Roland Martin wins his 5th AOY in 1978. Photo February 1979 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

In Part One of the 1978 Season at a Glance, we looked at the first half of the 1978 Bassmaster Season. Today we look at the second half in 1978 Bassmaster Trail – Part Three. To read Part Two, click here.

By the beginning of May, the Bassmaster Trail was half way through the 1978 season with three Classic qualifiers completed along with the Bass Champs event. By that point the Bassmaster Angler of the Year race was getting pretty heated with Californian Dave Gliebe in the lead by 10 ounces followed by Jerry Rhyne. The top 10 was fairly stacked with anglers such as; Roland Martin (3rd), Larry Nixon (5th), Tom Mann (6th), Bobby Murray (7th) Rick Clunn (8th). See the table below for the entire top 40 in the 1978 AOY race.

1978 Mid-Year Angler of the Year Standings
Place
Angler, State
Weight, lbs-ozs
1
Dave Gliebe, CA
75-12
2
Jerry Rhyne, NC
75-02
3
Roland Martin, OK
64-10
4
David Owens, AR
61-11
5
Larry Nixon, TX
57-13
6
Tom Mann, AL
57-08
7
Bobby Murray, TN
54-13
8
Rick Clunn, TX
54-09
9
Jerry Westberry, FL
54-03
10
James Thomas, AL
53-05
11
Harold Allen, TX
52-08
12
Hank Parker, SC
51-11
13
Ricky Green, AR
50-04
14
Bill Ward, MO
49-02
15
Paul Chamblee, NC
44-12
16
Bill Stephens, AL
44-05
17
Gary Wade, NC
43-06
18
O'Neal Mintz, SC
43-04
19
Jimmy Houston, OK
43-02
20
Glenn Crawford, FL
43-01
21
Leonard Andrews, VA
42-13
22
Bill O'Connor, FL
42-08
23
Bo Dowden, LA
42-03
24
Cliff Craft, GA
40-14
25
Freddie Lester, SC
40-04
26
Roger Moore, MO
40-01
27
Frank Colver, VA
39-12
28
Joe Wagoner, NC
39-06
29
Jack Wade, TX
39-04
30
Marvin Baker, TX
38-15
31
Hurley Board, NC
38-11
32
Tommy Martin, TX
38-06
33
Doug Yarbough, TN
37-15
34
Dick Busby, VA
37-10
35
Dave Hilton, TN
37-07
36
Gene Howard, FL
37-04
37
H. J. Stevens, AR
36-02
38
Forrest Wood, AR
33-04
39
Chic Aydelette, NC
32-12
40
Bill Dance, TN
32-04

But the 1978 season wouldn’t be an easy skate due to the controversial 14-inch length limit imposed on the anglers by Ray Scott. Many of the top anglers in the sport were not happy with the ruling in fact Billy Westmorland, in his book Largemouths, stated that he left B.A.S.S. shortly after that due to this ruling.

One angler who wasn’t bothered by the change in the length limit, though, was North Carolina’s Jerry Rhyne. In fact, Rhyne, who would later found the Hungry Fisherman Trail, blamed the 12-inch length limit on why he didn’t make the 1977 Classic. He had no problem catching big fish, little fish were his demise. Here’s what he had to say in the July/August 1978 issue of Bassmaster Magazine:

“It was a blessing in disguise for me.”

“Last year I tried to pattern myself after Roger Moore, Rick Clunn and Bo Dowden who are very successful at catching limits of small bass, and this hurt me. I didn’t have much luck for a long time. By the end of the season, I had figured out patterns for catching small bass, but then it was too late.”

Rhyne, may not have always caught limits but he always caught bigger-than-average-bass. It was difficult for him to change that train of thought and hurt his 1977 season. So, when 1978 rolled around, he was pretty happy – and his results showed.

Jerry Rhyne was happy with the minimum-length requirement change from 12-inches to 14-inches. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

Further in that article with Rhyne he talked about his method for locating bigger fish. Here is some of what he had to say:

“Finding those larger bass is like looking at a bingo card and watching the four corners. When I find a concentration of small bass, I look for the four corners. These are the farthest things from the concentration, and I fish the two outer, deeper corners. These corners on the structure might be brush, a tree, stump, log, rock or hump. Something like this has to be there, and I’ll concentrate on spots like this during all three days of the tournament.”

