
surface and casts the popper to the cover, and a bass
smashes it! The fish races off the stump, then stops.
“He’s got my line wrapped around something,”
Hamilton says. “I haven’t got braid on this reel, so
I’ve got to ease him out of that cover.” He maneuvers
his boat to the opposite side of the unseen obstruction, and the fish swims free. Hamilton patiently
works the bass closer and grabs his second keeper of
the day, 2 pounds, 12 ounces. “Whew! He shot off of
one stump straight into another one! I had to be
really careful with him in case my line was nicked
up.”
Z 7:41 a.m. Hamilton is slowly fishing his way along
the shallow flat, alternating between the Whopper
Plopper, popper and frog. A good fish slurps the frog
under but doesn’t hook up. “There are stumps
peppered all over this flat. Great bass cover!”
Z 7:43 a.m. Hamilton pitches a green pumpkin
pepper Jackall Archelon creature rigged on a 5/0
Hayabusa flipping hook with a 1/4-ounce Jackall
tungsten sinker to the stump where he missed the
bass.
Z 7:47 a.m. Back to the popper. He hangs it in some
overhanging brush and retrieves it. “It’s foggier now
than when we started!”
Z 7:56 a.m. Still proceeding along the flat with the
(continued)
three surface baits and the creature.
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Day On The Lake
Skylar Hamilton
6 HOURS LEFT
Z 8:09 a.m. The shoreline turns
inward to form a large pocket littered
with stumps — ideal targets for
Hamilton’s topwater arsenal.
Z 8:16 a.m. Hamilton chunks the
Plopper beneath an overhanging
bush. A big fish boils on it but doesn’t
hook up. He immediately reels in and
pitches the popper to the same spot
but can’t coax a replay.
Z 8:18 a.m. Hamilton lobs a jointed
Jackall Giron bluegill swimbait
beneath the overhang and jerks it
erratically. Still no takers.
Z 8:24 a.m. Both the Plopper and
Archelon fail to elicit a strike on a big
blowdown.
Z 8:30 a.m. Hamilton switches
Whopper Plopper colors to black and
white. “Hopefully, they can see this
one better in the fog.”
Z 8:33 a.m. Hamilton isn’t thrilled
with the sound of the black Plopper.
“Every one of these baits sounds
different. The white one makes a
deeper plopping sound; this one is
higher pitched.”
Z 8:40 a.m. A bluegill pecks the
popper in another shallow pocket.
“He probably thinks it’s his
girlfriend!”
Z 8:44 a.m. Hamilton flips the
Archelon into the branches of a
blown-down tree, slams back his
rod and swings a big bass into his
boat! His third keeper weighs 4
pounds, 4 ounces. “That tree looks
like it just recently snapped off and
fell into the water. Never pass up a
fresh blowdown; green leaves
provide a lot more overhead cover
than bare branches.”
Z 8:45 a.m. Hamilton pulls out
another flipping rod; its reel is
spooled with heavy braided line.
“I’m [going to] rig another creature
on this rod with a 1-ounce sinker so
it’ll drop straight down through the
thicker leaves and branches.”
Z 8:52 a.m. Hamilton flips the
1-ounce creature rig to another tree
branch, detects a tap, swings and
misses.
Z 8:56 a.m. Hamilton enters a short
tributary arm and casts the popper
around laydown wood.
5 HOURS LEFT
Z 9 a.m. He’s moving slowly along
the tributary’s shoreline, alternating between the popper, frog and
creature. “There’s a little channel
running along this bank. Bass
should use it to travel in and out of
this creek arm.”
Z 9:13 a.m. The fog has dissipated
as Hamilton continues working
shallow cover. “I’m seeing bluegill
beds everywhere, but so far, no
bass.”
Z 9:17 a.m. Hamilton pitches the
popper beneath an overhanging
branch. A 3-pound bass rushes it
but doesn’t strike. He immediately
pitches the frog to the fish, but it’s
disappeared. “I don’t see a bass bed
there. I bet it was waiting under that
overhang to ambush a bluegill.”
50
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
Z 9:19 a.m. The bass moves back
beneath the overhang. Hamilton
pitches the Giron bluegill mimic to
the fish and cranks it slowly, and the
bass follows the lure to the boat. “Go
on, hit it!”
Z 9:22 a.m. He pitches the creature to
the fish, but it’s not interested.
Z 9:26 a.m. The bass wanders off, and
Hamilton continues up the creek arm
with the popper, frog and creature.
Z 9:31 a.m. Hamilton spots a big fish
cruising out of a submerged tree
branch. He drops to his knees and
pitches the creature to the cover but
(Above) Hamilton found an abundance of
wood cover on Lake R, not all of which
held bass. (right) 12:57 p.m. Hamilton’s
fifth keeper, 3-14, smoked his bladed jig
in the lake’s headwaters. Photos: Don Wirth
hauls water. “That was a 5-pounder!”
He backs off the cover, lowers his
Power-Poles and waits a few minutes
for the bass to reappear, but it doesn’t.
Z 9:44 a.m. A foot-long gizzard shad
races just beneath the surface in front
of Hamilton’s boat. “I’d like to catch
the bass that scared that shad! I’m
seeing a lot of smaller baitfish on my
graph, too. Shallow, murky reservoirs, especially ones that don’t have
current like this one, often have low
oxygen in their deeper areas once the
water gets warm, so most of the baitfish and bass will stay surprisingly
shallow. I’m going to check some
deeper areas, but I’ve had three good
(continued)
fish up shallow so far.”
Day On The Lake
Skylar Hamilton
Z 9:48 a.m. Hamilton works the frog
around a boathouse in the rear of the
tributary. “I’m amazed I haven’t had
a fish on that frog yet.”
Z 9:55 a.m. Hamilton plops, pops and
pitches his way out of the tributary
along the opposite shoreline without
scoring a bite. He pauses to tie on a
bluegill colored 1/2-ounce Buckeye
G-Man Ballin’ Out jig with a green
pumpkin pepper Jackall craw trailer.
“Gerald Swindle designed this jig; it’s
got a ball head for skipping under
docks.” He rigs another stick with a
blueback shad Strike King 5XD diving
crankbait.
4 HOURS LEFT
Z 10 a.m. Hamilton makes a highspeed run to a long main-lake point.
He idles around the structure,
surveying it with his electronics,
then cranks it with the 5XD.
Z 10:12 a.m. He hangs the crankbait
in a deep snag, breaks it off and
doesn’t bother to retie. “I didn’t see
much activity on that structure.
[Pointing] I’m going to hit that bank
over there while it’s still got some
shade on it.”
Z 10:31 a.m. A quick pass down the
shady, stump-filled bank with topwaters and the creature fails to yield a
strike. What’s Hamilton’s take on the
day so far? “Early morning was
awesome, especially the topwater
bite, but it’s slowed down now that
“
Never pass up a fresh blowdown;
green leaves provide a lot more
overhead cover than bare branches.”
the sun’s out. I’m keeping an open
mind about fishing offshore, but I’ll
probably spend most of my remaining time flipping blowdown trees and
hitting isolated wood on flats.”
Z 10:38 a.m. Hamilton moves straight
across the lake to flip several blowdowns with creatures and jigs.
Z 10:47 a.m. He ties on a black
5/8-ounce Buckeye Mop Jig with a
5-inch green pumpkin Jackall craw
trailer. “This jig has an extremely
long skirt; together with that big
trailer, it presents a bulky profile in
these dense branches.”
