1974 Bass Master Trail. Al Lindner wins Watts Bar on a key prespawn pattern fishing stumps in the backs of cuts.

Al Lindner wins Watts Bar on a key pre-spawn pattern fishing stumps in the backs of cuts. Photo Bassmaster Magazine July/August 1974.

Editor’s Note: This is Part Two of the 1974 Bass Master Trail and covers the second half of the 1974 season.  Part Three will dive into the 1974 Federation Nationals and the angler who got a birth into the 1974 Bass Master Classic.  Part Four will cover the 1974 Classic contenders and Part Five will cover the 1974 Bass Master Classic.  To read part One, click here.

By the start of the second half of the 1974 Bass Master Trail, the AOY race was beginning to take shape.  Bobby Meador was in the first spot with 122 points and Bill Dance was a close second with 116.  Roland Martin, the winner of the past three AOY awards was a distant 7th, 40 points behind Meador with 82.  If he was going to win a fourth AOY in a row, he’d have get with the program.  Also in the top 5 were Ricky Green (99), Tommy Martin (98) and Russell Cook (85).

At this time, only two anglers has won the AOY – Dance and Martin.  Meador had been a stalwart on the Bass Master Trail up to this point, making Classic appearances in 71 and 73 as well as five top-10 finishes and over $4200 in earnings. Ricky Green, also in the hunt, had nine top-10 finishes, two wins, three seconds and a 3rd-place finish.  Tommy Martin, on the other hand, was a rookie but had already shown his mettle with a win and a 3rd place finish in the first half of the ’74 season.  Who would win the 1974 AOY at this point was anyone’s guess.

 

Watts Bar – Lindner’s Limits Pay Off

Watts Bar had become a standard stop on the Bass Master trail and the 1974 season would make it the third year in a row. Unlike the other two years, though, there’d be a few changes in ’74. For one, the fishing would be much better than the prior two events and second, someone other than Roland Martin would win.

Not only had Martin won the last two years, he actually set the record for the lowest winning weight in the ’73 event with 21-06.

Day one of competition would see 191 anglers casting for cash and their chance at making the 1974 Classic. Of the field, only one angler would be able to put together daily 10-fish limits – that angler being Al Lindner. Lindner would end up walking away from the field by nearly three pounds.

His fish were caught off a pattern he’d developed during his practice. Here are his words as written by Bob Cobb in the July/August 1974 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

“After three practice days I discovered a pattern that looked like it would hold for the tournament, and I decided to stick with it.”

His pattern involved submerged stumps in the back of coves in water 2- to 5-feet deep. He also credited polarized sunglasses with helping him find the stumps.

“I moved from cove to cove and restricted my casts to the stumps. Without the [polarized] glasses, I would have missed spotting several stumps.

He fished six-inch blue and purple Lindy’s plastic worms, stating that the fish wouldn’t chase a bait. He had to let the bait sit for a while before the fish would eat it. Another interesting note – and one that gives further evidence the fish were soon to spawn – was what Lindner said about the number of fish he was getting.

“Most of the bass I caught weighed between 1 1/2 and 2 pounds and were males. The bass were really moving into these areas, and I could almost count on other fish to replace the fish I weighed in the day before.”

This is the first account I’m familiar with where an angler talks about fish replenishing an area or areas – something a number of the top pros talk about today at certain times of the year.

After it was all said and done, Lindner weighed in 30 fish for a total weight of 42-14 and became, as Bob Cobb put it, “[T]he first Yankee angler from outside the traditional Southern bass belt to win a B.A.S.S. tournament since 1969.”

Lonnie Hendrickson (TN) took 2nd-place honors with 39-15, while Elroy Kruegar (TX) took 3rd place with 38-14. Rounding out the top 5 were Glin Wells (TN) with 31-07 for 4th spot and Bill Dance (TN) took 5th place with 31-02.

Bob Bowman (VA) took the tournament’s big fish honors with a 7-05 largemouth and received a Ranger boat worth $2,750. In all, 1,621 bass were caught for a total weight of 2,212-06. the event had an 86.3-percent release rate.

The table below has the top 35 in standings for the event.