Nearly all the bass he’d weighed by mid-season had come from spots like this.

Although, Rhyne had no complaints with the new system, most of the anglers did and the reasons were pretty understandable when you look through the data. By mid-season, only 11 limits had been weighed for 6,750 angler days. Compared to previous years, that number was in the noise.

The second half of the season would see the competition go to Kentucky Lake, the St. Lawrence River and West Point Reservoir, where the AOY would be decided along with the final roster for Bassmaster Classic VIII.

 


Kentucky Lake – Shorty Weighs Big

Shorty Evans started his Bassmaster career in 1969 but it took until 1978 before his first win. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

Kentucky Lake, and its sister Barkley, has become an icon over the years as one of the best bass producers in the country. Known for its school bass – and big schoolers at that – the post-spawn and summer patterns are known to be offshore. That wasn’t the case in the late 70s when B.A.S.S. made its debut on the twin lakes.

But deep-water fishing wasn’t unknown – in fact it was becoming popular because of anglers such as Roland Martin, Bobby Murray and Bill Dance. Another angler that was dedicated to fishing deep was L. F. “Shorty” Evans of Missouri. In fact, Evans had made a name for himself on Kentucky/Barkley Lakes, having won several events over the recent past. The 1978 Bassmaster event would place another notch on his belt.

Evans started off the event with a seven-bass limit that went 27-04. On the second day he added another limit for 16-04 and topped that off the final day with five bass for 13-05 and a total of 56-13. He caught all of his fish within sight of the Port Prizer Point marina on Barkley. His reason for going there was that the marina held a lot of events and a lot of fish were released there. The other strategic thought had to do with the fact the fish had already spawned, and Evans, knowing the fish would head for deep water, concentrated on stump fields and drop offs near these spawning flats.

He caught his fish on a mixture of buzzbaits, Bagley’s crankbaits, a Jelly Worm and Rebel ringworms. In fact, most of his fish came from the deep-water drop-off on plastics.

Second place went to North Carolina angler Paul Chamblee. Chamblee, a noted shallow water spinnerbait angler, caught all of his fish making short casts and flipping a plastic worm at buck brush in three to five feet of water. Chamblee weighed a total of 47-04 (16 bass).

1978 Bassmaster Kentucky Invitational Bass Tournament Patch, Kentucky Lake, KY. Photo Jeff Haines.

Third place went to Bobby Murray who had a three-day total of 45-06 (20 bass). He too concentrated on shallow brush, fishing a 6-inch Jelly Worm and switching to a buzzbait during the middle of the day. Murray also reported that he had his best luck where he found carp working the water (presumably spawning). He noted they dirtied the water and made the bass hold better in the shallows.

Bo Dowden took the fourth spot after a bit of bad luck. He fell out of his boat one day and accidently lost a 14-inch fish as he was measuring it. Still, he weighed in 19 bass for 42-12.

You’d think that a deep-water event would have Roland Martin in the top – and it did. Martin, who weighed in 15 bass for 42-06, rounded out the fifth spot. The problem was Martin, who was evidently still enamored with the new flipping technique, never ventured off the bank.

“I stayed with the flippin’ technique to the end,” he told Bob Cobb. His comment, “I should have changed to casting the last day,” shows he didn’t even think of going to deeper water. Amazing the best structure fisherman of the era got lured into the shallow water.

Overall, 188 anglers caught 1,164 bass that weighed a total of 2,579-07. There were 29 seven-fish limits weighed, almost triple the number from the three previous events. Shorty Evans had the big fish for the event at 7-09. The top-40 in the final standings are listed below.