Z 10:54 a.m. Hamilton bags his
fourth keeper, 1 pound, 2 ounces.
“That’s the smallest bass I’ve ever
caught on a Mop Jig, but I’ll take it.”
3 HOURS LEFT
Z 11:03 a.m. Hamilton is picking
apart each tree he comes to with his
flipping arsenal. He hits the outer
branches with the 1/4-ounce creature
and uses the heavier, bulkier baits to
probe the thicker stuff.
Z 11:18 a.m. Hamilton moves into a
big main-lake cove and graphs up a
brush-covered ledge rising from 24 to
9 feet. He rigs a plum 10-inch Berkley
Power Worm with a 5/0 offset hook
and 3/8-ounce sinker and casts it to
the top of the snaggy structure. The
wind has shifted from the north to
the east.
Z 11:36 a.m. The ledge didn’t pan
out, so Hamilton runs to Lake R’s
dam, where he cranks riprap with a
blueback shad Jackall Aska 50
squarebill.
Z 11:49 a.m. No luck on the dam.
Hamilton moves to a nearby shallow
pocket where baitfish are flipping on
the surface and tries the popper and
frog.
2 HOURS LEFT
Z 12:03 p.m. Hamilton runs straight
across the lake to the entrance of a
short creek arm. Here he flips blowdowns with the 1/4-ounce creature.
Z 12:11 p.m. He presses deeper into
the creek, still flipping tree branches.
“This lake was definitely better when
it was foggy!”
Z 12:20 p.m. Hamilton moves to the
opposite bank, which is considerably
steeper, and hits more tree branches
with the creature.
Z 12:24 p.m. Hamilton has reached
the back end of the creek, which is
shallow and loaded with big stumps.
He scans the area looking for cruising
bass. “I bet they spawned back here,
but they’re gone now.”
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June 2018
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Z 12:29 p.m. Hamilton digs through
his topwater stash and pulls out a
battered Rico popper with a ragged
feather tail. “I call this plug Ol’
Reliable! It used to be gold, but the
paint’s been chewed off it.” He fires
the popper beneath an overhanging
tree and dog-walks it across several
stumps. “If there was one there, she
wouldn’t be able to stand it!”
Z 12:40 p.m. Hamilton has blasted
back uplake to the shallow flat where
he bagged his first three keepers. He’s
cranking a Tennessee shad Jackall
Aska 70, an upsized version of the
squarebill he cranked at the dam.
Z 12:46 p.m. Hamilton tries the black
Whopper Plopper on the sand point
where he caught his first keeper.
Z 12:49 p.m. He moves farther off the
bank and resumes cranking the Aska
70.
Z 12:56 p.m. Hamilton idles uplake
as far as he can go. Here, multiple
schools of immature baitfish are
popping on the surface, and his trolling motor is kicking up mud. He ties
on a 1/2-ounce white and purple
Jackall Break Blade bladed jig with a
white Zoom Speed Craw trailer and
retrieves it quickly through the
shallows.
Z 12:57 p.m. Hamilton casts the
bladed jig to a lone stickup and gets a
solid strike. His fifth keeper is a
chunky 3-14 largemouth. “Man, he
smoked it! Bass will sit on any little
piece of wood cover they can find in
the spot like this. I got my limit; now
I need to cull that pounder.”
1 HOUR LEFT
Z 1:01 p.m. Hamilton gets a jarring
strike on the Break Blade, but the
bass comes unbuttoned.
Z 1:03 p.m. Another bass bumps the
blade bait.
Z 1:08 p.m. Hamilton bags keeper
No. 6, 3-1, on the Break Blade; it culls
his 1-2. “That fish was only 6 inches
deep!”
Z 1:14 p.m. Another good fish knocks
the blade bait but doesn’t hook up.
Z 1:26 p.m. It’s clouding up again as
Hamilton fishes his way out toward
deeper water with the bladed jig.
Z 1:38 p.m. Back on the flat where he
started his day, a 3-pounder hits
Hamilton’s surface popper at boatside
but shakes free.
Z 1:46 p.m. Hamilton retrieves the
bladed jig parallel to a dock, then
pitches the creature to the structure.
Z 2 p.m. Back to the ramp. Hamilton
has had a successful day on Lake R.
He’s boated six keeper largemouth;
the five biggest weigh a solid 16
pounds, 9 ounces.
The Day in Perspective
“Every fish I caught was in Lake R’s
shallow upper end, either on a flat or in
a blowdown tree,” Hamilton told
Bassmaster. “The dense fog helped the
topwater bite early, then I had to flip
trees once the sun got high. Spotting
those baitfish schools tipped me off that
the highest oxygen levels were probably
in the shallows; I tried some offshore
spots, but none of them produced. If I
were to fish here tomorrow, I’d launch
at daybreak to maximize my topwater
window, then once the sun got high, I’d
pound shallow flats and the backs of
the creeks with the bladed jig and
flip blowdowns.”
Where And When Skylar
Hamilton Caught His Five
Biggest Bass
10 ounces; sand point
1 2onpounds,
shallow flat; white/chartreuse
River2Sea Whopper Plopper surface
bait; 7:12 a.m.
2 pounds, 12 ounces;
submerged stump on shallow
flat; bluegill Brian’s surface popper;
7:32 a.m.
4 pounds, 4 ounces; blowdown
tree; green pumpkin pepper
Jackall Archelon creature on 5/0 hook
with 1/4-ounce sinker; 8:44 a.m.
3 pounds, 14 ounces; shallow
isolated stickup in headwaters;
white/purple Jackall Break Blade
bladed jig with white Zoom Speed
Craw trailer, 12:57 p.m.
3 pounds, 1 ounce; same place
and lure as No. 4; 1:08 p.m.
TOTAL: 16 POUNDS, 9 OUNCES
2
3
4
5
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| 53
Where
Texas Rig
the
Still
Rocks
By BRUCE INGRAM
and Ned rigs getting all the
attention these days, many
anglers ignore the Texas rig.
Well, river gurus targeting
brown bass in the rocks
are bucking this trend
54
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
I
IN AN ESSAY last year, Dave Precht, editor-in-chief of
Bassmaster Magazine, pondered whether we should say
“Goodbye to the Texas rig?” A fair question, to be sure, for
America’s lake anglers. But, arguably, on this country’s
upland rivers, many guides feel the T-rig has never stopped
being important. Take, for example, Britt Stoudenmire of the
New River Outdoor Co.
“For soft jerkbaits, I find the Texas rig to be highly effective on smallmouth rivers as the rig allows current to carry a
bait more naturally through the water column with fewer
snags,” says the Virginia guide. “And for tubes and stickbaits, this rig gives a more natural drop, lift and roll action
(continued)
along the bottom.”
Photo: Laurie Tisdale
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Where
Texas Rig
Rocks
the
Still
Tommy Cundiff of River
Monster Guides Service touts
the rig as well.
“The best smallmouth rivers
have lots of weeds and rock
cover,” he says. “Nothing beats
the Texas rig in those
situations.”
And Ken Trail of Rock On
Charters praises the T-rig, too.
“A drop-shot rig is very
difficult to fish without
hanging up in rivers,” he
says. “And the Carolina rig
is almost as bad. Really,
the Texas rig is about your
only option, unless you’re
fishing around deep wood
in the spring.”