 

Bass Master Tennessee Invitational Watts Bar Scorecard – May 1-3, 1974
Place
Angler, State
Points
Weight, lbs-ozs
1
Al Lindner, MN
50
42-14
2
Lonnie Hendrickson, TN
49
39-15
3
Elroy Krueger, TX
48
38-14
4
Glin Wells, TN
47
31-07
5
Bill Dance, TN
46
31-02
6
Ricky Green, AR
45
29-15
7
Elmer Pickens, TN
44
29-11
8
Hubert Greene, NC
43
28-12
9
Roger Moore, MO
42
28-12
10
J. B. Warren, AR
41
28-03
11
John Powell, AL
40
28-00
12
Jake Cox, TN
39
27-15
13
Larry McCuistion, TN
38
25-08
14
Tom Mann, AL
37
25-06
15
Ray Eaton, TN
36
25-01
16
Paul Chamblee, NC
35
24-14
17
Bo Dowden, LA
34
24-13
18
Don Norton, MS
33
24-02
19
Jimmy Houston, OK
32
23-12
20
Pete Nosser, MS
31
23-10
21
Roland Martin, OK
30
23-07
22
Bill Ward, MO
29
23-04
23
Bobby Murray, AR
28
23-00
24
Jim Rogers, MO
27
22-00
25
Billy Primos, MS
26
21-14
26
George Milstead, AL
25
21-11
27
Stan Sloan, TN
24
21-09
28
Ray Bivin, KY
23
21-07
29
Junior Collis, GA
22
21-01
30
Charlie Stevens, NC
21
20-14
31
Charlie LeFevor, TN
20
20-10
32
Bob Poole, TN
19
20-08
33
Russell Cook, MO
18
20-07
34
Junior Samples, GA
17
19-12
35
Rick Clunn, TX
16
18-09

Is It Kerr or Buggs Island?

1974 Bass Master Trail. Don Shealy winner of the 1974 Virginia Invitational on Kerr Reservoir. Photo September/October issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Don Shealy winner of the 1974 Virginia Invitational on Kerr Reservoir. Photo September/October issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

The 5th event of the 1974 Bass Master Trail found the anglers going to Kerr Reservoir on the Virginia/North Carolina border. But there’s always some confusion with this body of water. For those that live on the NC side of the lake, it’s known as Buggs Island Reservoir.

So, in order to give the Tarheel angler a little respect after winning the fifth event of the year, Bob Cobb listed the lake in the first paragraph of the tournament report as Buggs Island. A proper salute indeed.

The Virginia Invitational was another full-field event with 200 anglers looking to either cash in big or earn enough points to qualify for the fourth BASS Master Classic. When all the fish were weighed and scores double checked, first-time trail angler Don Shealy had captured the win – and in a curious fashion.

Here are Bob Cobb’s words on how Shealy captured his win.

“Shealy spooled [his] reel with 14-pound monofilament to which he tied a 5/0 long shank Mustad hook rigged the self-weedless style in a six-inch purple worm (Crème). He departed again from the usual pro style of rigging in that he clamped on the line a No. 4 split shot about six inches in front of the fake wiggler. Most ‘professionals’ use a slip sinker.”

What I left out of that bit of writing was the fact that Shealy didn’t use a spinning or casting reel – he used the split-shot rig with a spin-casting reel.

Spin-casting reel and split-shot rigged worm aside, Shealy caught 24 bass over the course of the event, weighing in at 63-03 besting the likes of Roland Martin and Bill Dance.

Shealy would take the lead in the second round from Ricky Green. Green boasted the best one-day string with 26-13 the first day. Green caught is fish on a chartreuse Weed Wader spinnerbait. He ended up finishing in 11th place.

Roland Martin made a last day surge and brought a string of 22-06 to the scales to move from 6th place into second place with a total of 59-15. Bill Dance, in second place the after two rounds, brought in a bit over 17 pounds to finish the event in 3rd place with 58-01.

Rounding out the top 5 were Paul Chamblee with 52-11 and Stan Sloan with 52-01.

James Nolan caught a 7-09 largemouth that was biggest of the event and won a Ranger boat for his efforts.

The top 35 are shown in the table below.