Bass Master Kentucky Invitational, Kentucky Lake Scorecard – May 31 to June 2, 1978
 
Place
Angler, State
Bass/Alive
Weight, lbs-ozs
Award
1
Shorty Evans, MO
19/17
56-13
$10,345
2
Paul Chamblee, NC
16/9
47-04
$2,380
3
Bobby Murray, TN
20/19
45-06
$1,780
4
Bo Dowden, LA
19/16
42-12
$1,485
5
Roland Martin, OK
15/15
42-06
$955
6
Woo Daves, VA
19/18
40-04
$895
7
Greg Ward, MO
16/12
38-12
$835
8
Tommy Martin, TX
17/17
36-05
$745
9
Gary Wade, NC
15/15
35-11
$715
10
Hank Parker, SC
18/14
35-10
$655
11
Ron Shearer, KY
17/13
35-04
$600
12
Al Curtis, KY
13/12
33-00
$600
13
Harvey Mastin, TN
16/9
30-13
$600
14
Rick Clunn, TX
14/11
30-11
$600
15
Harold Allen, TX
15/15
30-06
$535
16
J. D. Skinner, AL
14/5
30-03
$535
17
Billy Phillips, TN
13/9
29-15
$535
18
Bill Dance, TN
15/15
29-08
$535
19
Dennis Nelson, KY
13/10
29-06
$535
20
Glenn Crawford, FL
12/11
29-05
$535
21
Bill Ward, MO
12/10
28-04
$415
22
John Vinson, KY
11/5
27-15
$415
23
Larry Nixon, TX
13/13
27-12
$415
24
Jim Hunziker, VA
12/9
27-00
$415
25
Max Atkinson, AR
13/6
26-04
$415
26
Jon Butler, TN
14/14
25-12
$375
27
Ricky Green, AR
10/10
25-07
$375
28
Erwin Cole, TN
12/6
24-06
$375
29
Steve Goodwin, NC
9/7
23-15
$375
30
Jimmy Houston, OK
8/7
23-08
$345
31
Steve Mitchell, IN
12/10
23-08
$345
32
Chic Aydelette, NC
11/9
23-04
$315
33
David Owens, AR
10/9
23-04
$315
34
Doug Brown, TX
12/7
22-08
$315
35
Jack Westberry, FL
11/10
22-05
$315
36
Hugh Massey, KY
8/8
22-02
$255
37
Glin Wells, TN
8/7
21-06
$255
38
Sol Fritz, KY
8/7
21-02
$255
39
Charlie Campbell, MO
11/11
21-01
$235
40
J. W. Cheatham, AR
7/6
20-11
$235
Daily Lunker Leaders
Angler, State
Weight, lbs-ozs
Award
Day 1
Shorty Evans, MO
7-09
$3,775
Day 2
Charles Conkle, IN
7-07
$850
Day 3
Dave Carter, TN
6-10
$350
The Box Score
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Total
Total Weight, lbs-ozs
794-05
870-04
914-14
2,579-07
Bass Weighed-in
360
392
412
1,164
7-Bass Limits
7
13
9
29
Bass Alive Weighed-in
277
315
373
965
NOTE:
Two bonus points were awarded for each live fish. Winner Award consisted of $5,345 Cash and a $5,000 Ranger Boat. Overall Big Fish Award was $3,775 Ranger Boat Rigged with trailer, charger, kill switch, Lowrance flasher and Surface Fish-n-Temp, and Johnny Reb LectrAnchor.

St Lawrence River – Martin Sleeps Through the Last Day

Roland Martin ran away with the 1978 St. Lawrence River event in such fashion that he took a nap the final day while his partner continued to fish. Photo 1978 Bassmaster Classic Media Guide courtesy of Ken Duke.

By 1978 no one had come close to winning as many Bassmaster events as Roland Martin, who’d won nine. He’d won four events at that time by more than 10 pounds and the St. Lawrence River would become his fifth blowout.

Martin’s 3rd-round was so good, in fact, that by 7:30 am he knew he’d won and relinquished the front of the boat to his partner. Bassmaster photographer Ron Wright had this to say when he saw Martin in the back seat, feet propped up sleeping. “What’s wrong Roland? Are you sick?”

Martin’s response was, “Ron, I’ve got the tournament won! I’m just cooling it, and watching my partner try to get his limit.”