Texas Rigging
Tubes, Jerkbaits And Stickbaits
For tubes, Stoudenmire offers these
tips.
“I Texas rig tubes by inserting a
Water Gremlin bull-weight bulletshaped split shot into a tube’s belly
and then positioning a wide gap
worm hook,” he says. “That presentation is ideal from late spring
through early fall when you need a
tube to roll along the bottom of the
river with few hang-ups. A tube
rigged with a ball-head jig will not
give you that same rolling action
and will constantly attract floating
grass during low water and hang up
more, too.”
The guide employs 2 3/4-inch
Mizmo Teasers, 3 1/2-inch Small
Jaws or 4-inch Big Boys (paired with,
respectively, 1/0, 2/0 or 3/0
Gamakatsu extra-wide gap hooks)
through cobble bars and rocky eddies
and into deep-water ledges.
“From spring through fall, I also
Texas rig stickbaits like Yamamoto
Senkos with no weights and soft jerkbaits like Zoom Flukes mostly without weights,” continues Stoudenmire.
“I retrieve a stickbait by lifting it up
and letting it fall and flutter back
down as the bait drifts across the
bottom. Again, you can’t do that
effectively without the bait being
Texas rigged.”
For tubes, use either
an internal weight or
a bullet weight at the
nose, with the hook
Texas rigged.
Stickworms are good
both weightless and with a
small weight at the nose.
Photos: Bruce Ingram
Target areas like island points,
grassbeds and depth changes along
the main channel. The guide rigs a
Senko with a 3/0 Gamakatsu wide
gap hook.
For a soft-plastic jerkbait,
Stoudenmire employs a 4/0
Gamakatsu and likes to work these
soft plastics through the middle of
the water column because they excel
at enticing brown bass to charge up
from the bottom. Although strikes
are often violent, the Virginia guide
suggests that anglers not set the hook
immediately, but rather reel down to
the bait and then strike the fish with
a long, swinging hook set. He
believes smallmouth often first
attack a jerkbait from the rear to stun
it before repositioning it in their
mouths.
Texas-rigged jerkbaits come into
play when the water temperature
reaches 60 degrees and continue to
produce throughout the spring and
summer and well into the fall, until
water temps fall below 60 degrees.
Locales to concentrate on include
eddies, current breaks and shade
pockets along the bank. For all three
baits, the guide opts for 20-pound
Power Pro Braid with 8- to 10-foot
leaders of 12-pound-test Gamma Edge
(continued)
fluorocarbon.
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Where
Texas Rig
Rocks
the
Still
Texas Rigging Swimbaits And
Creatures
Tommy Cundiff relies on two
swimbaits: Berkley’s 4-inch Ripple
Shad, Texas rigged with a 4/0 Berkley
Fusion 19 Weighted Swimbait hook,
and Live Target’s Hollow Body
Sunfish, which comes pre-rigged,
Tex-posed style.
“With swimbaits rigged this way,
you can fish vegetation much more
thoroughly and not by just hitting the
surface or the outlying edges,” he
says. “As vegetation starts to emerge
in late spring to its gradual disappearance in late fall, I will use a swimbait
to target smallmouth holding in this
thick cover.
“Texas-rigged swimbaits are just as good
around fallen and
submerged trees. The
weighted rig allows me to
cast a swimbait into thick
cover and hold it there
longer than an
unweighted, nonweedless
swimbait that either
hangs up quickly or drifts
away with the current.”
Earlier in the spring,
the guide opts for the
4-inch Yamamoto
Kreature, Texas rigged
with a 3/0 wide gap hook
and a 1/8-ounce bullet
sinker.
“There’s no telling what
a smallmouth will want in
the prespawn except that
it will want a big mouthful of something,” he
says. “That’s why I go
with the Kreature then,
because it looks like a big
meal of something a fish
might eat. With the Texas
“
58
rig, I can churn this bait across the
surface, bounce it off a rocky bottom,
swim it through weeds or drag it
across downed trees. I can also hop it
across a hump or through an eddy.”
Worms And Lizards
Roanoke, Va., guide Ken Trail
favors Texas-rigged lizards and
worms.
“About 25 years ago, I started Texas
rigging 4-inch Zoom Lizards with 1/0
or 2/0 wide gap hooks and 1/8-ounce
bullet sinkers,” he says. “It was a
killer bait then and still is. I always
carry 10 packs or so of Zoom Lizards
in my boat.”
I think those summer storms are
the most likely times to have
salamanders wash into rivers.”
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
Trail tosses the bogus salamanders
upstream and “bumps” them along
with the current through eddies,
current breaks and the tail ends of
pools. He stresses that this rig should
never be allowed to “sit,” as a
constant lift-pause retrieve is best.
His favorite locales, though, are
main-channel dropoffs where
pronounced depth changes occur —
say from 4 to 6 feet. This is true structure fishing, he explains, and spring
is the ideal time to implement this
pattern.
Another great time to Texas rig a
lizard is after a summer thunderstorm or heavy rainfall.
“That’s when river smallmouth
will run up into the mouths of creeks
or hold along or within recently
submerged weedbeds,” says Trail. “I
think those summer storms are the
most likely times to have salamanders wash into rivers, and that’s why
lizards become so effective then.”
A 4-inch worm can be fished just
like the lizard at the same time and
places with the same T-rig and sliding
bullet sinker. But the bogus crawler
has a very specific application, as
well.
“When the first warm rains of
spring wash nightcrawlers into a
river, I’ll fish a plastic worm around
shoreline deadfalls and brushpiles,”
says Trail. “If the water is rising, this
pattern is especially effective as the
smallmouth go toward the banks
then.
“I’ll toss a Texas-rigged worm right
into the heart of downed trees and
drag it up and over a branch or limb,
then let the worm fall and start it up
again. Stay in contact with the wood
as much as you can, and you’ll have a
real chance at a trophy.”
In short, although the Texas rig may
have fallen out of favor on this country’s impoundments, in the rocky,
river realms where smallmouth dominate, the Texas rig still rocks. And its
continued reign seems as secure
as ever on America’s waterways.
Note: Bruce Ingram is the author of five
books on river smallmouth fishing (https://
sites.google.com/site/bruceingramoutdoors).
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Bass fishing’s
By Don Wirth SENIOR WRITER
Illustrations by Arturo Gonzalez Murga
fumbling duo
accept the coaching
position at Swamp
Gas Corners High.
What could
possibly go wrong?
60
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
ALL THE SWAMP Gas Corners Bass Clubbers was gathered at
the Drew Drop Inn, slurpin’ coffee ’n’ swappin’ insults. “Hey
fellers, check out my new HydroBlaster!” Crusty Popodopolous,
our mega-wealthy club president, said as he passed around the
boat photo on his cellphone.
“That rig’s got mo’ bells ’n’ whistles than a Mardi Gras float!”
Lefty LePieux chided.
“Big deal,” Harry snorted at the photo. “Me ’n’ Charlie fishes from
a leaky johnboat, and we always catches mo’ basses than you!”
“Fellers, I got big news!” Wilbur Wangle, Harry’s archrival,
announced. “I’m officially the new coach of the Onion City High
School bass fishin’ team!”
“What?!” Harry blurted, sprayin’ coffee ever’where. “Who
ever heard of a high school havin’ a bass fishin’ team?!” Po’
Harry was terminally clueless, havin’ spent most of his school
(continued)
days in the principal’s office.