 

Bass Master Virginia Invitational Kerr Reservoir Scorecard – June 5-7, 1974
Place
Angler, State
Points
Weight, lbs-ozs
1
Don Shealy, NC
50
63-03
2
Roland Martin, OK
49
59-15
3
Bill Dance, TN
48
58-01
4
Paul Chamblee, NC
47
52-11
5
Stan Sloan, TN
46
52-01
6
Al Lindner, MN
45
50-08
7
Gary Wade, NC
44
49-08
8
Johnny Morris, MO
43
49-01
9
Elroy Krueger, TX
42
47-08
10
Woo Daves, VA
41
47-06
11
Ricky Green, AR
40
47-02
12
Fred Nichols, VA
39
46-03
13
John Powell, AL
38
45-08
14
Don Norton, MS
37
44-09
15
Bobby Meador, LA
36
42-07
16
Buddy Allen, VA
35
41-15
17
Jerry Scott, NC
34
41-13
18
Steve Goodwin, NC
33
40-15
19
J. D. Robinson, AL
32
38-08
20
Jim Blair, WVA
31
38-05
21
Mike Tilley, NC
30
38-02
22
Bobby Murray, AR
29
38-00
23
Glin Wells, TN
28
37-09
24
Billy Westmorland, TN
27
37-08
25
Roger Moore, MO
26
37-03
26
Rick Clunn, TX
25
37-00
27
Dave Hilton, TN
24
36-11
28
Bob Blankenship, VA
23
36-02
29
Ray Bivin, KY
22
35-14
30
Junior Collis, GA
21
35-13
31
Lynwood Merrick, VA
20
35-10
32
Rayo Breckenridge, AR
19
35-09
33
Frank Drose, SC
18
35-04
34
Wade Singleton, VA
17
34-09
35
Dwight Keefer, MO
16
34-06

Clark Hill – Dance Locks up Second AOY

1974 Bass Master Trail. John Farr winner of the 1974 All-American on Clark Hill. Photo February 1975 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

John Farr winner of the 1974 All-American on Clark Hill. Photo February 1975 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

The final event of the 1974 Bass Master trail ended up at Clark Hill Reservoir on the South Carolina/Georgia border. B.A.S.S. had held two events on this body of water in the past, the first time in 1970 (The Henshall Memorial – Walter F. George Lake as it’s known in Georgia) and the 1973 BASS Master Classic only a year earlier.

Going into the final event of the season, the Bass Master Angler of the Year award was on the line as were spots for the coveted BASS Master Classic to be held one month later. On the AOY front, Bill Dance was essentially running away with the points lead. Out of a possible 250 points, Dance had 210 compared to Ricky Green (184) and Bobby Meador (166). If Dance was to falter, either of them could make up the ground but the odds were stacked against them. The only other angler that had a shot was 3-time AOY winner Roland Martin who had accumulated 161 points by the end of the fifth event. In order to make it his fourth in a row, Dance would have to finish out of the points (below 50th place) and Martin would have to win.

Regarding Classic qualification, the field was a lot wider open. Essentially any angler in the top 60 had a shot (38 points) at making what ended up being the cut point of 88 points.

After the first day of competition, it was apparent that Dance, winner of the first AOY award, wasn’t going to relinquish his lead for the coveted prize. Instead, he bested the field of 163 anglers and took the day-1 lead with a stringer that weighed 23-15. Dance had locked up his second AOY title.

The second day, though, local angler Danny Whaley (SC) got on them and took the lead with 37-01 for two days. Al Lindner, who limited the first day caught another limit in round two and was in 2nd place with 31-07.

The final day of competition would see another change at the top of the leader board.

Tough conditions took their toll on Whaley and Lindner. Whaley was only able to come up with two fish (3-06) and Lindner blanked. This opened the door for another local angler, John Farr, who weighed in eight bass for 16-02 capped by a 6-14. Farr’s 3-day total of 41-10 (22 fish) gave him slightly more than a 1-pound cushion over Whaley, who finished in second with 40-07 (22 fish).

Bo Dowden (LA) finished in 3rd place with 35-10 (20 fish), while Jerry Rhyne (NC) weighed in 20 fish for a total of 34-09 and 4th place. Rounding out the top 5 was Hancel Little (GA) with 20 fish for 33-13.

Farr caught nearly all of his fish in the Long Cane Creek area of the lake fishing a black 7 1/4-inch Creme Shimmy Gal worm in 6- to 8-feet of water on outside channel bends. Here is Bob Cobb’s account:

“Farr fished the conventional self-weedless worm rig with a sliding 1/4-oz weight on the line, but pegged the hook eye inside the worm with a piece of toothpick.”

