Today in 1973 BASS Watts Bar Program we have a treat for you all. Something that shows just how big the Bass Anglers Sportsmans Society had grown in only five year since its inception. This program is one of only two I have ever seen and this one belongs to my good friend Jeff Haines. As you may know, Jeff has an immense collection of B.A.S.S. tournament patches that he shares with us on the site, but he’s also a collector of other ephemera associated with bass fishing. This program is a prime example.
The only other program of this sort that I have seen was at Greene’s Boat and Motor in Spindale, NC. It belonged to his father, Hubert Greene, who fished the event. At that time, I wasn’t able to get more than a shot of the cover and it’s presented in the series we did on Greene’s Boat and Motor a while back.
Looking at the program for the first time back at Greene’s, I figured it was a B.A.S.S. publication for the event. From that line of thought I figured that this was one of many programs B.A.S.S. printed for each event they had. For years I have looked for these publications to no avail. This week at the 53rd Bassmasters Classic I found out why.
Let’s get back to the program Jeff loaned me.
Jeff met me at Media Day on Thursday and loaned me the program to scan. While scanning it that night I noticed there was no masthead at the beginning of the publication and no reference to B.A.S.S. That struck me as odd. Then thumbing through the program, I noticed it was essentially all advertisements for local west Tennessee businesses. Other ads in the rag included a Mann’s ad, Pro Throne ad, FlipTail ad and a Silvertrol ad. Amongst the ads were a couple of articles on the area and one article on Roland Martin, defending Watts Bar Champion and leader in the Angler of the Year for 1973.
I found it quite odd that B.A.S.S. would publish something like this, other than the fact Ray Scott liked money and this publication was full of ads that translate to money.
The cover of the program wasn’t very revealing either. In big bold red letters, it states 1973 All American B.A.S.S. Tournament. That’s about as far as I got. Below those words was Watts Bar Lake, Sponsored by The Watts Bar Recreation Association. Not much of a hint in those words who may have published the program.
Being it was Classic week I knew a person who could confirm for me whether this was a B.A.S.S. publication or not. The man himself, Bob Cobb, the first editor of BASSMaster Magazine and the genius behind Bassmaster Television. Bob has been an invaluable asset to me over the past two years. He has taken over for Harold Sharp, who in the first edition of the site helped me tremendously and became a close friend.
On one of my visits to Bob’s booth, where he sells THE book on the history of the Bass Anglers Sportsmans Society, I pulled the program out and handed it to him. His initial reaction was similar to a person who hadn’t seen something important in a long time. That made me feel as though I’d shown him something important in his past life. I took the program out of its sleeve and let him thumb through the pages.
As he worked his way through the pages, I asked him if he was the one who put it together. He kneejerk reaction was, “No Terry, I’ve never seen one of these before.” He continued to move through the pages, examining them with a fine-toothed comb and talking how neat the program was.
When he was done, I asked him who he thought published the program. His words were, “Terry, with as many ads in this, I wouldn’t put it past Ray to have published something like this. There’s a lot of money sitting here in ad revenue and you know as well as I how much Ray liked money. But since this never crossed my desk, I would be willing to bet it was a local thing.”
Then he turned to the front cover and the pieces started to fall in place.
Cobb’s opinion was this. Based on his experience and past, he feels nearly 100% certain that this was published by the Watts Bar Recreation Association to help pay for the privilege of having B.A.S.S. holding an event on Watts Bar. Based on the volume of ads placed, the Recreation Association most likely was able to foot the bill for the entire event through this publication, maybe making a little money for their coffers to boot. If this is the case, I bet Ray is rolling over in his grave knowing now that he missed a prime opportunity to add more to his own coffers.
The program itself isn’t much to look at unless you like ads. The most important thing in the program is the insert, which had the list of anglers who’d be participating in the event, 193 of them. The list is the most complete list of entrants for this event that exists. Bassmaster Magazine only reported the Top-50 in the magazine, thus leaving out more than 750% of the actual entrants.
The other curious thing is that Bassmaster Magazine reported that 179 anglers fished the event, but this list contains 193 entrants. That’s 14 more than reported in the tournament report. Of course, anglers cancel all the time, but what if 20 cancelled and 5 more signed up late? This is what is the most difficult for us here as historians of the sport have to deal with. Who EXACTLY fished these early events. It may not seem like a big deal but to us, it is in order to tell the history as it was.
That’s about all for this Watts Bar Program. Again, I’d like to thank Jeff Haines for loaning it to us. To see the entire program, please see the gallery below. Click on the first image and then use the arrows to scroll through the pictures.