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I’m Coach
Harry, ‘n’ this
here’s Coach
Charlie! Under
our expert
tutelage, y’all
is fixin’ to
become country
fried lunker
whackers!”
“
“Yep, their previous coach took the Onion City
team all the way to the state semifinals before resignin’ last year to join the Elite Series! They needed to
hire somebody equally qualified, so they called
me!”
“It’s a cryin’ shame Swamp Gas Corners High
ain’t got a bassin’ team,” opined Big Moe while
butterin’ another biscuit. “They’ve been strugglin’
to put one together, but cain’t find nobody to coach
‘em!”
“Even if they could find a coach, they’d be just
another notch in Onion City’s belt on our way to the
state champeenship!” Wilbur bragged.
“That #&% Wilbur makes my blood boil!” Harry
seethed as we exited the diner. Then suddenly he
had an inspiration: “Charlie, what if WE volunteered to coach the team?? With our vast lunkercatchin’ experience, we could whup them kids into
a bass-whackin’ crew good enuf to shatter Wilbur’s
state champeenship dream!”
“Dream on,” I laughed. “There ain’t no way any
learnin’ institution would hire us as janitors, let
alone coaches!”
Never say never, I reckon! Darned if Mr. Merkle,
the principal at SGCHS, didn’t jump at the chance to
sign me ’n’ Harry on to coach the Cottonmouths’
bassin’ team! “We’re thrilled that you’ll be teaching
these bright young students advanced angling skills
while passing along character-building lessons and
values they can use in later life!” he enthused.
“Mr. Principal, you can trust us to mold them
impressionable young’uns into bass-catchin’
machines!” I pledged. “And, like you said, to teach
62
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
‘em to be real characters … with values, lessons ’n’
stuff!”
“… and to crush their future opponents into oblivion, especially the Onion City Onions and that
slimeball coach of theirs, Wilbur Wangle!” Harry
added.
We met the team’s three members that afternoon
in the high school gym.
“Greetings, team!” Harry said. “I’m Coach Harry,
’n’ this here’s Coach Charlie! Under our expert tutelage, y’all is fixin’ to become country fried lunker
whackers! Now, how about y’all introducin’
yourselves?”
“I’m Angelina Tupple,” said the girl. “My favorite
subject is chemistry and I love to fish for bass! My
biggest one so far is 13 pounds.”
“Thirteen pounds!?!” Harry swallered. “I hereby
appoint you team captain! What’s your name, kid
with the bow tie?”
“Digby Worthington III, president of the Young
Investors Club,” said the preppy lad. “I recently
fished for barramundi in Australia with my uncle
and found the experience quite exhilarating!”
“Did you now?” Harry replied. “I dunno what a
barra-whatever is, but it cain’t be no meaner than a
big ol’ bass! And who might you be, sonny?”
“Dexter Brown, Coach! I run the computer lab,
and I love fishing in my granddad’s farm pond. It’s
loaded with big bass!”
“Team, is y’all ready to kick bass fo’ the glory of
Swamp Gas High?” I asked. Their cheers told us they
were, so we commenced to learnin’ these
(continued)
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impressionable young ’uns
the inside scoop on bass
behavior. “Our first lesson is,
lunker basses don’t get big by
bein’ stupid!” I began.
“That’s why you gotta fish
realistic baits, like rubber
frogs, plastic worms ’n’
such.”
“And swimbaits!” Digby
added, holdin’ up an exotic
$500 Japanese plug. “My
uncle purchased this example on his last business trip to Tokyo!”
“But Coach Charlie, isn’t it true that
in low-visibility conditions, a lure’s
realism isn’t nearly as important as
how much vibration it makes?”
Angelina piped up.
“She’s right, Coach!” Dexter agreed.
“I recently read a study that said moving
prey creates minute changes in water pressure that
predatory fish can detect with their lateral lines!”
“Well, seein’ as how y’all seem to grasp Bass
Behavior 101 purty good, let’s move on to Lure
Presentation Skills!” Harry suggested. We marched
back to the gym, where we’d set up an inflatable kiddie
pool. “I want y’all to cast to that thar pool so’s we kin
determine how accurate you is,” he instructed. “But
first, allow me to demonstrate!” Harry reared back his
trusty hawg stick, snapped it forward, and his ancient
baitcastin’ reel suffered a monumental backlash.
“Grrrggnn,” he cussed under his breath.
“Want me to pick that line tangle out for you,
Coach?” Angelina offered, pullin’ a bobby pin from
her hair.
“
She cast her spinnerbait to a lone
cypress knob and instantly her rod
bowed as a lunker bass loaded on!”
64
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
“No, just g’wan ’n’ cast to the dad-blame pool!”
Harry sputtered with embarrassment. All three
young ’uns did, and all three hit the bull’s-eye!
“I’d say these kids has got castin’ accuracy down
pat, too,” I allowed as Harry struggled to untangle
his backlash. “Let’s git ‘em out on the Bayou.”
Next afternoon, we drove the team out to Belly
Button Bayou with Ol’ Stump Jumper in tow. We
piled into the boat ’n’ Harry idled us out to a stumpfield. “Today’s first lesson will be decidin’ the best
targets to throw at,” Harry announced. “Y’all lookee
yonder ’n’ tell me what ya see.”
“A zillion stumps,” Dexter allowed.
“True, but which stumps is most likeliest to hold
basses?” Harry asked.
“Umm … maybe the ones sitting farthest apart
from other stumps … like this one?” Angelina
offered. She cast her spinnerbait to a lone cypress
knob and instantly her rod bowed as a lunker bass
loaded on! She worked the hawg closer and lipped a
dandy 8-pounder! “Guess I was right, huh, Coach?”
For the next lesson, Structure Fishing, we
chugged to the edge of a flat and I stuck the boat
paddle in the water. “Team, note that the paddle
cain’t touch bottom here,” I pointed out. “That
means we’re in deep water!”
As Harry tried to demonOn Belly Button Bayou, any
strate proper casting
water over 3 feet was deep.
technique and accuracy,
“Coach, why don’t you use
he suffered a monumena
proper
sonar unit?” Digby
tal backlash in his
wondered.
trusty ol’ baitcaster.
I held up a battered liquid
crystal graph I’d bought at a
yard sale for a quarter back
in 1981. “Son, over the years,
me ’n’ Coach Harry has
“
Hand me that screwdriver, Dexter. I’ll
get this cockamamie gadget to
workin’!”
experimented with all kinds of fancy fish locaters
like this one, but trust us, nothin’ is mo’ reliable fo’
depthfindin’ than our patented paddle method!”
“I dunno … maybe we should upgrade to modern
fishin’ electronics like Digby sez,” Harry conceded.
“Lemme see that junk graph, Charlie. I bet I can fix
it!” He snatched the unit from me ’n’ hooked up its
frayed power cord to Ol’ Stump Jumper’s battery. A
light briefly flashed on its cracked screen, then died.
“Aha, I spied some life in ‘er!” Harry said hopefully.
“Hand me that screwdriver, Dexter. I’ll git this cockamamie gadget to workin’!”
Harry began pokin’ the screwdriver into every
orifice he could locate on the vintage graph. “Be
careful, Coach Harry!” Dexter warned. “That thing
could give you a heck of a —”
ZZZZTTTTTT!!! The screwdriver hit a live wire
inside the graph an’ the shock lit up po’ Harry like a
Christmas tree!