It’s interesting to see that the Texas rig still hadn’t become a common phrase even by the 1974 timeframe.

Most of the other top anglers credited their catches to a Carolina rig in deep water. Again, here is Cobb’s account:

“For the most part, other top finishers fished the so-called South Carolina rig. This is a 1/2-oz egg shaped sliding sinker working along the bottom with a super floater plastic worm rigged to rise some 18 inches off the bottom. Dance used this type of rig, as did Whaley, in fishing the 25-30 feet depths.”

I guess that answers the question which “Carolina” the Carolina rig comes from.

Bill Dance would only manage 9-04 the last two days of competition but he finished in 6th place and a total of 255 AOY points – 33 more than runner-up Ricky Green of Arkansas.

Since 1970, when the Angler of the Year award was started, only two anglers had ever won. Two of those trophies went to Bill Dance and the other three went to Roland Martin.

Below are the top 35 finishers for the Clark Hill All-American and the Classic qualifiers.

 

Bass Master All-American Clark Hill Reservoir Scorecard – September 25-27, 1974
Place
Angler, State
Points
Weight, lbs-ozs
1
John Farr, SC
50
41-10
2
Danny Whaley, SC
49
40-07
3
Bo Dowden, LA
48
35-10
4
Jerry Rhyne, NC
47
34-09
5
Hancel Little, GA
46
33-13
6
Bill Dance, TN
45
33-11
7
Tom Mann, AL
44
31-14
8
Al Lindner, MN
43
31-07
9
Tom Taylor, SC
42
31-00
10
Paul Chamblee, NC
41
30-15
11
J. D. Skinner, AL
40
30-15
12
Andy Sceurman, OH
39
29-07
13
Ricky Green, AR
38
28-03
14
Don Norton, MS
37
26-15
15
Paul Varadore, GA
36
26-13
16
Hubert Greene, NC
35
25-10
17
Tommy Martin, TX
34
25-09
18
Bill Greene, VA
33
25-01
19
Loyd McEntire, IN
32
24-03
20
Glin Wells, TN
31
22-08
21
Hugh Massey, KY
30
22-08
22
Junior Collis, GA
29
20-12
23
Butch Anderson, GA
28
20-09
24
Jim Rogers, MO
27
20-08
25
Armand Johnson, SC
26
20-04
26
Les Covey, MO
25
19-10
27
Gary Wade, NC
24
19-00
28
Oren Trefz, GA
23
18-07
29
Pete Calfee, GA
22
17-14
30
Ron Marsh, AL
21
17-12
31
Dave Hilton, TN
20
17-09
32
Sandy Edwards, SC
19
17-07
33
Rayo Breckenridge, AR
18
17-05
34
W. W. Splawn, SC
17
16-13
35
Bill Harbin, SC
16
16-10

 

1974 Bass Master Classic IV Qualifiers
Place
Angler, State
Points
1
Bill Dance, TN
255
2
Ricky Green, AR
222
3
Bobby Meador, LA
166
4
Roland Martin, OK
163
5
Tommy Martin, TX
156
6
Tom Mann, AL
153
7
Elroy Krueger, TX
146
8
Al Lindner, MN
138
9
J. D. Skinner, AL
138
10
John Powell, AL
137
11
Glin Wells, TN
134
12
Bobby Murray, AR
130
13
Johnny Morris, MO
129
14
Bo Dowden, LA
128
15
Paul Chamblee, NC
123
16
Dave Hilton, TN
119
17
Stan Sloan, TN
115
18
Don Norton, MS
111
19
Billy Primos, MS
106
20
Russell Cook, MO
103
21
Rick Clunn, TX
100
22
Roger Moore, MO
95
23
Hugh Massey, KY
90
24
Andy Sceurman, OH
88
25
Billy Westmorland, TN
Qualified winning St. Johns River
26
Don Shealy, NC
Qualified winning Kerr Lake
27
John Farr, SC
Qualified winning Clark Hill
28
Rayo Breckenridge, AR
1973 Classic Winner
29
Charlie Campbell, MO
1974 Federation Champion
30
Loyd McEntire, IN
Regular season points alternate