Martin had happened upon a special spot during practice and bled it dry through three rounds of competition. On the first day he weighed a limit (5 fish) that tipped the scales to 20-05. The second round saw a lot of wind and because of that, Martin couldn’t feel the fish hit his worm – he weighed another limit for 15-10 and went into the final round with a 5-pound lead.

But the final day was magical. His partner, Bill Hauke, knew Martin could win and made a deal with him. Here’s the deal in Martin’s words.

“He told me to go ahead and pull up to my ‘special spot’ and catch five. He offered to fish out of the back of the boat, but wanted to fish first after I got my five.”

Within 20 minutes Martin had 20 pounds in the well.

Martin anchored the boat on the spot, gave up the front and coached Hauke on what he was doing. Martin had been fishing a 7- to 9-inch worm deep in the grass, but the fish were hitting the worm in a picky manner. He figured out what to do – put the reel in freespool when he got bit and wait for the fish to take line, which generally took about 20 seconds.

Hauke’s first fish weighed five pounds, then he missed one about the same size. Martin asked if he could fish off the back of the boat and proceeded to catch a 5-3/4 and then a 6-02 – big fish for the tournament. He ended up weighing a total of 59-13, beating runner-up Gary Wade by 11-10. Wade weighed 15 fish for 48-03.

Cliff Craft placed third with 15 fish for 47-03 while Bill Dance took the fourth spot with a 3-day limit that went 46-11. J. W. Cheatham took 5th-place honors with 15 fish for 45-14.

Totals for the event were 1,650 fish that weighed 3,998-14 with 170 limits. Evidently the 14-inch minimum wasn’t a problem in the northern-tier river.

The final results for the top 40 are shown below – pay special attention to the angler who sat in the 39th spot.

1978 Bassmaster New York Invitational Bass Tournament Patch, St. Lawrence River, NY. Photo Jeff Haines.
Roland Martin walked away with the 1978 New York Invitational on the St. Lawrence River. So much so he took a nap in the back of the boat on the 3rd day after he caught his limit. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.
Bass Master New York Invitational, St. Lawrence River Scorecard – June 21 – 23, 1978
 
Place
Angler, State
Bass/Alive
Weight, lbs-ozs
Award
1
Roland Martin, OK
15/15
59-13
$11,600
2
Gary Wade, NC
15/15
48-03
$2,950
3
Cliff Craft, GA
15/15
47-03
$2,200
4
Bill Dance, TN
15/15
46-11
$1,835
5
J. W. Cheatham, AR
15/15
45-14
$1,175
6
Chic Aydelette, NC
15/15
45-12
$1,100
7
Jake Crutchfield, OK
15/14
44-14
$1.030
8
Larry Nixon, TX
15/15
43-07
$955
9
Jimmy Houston, OK
15/15
42-08
$880
10
Rick Clunn, TX
15/15
41-11
$805
11
John Powell, AL
12/12
39-07
$735
12
Bobby Murray, TN
15/15
39-02
$735
13
Butch Rouse, NM
15/15
38-04
$735
14
Dave Gliebe, CA
12/12
37-03
$735
15
Greg Ward, MO
15/15
37-01
$735
16
Ricky Green, AR
13/12
36-15
$660
17
David Owens, AR
12/12
36-02
$660
18
Bo Dowden, LA
15/15
35-08
$660
19
Roger Moore, MO
15/15
35-08
$660
20
Loyd McEntire, IN
15/15
35-04
$660
21
Rayo Breckenridge, AR
13/12
35-01
$515
22
Bill Ward, MO
15/14
34-09
$515
23
Bob Sickafoose, OH
15/15
34-02
$515
24
Glenn Crawford, FL
15/15
33-12
$515
25
Charlie Howser, IN
12/12
33-00
$515
26
Randy Fite, TX
12/12
32-15
$460
27
Bob Kluth. TN
12/10
32-13
$460
28
Dan Stadler, NY
12/12
32-10
$460
29
John Pryor, OK
13/11
32-07
$460
30
Hank Parker, SC
12/12
32-05
$422.50
31
H. J. Stevens, AR
12/8
32-05
$422.50
32
Charlie Campbell, MO
13/13
32-04
$385
33
Joe Wagoner, NC
15/15
32-03
$385
34
Mark Canter, NJ
14/14
31-14
$385
35
Bob Watson, PA
12/12
31-03
$385
36
Jon Landwerlan, IN
13/8
31-02
$310
37
Sonny Viola, LA
12/12
30-14
$310
38
Marvin Baker, TX
15/13
30-10
$310
39
Rich Zaleski, CT
13/10
30-03
$295
40
Tommy Martin, TX
15/15
30-02
$295
Daily Lunker Leaders
Angler, State
Weight, lbs-ozs
Award
Day 1
Roland Martin, OK
6-02
$3,775
Day 2
Bob Kluth, TN
5-12
$850
Day 3
Dave Gliebe, CA
5-11
$350
The Box Score
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Total
Total Weight, lbs-ozs
1,508-05
1,139-09
1,351-00
3,998-14
Bass Weighed-in
627
465
558
1,650
7-Bass Limits
71
44
55
170
Bass Alive Weighed-in
585
445
546
1.576
NOTE:
Two bonus points were awarded for each live fish. Winner Award consisted of $6,600 Cash and a $5,000 Ranger Boat. Overall Big Fish Award was $3,775 Ranger Boat Rigged with trailer, charger, kill switch, Lowrance flasher and Surface Fish-n-Temp, and Johnny Reb LectrAnchor.