“Coachin’ that high school team was just another
one o’ my pathetic pipe dreams,” Harry whimpered
from his hospital bed. We’d rushed him to the emergency room after he’d nearly electrocuted hisself,
and the docs had X-rayed his head, but couldn’t find
nothin’ inside (no surprise there!). It appeared the
worst injury he’d suffered was to his self esteem. “I
let them young ’uns down, Charlie!” he sniveled.
“Heck, I couldn’t even show ‘em how to cast without
backlashin’, ’n’ I don’t know squat about jet-age
bassin’ electronics!”
“Yep, we shoulda realized that our team could
never hope to compete against Onion City in a
tournyment by fishin’ from a johnboat with a paddle
fo’ a depthfinder,” I sighed. “Them young ’uns
deserve way better than we could provide ’em!”
Suddenly, the door to Harry’s room burst open
and the bassin’ team rushed inside. “How are you
feeling, Coach Harry?” Dexter inquired anxiously.
“By the way, I fixed that graph!”
“Coach, I made you a batch of my secret bassattracting lure scent in chemistry lab!” Angelina
smiled, handin’ Harry a jar containing a noxious
green substance. “It’s the same stuff I dunked my
worm in when I caught my 13-pounder!”
“Y’all could be the best bassin’ team on the planet
if ya only had decent coaches,” Harry sobbed, tears
rollin’ down his grizzled cheeks. “We’s sorry that
we let y’all down with our outmoded equipment ’n’
redneck ways!”
“Nonsense, we’ll stick with you and Coach
Charlie through thick and thin!” Dexter grinned.
“Like my granddad says, ‘There ain’t no substitute
for country-fried bassin’ know-how’!”
“Right on!” Angelina replied. “Now we have a
little surprise for you. Take it, Digby!”
“I prevailed upon my uncle as an esteemed alumnus of Swamp Gas Corners High to come to the aid
of the bass team,” Digby announced. “Gentlemen,
kindly take a look outside.” We peered out the
window and there in front of the hospital was
Crusty with his brand-new Hydro-Blaster in tow ...
professionally wrapped in the proud school colors of
Swamp Gas Corners High! He spied us gawkin’ ’n’
gived us a hearty thumbs-up.
“What the…” Harry choked. “Crusty is your
uncle?!?!”
“Indeed he is,” Digby said proudly. “And besides
letting us use his boat, he’s supplying the team with
professional-grade bass tackle and colorful competition jerseys!”
“I reckon Swamp Gas Corners High has finally got
a real bassin’ team after all!” I surmised. “I say let’s
hit the water as soon as they turn Coach Harry
loose. And Dexter, if he ever asks you to hand him a
screwdriver again, you hereby have my permission to say no!”
June 2018 BASSMASTER
| 65
[Pattern of the Month]
By JOE SILLS
When Smallmouth
Are A Drag
JVD’s postspawn pattern for bronzebacks is a tournament-tested winner
Last summer, Jonathon VanDam found
himself in a St. Lawrence River slugfest with
a familiar foe. Going into the final day of Elite
Series competition, VanDam trailed his uncle,
Kevin, by less than 3 pounds — and they were
both fishing an identical pattern.
“It’s something I’ve done up here for years
and years,” the younger VanDam says. “I was
finding sandy holes in the middle of rocky, shallow water and hitting them with a drop shot.”
JVD ultimately slid to a fifth-place finish on
Day 4 at the St. Lawrence event, but his faith
in the pattern remained strong. He used it to
win the 2012 Elite Series Green Bay
Challenge and to notch another Top 5 finish
on the St. Lawrence in 2013. “It works all
over the smallmouth region,” he adds. “Up
here, the big spawn is usually in the first few
weeks of June, but we can see fish spawning
all the way until the Fourth of July.”
66
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
[Tackle Tips]
Rod: 7-foot medium
G.Loomis Conquest
Reel: Shimano
Stradic 2500 Ci4+
Line: 8-pound Bass
Pro Shops XPS
fluorocarbon
Hook: No.2 TroKar
drop shot
When VanDam stalks smallmouth in the shallows with
a drop shot, he does not impart a lot of action to the
bait. Instead, he maintains a tight line and drags the
small plastic lure through the sandy patches.
Photo: Seigo Saito, Illustration: Doug Schermer
Here’s how JVD clues in to catch them.
“I use Google Earth to find these types of
places,” he says. “Usually, the lakes are clear
enough for you to see them. I’m looking for
black patches, probably 30 yards long and
about 10 yards wide. They’re two or three times
the size of your average bass boat. That’s where
the fish are going to be.”
The sandy patches are smallmouth beds. And
once VanDam locates them online, he inputs the
coordinates into the Humminbird FishSmart app
on his iPad, which has aerial imagery and
LakeMaster chart information, and heads out.
From the iPad, he can cross-reference the beds’
positions via his chartplotter — a SOLIX 12, also
from Humminbird — and make haste to smallmouth stomping grounds. Because these spots
are usually in 1 to 5 feet of water, you’re unlikely
to need sophisticated electronics once you’re
actually on target, but JVD says you will need a
pair of amber-tinted, polarized sunglasses.
“They are pretty obvious once you’re on them,”
VanDam continues. “You can see the sand and
[The Pro]
“I throw a lot of
Jonathon VanDam
different colors
Total B.A.S.S. tournaments: 91
Classic appearances: 2
HIghest tournament
finishes: 1st, 2012 Elite
Series Green Bay
Challenge; 2009
Northern Open #3
Career earnings:
$541,548
you can usually see the fish
down there. Most of the time,
the fish will be cruising around
the area after spawning. They
might be protecting fry in the
area. You can almost pick an
individual fish and stalk it. I try
to observe it and make a cast
to where I think it’s going to go,
sort of like duck hunting.”
No shotgun — VanDam’s
weapon of choice here is a
3.5-inch drop-shot bait.
“Typically, I’m using 8-pound
fluorocarbon tied to small
micro-swivel, and a leader of
the same line,” he says,
noting that the micro-swivel
is essential to avoid line
twist. “Then, I use a No. 2
drop-shot hook and a
1/4-ounce or 3/8-ounce
weight, because even though
it’s shallow, I’m still making a
lot of pitches, and I want that
bait to remain in contact with
the bottom. A little heavier
weight helps with both of
those things.”
Once the bait is deployed,
he lets the lure sit — rarely, if
ever, giving it a shake when a
bass looks in its direction.
depending on what
they are eating,
whether that’s a
goby color or a shad
color.”
“There are a number of ways
to fish a drop shot. Everyone
has their preference, but I like
for my bait to be as natural as
possible. I’m not the type to
shake the rod tip and have the
bait bouncing all over the
place. I’m just keeping my
line tight and dragging it. I
don’t have to be able to see
the bait, but I want to have a
good idea of where it is. The
biggest thing is keeping the
line tight and maintaining
contact with the bottom.”
VanDam usually maintains
his presentation until it’s
about halfway back to the
boat. And for a stealthier
approach, he’ll often position
his boat between the bank
and the sand, rather than
pulling toward deeper water.
If you’re used to hammering fish when they bite,
VanDam says this technique
will require a little more grace
than you’re accustomed to.
“When they take [the bait], I
just start reeling and pulling.
I don’t ever set the hook hard
with light finesse techniques.
They kind of set the hook
[On Deck]
themselves. When you pull
in, they start pulling back,
and in most cases, you hook
them right in the roof of the
mouth.”
The key to securing a bite
here is finding the right color.
VanDam says the smallies
can be extremely picky, and
he’s often had to swap bait
colors each day of a tournament. For that reason, he
keeps a variety of colors at
the ready, from shad hues to
purple or gold.
“I’m really trying to match
the hatch,” he explains. “I
throw a lot of different colors
depending on what they are
eating, whether that’s a goby
color or a shad color. You
might have to try a few different ones before you get a
bite, but the good news is,
once you do get them to bite,
you’re usually good for the
rest of the day.”
In the right conditions, this
summer smallie pattern can
net Northern anglers big
results. Just ask VanDam.
He’s got a big, blue trophy
back home to prove it. Z
[Weather]
Perfect
Sunny or partly
cloudy; 45- to
55-degree water with a
steady ripple
Flawless conditions for
fishing shallow spawning
beds with a drop shot are
sunny to partly cloudy skies
with relatively warm water
and a light breeze. Still water
makes the fish more timid,
while a ripple could make the
fish extremely aggressive.
Worth a shot
Sunny or
partly cloudy;
45- to
55-degree
water with a light chop
A light chop won’t decimate your drop-shot
chances, though it might
make maintaining contact
with the bottom more difficult. This is the time to try
that 3/8-ounce weight and
scout the area before moving
on to another technique.
Change it up
Cloudy skies;
unseasonal water
temps with fairly
rough water
You’ll have to change it up
when seas get too rough to
drop shot. This happens when
it’s nearly impossible to maintain contact with the bottom.
In this situation, you’re better
off with a casting setup, fishing for reaction strikes,
detailed below.
When conditions are too rough for a drop shot, Jonathon
VanDam switches to a small swimbait; the 2.75-incher is
his favorite. Fish the same sandy areas with the swimbait,
but expect to cover more ground more quickly, and expect
the fish to be more active, as well. VanDam thinks the
waves get the fish into a hunting mode of their own,
instead of the “milling around” they tend to do while he’s
fishing the drop shot.
This combo is tied to a casting setup featuring a
7-foot, 5-inch medium-heavy G.Loomis GLX Bass Jig
and Worm rod with a Shimano Curado reel and 12-pound
fluorocarbon line.
June 2018 BASSMASTER
| 67
[Bass Basics]
By DON WIRTH Senior Writer
Deep Crankin’ Know-How
2 [Where To Cast]
More than most other bass
fishing techniques, deep
offshore crankin’ demands
the use of marine electronics, both for locating the
most likely casting targets
and for returning to them
without wasting time. Here
are three prime areas to hit.
Main-Lake Points
Bass use these ambush
spots to intersect passing
baitfish schools. Start by
cranking the tip and the
deepest side of the point,
making sure the lure bumps
bottom or hits submerged
objects during at least part
of the retrieve.
Deep-diving crankbaits are the go-to lures of Bassmaster Elite Series pros for covering large
pieces of deep structure fairly quickly. While they work in cold water, they’re especially deadly
during summer, when bass are targeting baitfish schools on offshore structure. Here’s the input
you need to score heavy limits right now on these deadly baits.
Deep Crankin’ Logic
When baitfish, including
threadfin shad, move offshore
in summer, bass will follow.
They’ll hold on points, humps
and ledges, often in the 15to 25-foot zone, and wait for
their prey to pass nearby.
Deep crankbaits are designed
to target this depth/structure
scenario. Its long bill causes
the lure to descend at a relatively sharp angle when
retrieved and allows the bait
to deflect off submerged
objects, often triggering reaction strikes.
68
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
Best Deep Crankin’ Conditions
Water clarity — Many Elite
Series pros favor water with
2- to 6-foot visibility for deep
summertime cranking.
Sky — Deep crankin’ works
in both clear and overcast
conditions, provided the lure
color is adjusted. Try light
colors like sexy shad or
reflective chrome under clear
skies and bright colors like
chartreuse when it’s cloudy.
Current — Moving water
creates ideal cranking conditions by concentrating large
numbers of bass on deep
structure. They’re likely to
scatter when current shuts off.
Deep Crankin’ Tools
Rod — A 7-foot (or longer)
“cranking rod” with a soft tip
section is needed to execute
the extra-long casts necessary for deep crankin’.
Reel — Choose a 5.4:1 to
6:1 baitcasting reel for deep
crankbaits. Faster reels are
more fatiguing to fish and
lack the winching power
needed to handle big bass.
Line — Spool up with 12to 15-pound fluorocarbon
— it sinks, is highly abrasion
resistant and has low stretch,
allowing you to feel the crankbait’s vibrations.
Submerged Rockpiles
These are awesome
crankbait targets in riverrun reservoirs … if the
water is moving! Current
pulls bass tight to the structure to gorge on shad and
crawfish.
Ledges
A ledge is a sharp,
offshore dropoff, most likely
the edge of a flooded channel. It may be 18 feet on
top, dropping to 60 feet.
Grinding your crankbait
parallel to the structure’s
deepest edge can provoke
vicious strikes.
Illustrations: Jonathan H. Milo
1 [Why And When To Go Deep]
4
[Quick Tips]
C
A
D
B
E
3 [ Shopping List]
F
Before you head to the lake, swing by your local tackle shop to stock up on these items that
are sure to make your deep crankbaiting more successful.
A Bomber Fat Free Shad
A proven big-fish lure, this
bad boy dives into the money
zone quickly with minimal
cranking effort. The
3/4-ounce version is the one
for summertime crankin’. It
comes in 29 colors; lunkers
crave chartreuse shad.
($6.99) bomberlures.com
D Trilene 100 Percent
Fluorocarbon Line
This line is low stretch,
small diameter, highly abrasion resistant and sensitive
enough so you can feel your
lure’s every move through a
soft-action cranking rod.
200-yard spool of 12-pound
test. ($21.99)
berkley-fishing.com
B Quantum Tour KVD
Cranking Rod
These popular crankin’
rods, available in lengths
from 6-6 to 7-11, feature
ultralight microguides for
reduced line slap and longer
casts. Lightweight composite
blanks blend E-Glass and
carbon for sensitivity and
shock absorption. ($169.99)
quantumfishing.com
C Abu Garcia Revo Winch
Gen 4 Reel
Specially engineered for
fishing high-resistance lures,
this superpowerful 5.4:1
baitcaster features a proprietary Power Stack Carbon
Matrix drag system and an
extended handle with oversized knobs for effortless
crankin’. ($199.99)
abugarcia.com
E Humminbird SOLIX 12
CHIRP GPS
This is the ideal graph for
serious offshore crankin’.
Features include a 12.1-inch
display with LED backlighting, CHIRP digital sonar, GPS
chartplotting, Ethernet
networking and AutoChart
Live, with depth, vegetation
and bottom-hardness
mapping. ($2,399.99)
humminbird.com
F Hound Dog Lure Retriever
When you get hung up
crankin’ deep cover, break
out the Hound Dog instead
of breaking off your lure.
Attach it to heavy nylon cord
— this puppy pays for itself
in no time by retrieving your
costly crankbaits. ($9.49)
jewelbait.com
Elite Series pro Paul Elias
Crankbaits not
getting down
deep enough?
Do what I do:
kneel and reel!
I used this tactic
to win the 1982 Bassmaster
Classic on the Alabama
River, and again at the
2008 Falcon Lake (Texas)
tournament, where I boated
the all-time B.A.S.S. weight
record, 132 pounds, 8
ounces.