West Point – Fite Proves No Contest

Randy Fite finally came into the “fold” in 1978 when he won his first Bassmaster event at West Point Reservoir, AL in 1978. Photo 1978 Bassmaster Classic Media Guide courtesy of Ken Duke.

The final event of the season would bring the anglers to Bassmaster’s home state of Alabama – specifically West Point Lake. Billed as a shallow-water event, most anglers were caught off guard – having spent pre-practice fishing the shallows.

At the start of the official practice, though, the anglers came back to a lake that had been drawn down eight feet in anticipation of winter. The shallow fish were drawn out to the creek channels; the problem was most of the 168 anglers were fishing them.

Most of them except Randy Fite, that is.

Fite, who is Rick Clunn’s cousin, was a renowned guide on Texas’ Lake Conroe. His forte? Deep water and an inane ability to read a graph.

Fite went into the event knowing he would concentrate in deep water – he was just surprised how deep he’d find the fish. Over the course of practice, he hit nearly 40 spots he’d found on his topo maps and finally located fish on two of those spots – both in over 30 feet of water. His weapons were a Mann-O-Lure spoon and a plastic worm.

Over the course of three days, he brought 21 bass to the scales that weighed 69-11, enough to beat 2nd-place finisher Tommy Mike by a little over seven pounds (62-13 total). Woo Daves took 3rd place with 19 bass for 58-14 while Cliff Craft took 4th with 54-03. Jerry Guest rounded out the top 5 with 54-02.

1978 Bassmaster Alabama Invitational Bass Tournament Patch, West Point Lake, AL. Photo Jeff Haines.

Through three days of tournament competition, the 168-angler field weighed in 1,056 bass for a total of 2,669-09. Twenty-seven limits were caught. Alabama angler James Thomas caught big fish for the event, a 7-15 largemouth.

The final standings are below.