Elite Series pro Russ Lane
Bass tend to
move on and off
deep offshore
structures, so it
pays to check a
likely spot more
than once during your fishing
day. I’ll locate several
humps, ledges, etc., during
tournament practice, enter
their waypoints in my electronics, then hit ’em several
times during competition.
Elite Series pro Andy
Montgomery
It can be hard
to stick bass
consistently on
the heavygauge hooks that
come standard with
many deep-diving crankbaits,
especially when the fish hits
on a long cast. If you’re
constantly having crankbait
fish come unbuttoned, switch
to lighter hooks; they penetrate much easier.
Elite Series pro Cliff Prince
When your
crankbait gets
hung in deep
brush, put a
little slack in
your line, shake
the rod tip, and it’ll often
float free. Then rip the lure
with a sharp sideways rod
sweep — that often triggers
a reaction strike.
June 2018 BASSMASTER
| 69
[Lunker Club]
Congratulations to the newest members of the Bassmaster Lunker Club™. Membership in the
club is free and open to any B.A.S.S. member who catches a largemouth bass weighing 10
pounds or more, a spotted bass weighing 5 pounds or more, or a smallmouth bass weighing 6
pounds or more, from Jan. 1, 2017, to the present. New Lunker Club members will receive an
official certificate with holder and a Minn Kota hat.
Bsmaster
LUNKER
CLUB
Samuel Mandock
11-8
10-10
10-2
Miguel Iglesias
Prairie Lake, Florida
1/2-ounce Booyah Pad Crasher frog (white/black/chartreuse)
George Schmidt
6
Lake Baccarac, Mexico
1/2-ounce Gamakatsu Swing Head Jig (black)
[Trophy Trends]
10-2
Species
Weather Conditions
Water clarity: Fished with a guide:
2
4
2
Stained
Clear
Murky
7
1
No (87.5%)
Yes (12.5%)
4
2
2
Largemouth
Smallmouth
Spotted
Scot Graves
6-2
1
Noah Westmoreland
2
4
7
Water Temperature
2
40-49 degrees
3
1
2
50-59 degrees
6-8
3
Lay Lake, Alabama
Livingston Pro Ripper
John Hunter
6-4
Lake Mitchell, Alabama
Rapala Shad Rap
Murray Lake, Louisiana
3/8-ounce jig (white)
Chris Vonderau
5-6
Castaic lower lake, California
8-inch Huddleston
5
Upper Niagara River, New York
2/3-ounce jighead with tube
John Seals
8
Lake St. Clair, Michigan
5-inch Venom tube (smoky grey)
Month Caught
Time Of Catch
February 3 4 6
August 8
November 7
December 1 2 5
2
5
1
Morning
Afternoon
Night
60-69 degrees
Type of water
70-79 degrees
7
Lake
*Average temperature: 57 degrees
1 River
To request an application, write to editorial@bassmaster.com or B.A.S.S., The Lunker Club, 3500 Blue Lake Drive, Suite 330, Birmingham, AL 35243. A
photo documenting the catch must be provided, along with the length and girth of the bass. Only suitable photos will be published in Bassmaster Magazine.
We will only accept entries for bass that are released alive. View lunker photos and get your application online at Bassmaster.com/lunker-club.
70
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
By DAVID BROWN
Lounging On The
Ledge
Season: Summer
Water type: Tennessee River
impoundment
Water temp: 78 to 84 degrees
Clarity: 2 to 4 feet
Depth: 12 to 18 feet
Structure: Main-lake ledges
Cover: Shellbars, isolated
rocks, small drains
running off the adjacent flats, stumps
Forage: Threadfin shad,
gizzard shad, yellow
bass
Weather: Sunny, partly cloudy,
air temps in the low
to mid-90s
Wind: Light breeze
Experts: A trio of Elite Series
pros who know how
to talk fish off the
ledge
Illustration: Doug Schermer
2
[Triple Threat]
Three Elite Series pros use different tactics to target bass on
ledges. Memorize all three techniques and you are sure to
connect with a limit next time you run into these conditions
1
1
2
3
IT’S A DRAG
Jeff Kriet Ardmore, Okla.
First move: “I’m going to look for the tighter contour lines
because I have a sharper break,” Kriet said. “On big, expansive
flats, the fish tend to be more scattered, but if they’re on those
tighter contour lines, the fish seem to be more balled up. You may
have 2 miles of sloping ledge, but 90 percent of your bites will be
on that tighter break. That’s your higher-percentage spot.”
Baits/tackle to use: First choice is a Carolina rig with a
1-ounce weight, 2 1/2-foot leader, 4/0 offset hook and a Big
Bite Baits Mag Finesse Worm (red bug or green pumpkin) or
Creature Bait. Second choice is a Big Bite BB Kicker (shad
colors) on 3/4-ounce head. “I feel like I can catch five keepers
anytime on a Carolina rig. That may not be the way to catch
giants, but that is the way to get bites and find them.”
Angle/boat position: “Even on those tight contour breaks,
there will always be a line that outperforms any other line.
When I get a bite, the first thing I do is look at my line to see
the angle. There are worker bees and there is the hive — I
want to find the hive.”
What to key on: “There is a line where 90 percent of the fish
want to be, but if I’m catching them on that one line and they
cool off, I may pull over and make that same throw from a
different angle.”
3
CATCH ’EM IN THE CURRENT BREAKS
Ott DeFoe Knoxville, Tenn.
First move: “I’ll look for shellbars and other high spots that
create a current diversion, an
eddy or seam — anything those
fish can use for feeding,” DeFoe said.
“The most aggressive and active fish will
always be on the current-leading side.
That’s where the current’s hitting the
hardest, and it creates enough of an
eddy for them so they don’t have to sit
there and fight it.”
Baits/tackle to use: When
strong current has the fish
on top of these high
spots, DeFoe will
crank a Rapala DT 10, 14, 16 or 20,
whichever one maintains bottom
contact for half of his retrieve (color
preferences: Caribbean shad, disco
shad, live river shad). Second choice is
a 6-inch hollow-body swimbait on a
3/4-ounce VMC swimbait head.
Angle/boat position: “Those fish get
fished for a lot, so I want to keep my
boat as far away from them as possible. They hear the boat and they know
you’re there, so you’ll catch more if
you’re not right on top of them.”
What to key on: “I sit deep and throw
shallow. You get hung less and the bait
looks more natural this way. In heavy
current, fish parallel to the spot.”
THE JIG IS UP (AND DOWN)
Keith Combs Huntington, Texas
First move: “I’ll start by dragging a jig, but if the fish
are suspended, I’ll stroke the jig a few feet off the bottom.
Also, if the fish are aggressive, stroking lets me target the
bigger fish.”
Baits/tackle to use: 1-ounce jig in green
pumpkin, brown or summer craw with a
craw trailer (green pumpkin with chartreuse dye on the pincers or Bama
craw for a different look).
Angle/boat position: “If I’m going down a straightaway, I’ll position my boat a half a cast from the target spot
and work at a 45 [degree angle] to keep my bait in the strike
zone longer ahead of the boat. I’ll use AutoPilot on my Minn
Kota Ultrex to set my position and keep me at the right
distance from the ledge.”
What to key on: “If you see a humongous school of fish, you’re
not going to have it to yourself. But if I find little broken up
schools of 10 to 12 fish close together a foot or two off the
bottom, that’s money; they’re going to bite.”
June 2018 BASSMASTER
| 71
[Bass By Yak]
By DAVE MULL
Rod Holder Holders
I lost three rods worth $700 the morning of the second day of the Kayak Bass
Fishing National Championship. While I was rooting through my crate behind
the seat, my butt got a little too far outboard and I flipped into 52-degree
Kentucky Lake. Miraculously, three rods stayed in the tubes and I could, wet
and shivering, keep fishing, but I’m not counting on miracles anymore.
Here are two simple, yet rarely used hacks to keep rods in rod holder tubes.
Apparently, few yak bass anglers think they’ll capsize.
1
Attach an inexpensive carabiner to nylon
cord with a pair of cable ties. Run the
other end of the cord through a hole in the
crate and tie an overhand knot.
2
Repeat for each
rod holder, and
put the carabiner on
the rod above its
handle.
3
Another
option is to
run a tarp bungee
through the screw
hole of the rod
holders. These
bungees can be
bought in bulk for
very little money.
4
Just put the bungee over
the reel handle or around
the reel. This technique is
better because you won’t
scratch your rod or reel with
the bungee; it’s also more
easily removed when you
want to use the rod.
[Gearing Up]
SideWinder Anchor
Line Reel with Track
Hardware and
Paracord, $30
yakattack.us
72
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
Seal Line
10 LTR Baja Dry Bag,
$24.95
seallinegear.com
Hurricane
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$2,599
hurricaneaquasports.com
NRS
Crush Water Shoe
$79.95
nrs.com
Adventure Technology
Oracle Glass Angler
Fishing Paddle, $285
atpaddles.com
catch
June 14-16
ACTION
THE
Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster
Central Open No. 3
Red River, Shreveport, La.
June 20-22
Academy Sports + Outdoors
B.A.S.S. Nation Eastern Regional
presented by Magellan Outdoors
Winyah Bay, Georgetown, S.C.
Presented by
Check out our one-hour weekly
bass fishing show featuring
appearances by Elite anglers
and special guests on SB Nation
Radio network. Check your local
listings or Bassmaster.com/radio
to listen every week!
ATTEND THE EVENT
June 7-10
Bassmaster LIVE
Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Elite at Sabine
River presented by Econo Lodge
Orange, Texas
New hours for 2018!
Check Bassmaster.com/live
for times.
Subject to change.
June 21-24
Bassmaster Elite at the Mississippi River
presented by Go RVing
La Crosse, Wisc.
Catch THE BASSMASTERS
Saturday, June 2, 8 a.m. ET
June 29-July 2
Berkley Bassmaster Elite at
Kentucky Lake presented by
Abu Garcia
Bassmaster Elite at Lake Oahe
Pierre, S.D.
Saturday, June 9, 8 a.m. ET
Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest
benefitting Texas Parks and
Wildlife Department
FOLLOW ON BASSMASTER.COM
•
•
•
•
Streaming weigh-ins
BASSTrakk
Leaderboard
Bassmaster LIVE
Subject to change.
For a complete tournament schedule,
visit Bassmaster.com/2018-tournament-schedule
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[Parting Shot]
25th For 50th
When Kevin VanDam celebrated his 50th
birthday the same year we celebrated the 50th
anniversary of Ray Scott’s first tournament, it
seemed appropriate. The greatest angler of all
time grew up alongside the organization that
would popularize the sport he would eventually
dominate. The fates of KVD and B.A.S.S.
seem woven together. His first win came in
1991 at the Georgia Top 100 tournament held
on Lake Lanier. Yes, he looked like he was still
in high school. VanDam’s latest victory, his
25th, happened this past April at the Academy
Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Grand
Lake in Oklahoma. Sure, KVD looks a little
older (although most wouldn’t guess him 50).
Regardless, it seems a big blue trophy featuring the B.A.S.S. leaping lunker is a fitting
birthday present for not only VanDam, but the
organization, as well.
[The Shot]
Bassmaster photographer
Seigo Saito captured the
blue-trophy shot, mimicking
the VanDam pose from his
very first win in 1991 shot by
long-time Bassmaster
photographer Gerald
Crawford.
June 2018 BASSMASTER
| 79
Back Deck
Dave Precht Editor-in-Chief
Harry ’N’ Charlie Redux
I FEEL SORRY for the high school anglers of today. Sure, they get to skip class to
practice for the next Bassmaster high school tournament and wear cool jerseys
with their school logos and all. But they never knew Harry or Charlie.
The somewhat fictional characters were the stars of the longest-running feature
in Bassmaster Magazine — “The Adventures of Harry ’n’ Charlie” — lasting from
their debut in the July 1971 issue through most of 2006. The feature lived on in
digital form on Bassmaster.com into 2010, but somehow the dateline of Swamp
Gas Corners didn’t quite fit its new online environment.
Younger readers will get a taste of the iconic bass fishing humor series in the
1970s throwback feature on page 60.
When I opened a color proof of that article, a small chill swept over me. Artist
Arturo Gonzales Murga nailed the style of the original cartoonist, Cliff Shelby.
Sadly, Shelby passed away in January
2017, but writer Don Wirth is still a
mainstay contributor to this
magazine.
For 35 years, Shelby and Wirth
enlivened the pages of Bassmaster
with hilarious tales of Harry and
Charlie and their bass club buddies.
They appeared in every issue of my
nearly two decades as editor.
I loved reading Harry ’n’ Charlie —
once it was in print. Editing it was not
my favorite chore. Wirth wrote the
copy as if he were a Midwesterner
poking fun at Southern accents —
which was precisely the case.
Our proofreader threatened to quit if
she had to mark up another installment, and when we finally got computers to publish the magazine, I made
the mistake of running spellcheck on
it, nearly crashing the entire system.
As an illustrator, Shelby was amazingly quick, but he was never prompt.
We learned to call him several days
ahead of the deadline and tell him his
artwork was overdue. He was always
running out of flesh-colored markers.
One of the highlights of my career
was getting to know the creators of the
“
A highlight of my career was
getting to know Don Wirth
and Cliff Shelby, creators of
the beloved Harry ’n’ Charlie.”
80
| BASSMASTER
June 2018
humor column. Both were excellent
fishermen, and they were as funny in
person as in their art and writing.
Harry ’n’ Charlie was born out of the
friendship between Wirth and Shelby,
who worked together at an advertising
agency in Pine Bluff, Ark. Wirth had
moved from Chicago to escape the cold
and be nearer to year-round bass fishing, and the two young men bonded
over their shared passion for bass.
As Shelby wrote once, “Don was the
only person in the whole agency who
knew that a line could be thrown at
something besides a secretary.”
Wirth got a kick out of Southern
culture and bass fishing. He wrote
some “funny little blurbs” about his
and Shelby’s fishing trips. Shelby illustrated them with some cartoons, and
they sent them in to Bassmaster.
Editor Bob Cobb loved the concept
so much he asked for another installment the next month. The odd-couple
bassers lived on through 305 more
episodes, entertaining generations of
B.A.S.S. members.
“Recently I ran into a fellow who
told me his favorite childhood memory
was having his grandfather read
‘Harry ’n’ Charlie’ to him,” Wirth
wrote recently. “Cliff and I never made
much money off our creation, but I
know he would agree that bringing a
little joy to good people like that has
had its own rich rewards.”
M
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3”
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5”
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wg
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ta
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