Bassmaster Alabama Invitational, West Point Lake Scorecard – Sept 20-22, 1978
 
Place
Angler, State
Bass/Alive
Weight, lbs-ozs
Award
1
Randy Fite, TX
21/12
69-11
$9,260
2
Tommy Mike, GA
20/16
62-13
$1,895
3
Woo Daves, VA
19/19
58-14
$1,425
4
Cliff Craft, GA
21/20
54-03
$1,185
5
Jerry Guest, GA
18/15
54-02
$760
6
Ricky Green, AR
18/14
47-15
$715
7
Gordon Elkins, GA
15/7
43-03
$665
8
Harold Allen, TX
15/15
42-05
$620
9
Cecil Mitchell, GA
13/11
42-03
$570
10
Jack Chancellor, AL
14/13
39-00
$520
11
Joe Wagoner, NC
14/14
38-04
$475
12
James Thomas, AL
13/10
37-09
$475
13
Al Greene, GA
11/10
37-06
$475
14
Bo Dowden, LA
16/16
37-03
$475
15
Paul Chapple, AL
11/4
33-04
$475
16
David Lockhart, AL
13/13
32-13
$415
17
Jerry Rhyne, NC
11/6
32-01
$415
18
Tom Mann, AL
13/9
31-09
$415
19
Gary Wade, NC
12/11
31-01
$415
20
J. W. Cheatham, AR
12/12
31-00
$415
21
Ron Shearer, KY
10/10
30-09
$350
22
Dan Payne, GA
12/7
30-05
$350
23
Roland Martin, OK
11/10
30-04
$350
24
Hank Parker, SC
15/12
29-15
$350
25
Rick Clunn, TX
11/10
28-06
$350
26
Bill Dance, TN
11/6
28-04
$300
27
Dick Busby, VA
9/9
26-14
$300
28
Frank Ford, GA
10/10
26-12
$300
29
H. J. Stevens, AR
11/9
26-05
$300
30
Glin Wells, TN
11/7
26-02
$300
31
Reid Hurston, GA
11/5
26-00
$250
32
Bill O'Connor, FL
9/4
25-14
$250
33
John Powell, AL
10/9
25-05
$250
34
Bill Stephens, AL
11/9
25-03
$250
35
Wayne Waldrop, AL
12/8
25-03
$250
36
Larry Nixon, TX
10/10
25-00
$200
37
Jimmy Stephens, FL
8/7
24-12
$200
38
Robert Varner, NC
12/11
24-11
$200
39
Bob Upton, GA
10/8
24-06
$180
40
Wendell Riddle, IN
11/9
24-01
$180
Daily Lunker Leaders
Angler, State
Weight, lbs-ozs
Award
Day 1
James Thomas, AL
7-15
$3,775
Day 2
Al Greene, GA
7-09
$850
Day 3
Harold Allen, TX
6-12
$350
The Box Score
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Total
Total Weight, lbs-ozs
995-07
804-08
869-10
2,669-09
Bass Weighed-in
404
312
340
1,056
7-Bass Limits
13
5
9
27
Bass Alive Weighed-in
317
264
284
865
NOTE:
Two bonus points were awarded for each live fish. Winner Award consisted of $4,260 Cash and a $5,000 Ranger Boat. Overall Big Fish Award was $3,775 Ranger Boat Rigged with trailer, charger, kill switch, Lowrance flasher and Surface Fish-n-Temp, and Johnny Reb LectrAnchor.

The West Point event also marked the end of the 1978 Bassmaster Trail season and the final AOY standings. For the fifth time in his career, Roland Martin won the AOY award. This year, B.A.S.S. awarded the AOY based off of total weight for the year and even with one event where he blanked – at the St. Johns River no less – Martin ran away with the title. Finishing in the second spot was Bobby Murray while Ricky Green took 3rd-place honors. For the top-25 Bassmaster Classic qualifiers, please see the table below.

1978 Bass Master Angler of the Year Final Scorecard
Place
Angler, State
Weight, lbs-ozs
1
Roland Martin, OK
197-01
2
Bobby Murray, TN
162-00
3
Ricky Green, AR
160-09
4
Gary Wade, NC
158-05
5
Bo Dowden, LA
157-10
6
Rick Clunn, TX
155-05
7
Cliff Craft, GA
154-01
8
Larry Nixon, TX
154-00
9
Hank Parker, SC
149-09
10
Dave Gliebe, CA
146-15
11
Jerry Rhyne, NC
144-13
12
Harold Allen, TX
143-10
13
David Owens, AR
142-09
14
Bill Dance, TN
136-11
15
Woo Daves, VA
135-00
16
Randy Fite, TX
133-05
17
Tom Mann, AL
132-03
18
Paul Chamblee, NC
131-06
19
Bill Ward, MO
130-00
20
Glen Crawford, FL
128-09
21
Shorty Evans, MO
126-05
22
Jimmy Houston, OK
126-03
23
Greg Ward, MO
122-00
24
Tommy Martin, TX
121-01