The January/February 1974 Issue of Bass Master Magazine not only had the tournament report for the ’73 Classic, it had a very in-depth look at the Classic contenders – the first time B.A.S.S. had done this. Prior to publishing the Classic Report, I felt it best to publish this piece in order to give you more insight as to who fished and what they’d accomplished in the few short years B.A.S.S. had been around. Here are the anglers as they placed in AOY standings.
(1) Roland Martin (Tulsa, OK) – Roland for the third year in a row had taken the Bass Master AOY award. The only other angler at this time to have won an AOY was Bill Dance, who won it the first year it was inaugurated. Over the 72 and 73 seasons, Martin had been such a dominant player in the game that he’d beaten his opponents by more than a tournament’s worth of points by the end of the year. By this point he had also won seven titles and became only the third angler to win back-to-back events in a season.
His winnings had elevated him to the number-one spot in B.A.S.S. earnings ($36,235.20) and had placed in the money in 23 straight regular season events. All six of his finishes for the year were top-5 finishes.
(2) Stan Sloan (Nashville, TN) – Sloan won the first ever Ray Scott tournament in 1967 at Beaver Lake, AR. His lifetime B.A.S.S. earnings were $7,204.80 and had qualified for all three Bass Master Classics up to this point. He was the originator of the Zorro Aggravator spinnerbait, a lure that had won numerous Bass Master events to this date. Sloan had three top-5 finishes during the ’73 season.
(3) Tom Mann (Eufaula, AL) – Mann, the ever-present angler from Eufaula, AL, placed third in the ‘73 AOY standings. In ’71 he and Roland Martin battled it out for the top spot for AOY and Mann lost by 3 points. His total B.A.S.S. earnings by the end of 1973 were $13,650.50. He finished second in the 71 Classic and third in the ’72 Classic. Mann had two top-10 finishes for the year.
(4) Billy Westmorland (Memphis, TN) – Westmoreland, a marina owner/operator on Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee, placed fourth in the ’73 AOY standings. Noted as a smallmouth angler, Westmorland had three top-5 finishes during the year and missed the first event at the St. John’s River. By the end of the season, he had amassed $3,102.50 in total B.A.S.S. earnings.
(5) Bobby Murray (Hot Spring, AR) – Murray won the first Bass Master Classic in 1971 on Lake Mead, NV. He was also the first angler to win on his “home lake,: Lake Ouachita in 1972. After winning a total of $1,978 in the 1973 season, his grand total earnings in B.A.S.S. events had risen to $18,513, third behind Roland Martin and Bill Dance. He had one top-5 finish in 1973 and did not enter the first event at the St. John’s River.
(6) David Lockhart (Fort Mitchell, AL) – Lockhart placed sixth in the AOY standing for the year earning $1,777.65 for his efforts. His total career B.A.S.S. winnings totaled $2,377.65. Neighbors with Tom Mann, he and the tackle manufacturer fishing Lake Eufaula in 1972 weighed a 25-bass stringer that weighed 155 pounds topped by a 13-02 Lockhart caught. He had one top-10 finish in 1973 and missed the Seminole Lunker event.
(7) Bill Dance (Memphis, TN) – Dance, second on the all-time money list for B.A.S.S. tournaments at $26,946.60, had won seven B.A.S.S. events at this time in his career. This after missing all of the ’71 season and part of the ’72 season. At the time he was the only angler to win back-to-back events twice, he did it the first time in 1968 and then repeated in 1970 – the year he won the first AOY award. He had two top-10 finishes in ’73 and missed the first event in Florida.
(8) Glin Wells (Greenbrier, TN) – For the ever-consistent Wells’ the 1973 Classic was his third in a row. He missed the first two events of the year in Florida and Arkansas and had one top-10 finish for the year. Yet he was consistent enough in the other events to garner 136 points – good enough for eighth place. At the end of the season, his all-time B.A.S.S. earnings totaled $5,295.40.
(9) Ernest Neil (Jackson, MS) – Neil, owner of the Action Lure Company, fished the Classic in 1972 and had earned $1,946.90 fishing B.A.S.S. tournaments by the end of the ’73 season. He had one top-5 finish for the year and placed in the money in all events.
(10) Ricky Green (Arkadelphia, AR) – Green, who finished second in the ’72 Classic, missed two events in the 1973 season, had a second-place finish at Watts Bar, missed the Florida and Seminole events still accumulated enough points in the year to make the Classic in the tenth spot. His all-time earnings on the B.A.S.S. Tour were $6,967.80.
(11) Wallace Lea (Powersite, MO) – Lea, a bass guide on Bull Shoals, finished in the 11th spot for the AOY race due to a fourth-place finish in Florida and money finishes in two other events. He missed the last two events of the year, Keowee and Watts Bar. His total earnings at the end of the ’73 season were $3,810. This was Lea’s second Classic.
(12) Johnny Morris (Springfield, MO) – Introduced in the Classic line-up as a “Retail Sporting Goods Dealer” Morris finished in the twelfth spot in the AOY standings. He had two top-10 finishes over the year, placed in the money in another and did not enter the last event at Watts Bar. This was his second Classic having fished the 1972 event at Percy Priest.
(13) Larry Hill (Winston-Salem, NC) – Hill started off the 1973 season with a win at the Florida Invitational. He also set the ten-fish per day limit record (30 bass total) of 108-02 during the event and had a last day total weight of 60-01. Hill fished all six events of the ’73 season with two top-5 finishes and another points finish. His all-time earnings on the Trail were $6,228.40.
(14) Rayo Breckenridge (Paragould, AR) – Breckenridge had on top-10 finish in the 1973 season and finished in the points in three other times to earn his entry into the ’73 Classic. He missed the Seminole event and finished out of the points at the tough Keowee event in South Carolina. By the end of the season, his grand total earnings in B.A.S.S. were $17,560.
(15) Bobby Meador (Baton Rouge, LA) – The ’73 Classic was Meador’s second entry, he finished in the 5th spot in the ’71 event at Lake Mead. He had four points finishes during the year and missed the first event in Florida. His all-time earnings on the Trail were $3,895.35.
(16) Don Mead (Hollister, MO) – This was Mead’s first full year on the BASS Master Trail and he made a big entry into professional bass fishing, making the ’73 Classic. He had one top-5 finish and placed in the money in three other events. His all-time earnings were $1,069.50 of which $919.50 came in 1973.
(17) Don Norton (Clinton, MS) – Owner of the Johnny Reb Lure company, Norton finished in the money in three events and missed the first two in Florida and Arkansas. His all-time earnings on the Trail totaled $1,115.50 at the end of the 1973 season.
(18) Russell Cook (Hollister, MO) – Cook made his debut on the B.A.S.S. Trail making the Classic his rookie year. He had one top-5 finish and placed in the money three other times. His earnings for the 1973 season were $750.
(19) Junior Collis (Decatur, GA) – Collis won the ’73 Keowee event with the at-the-time lowest record weight of 23-15. Prior to the 1973 season, he had only fished two B.A.S.S. events, both in 1972, and placed in both of them. By winning the South Carolina event and placing 15th in the Seminole tournament, he accumulated enough points to fish his only Classic. He did not enter the first three events of the ’73 season. His all-time earnings at the end of ’73 were $4,621.440.
(20) Hugh Massey (Murray, KY) – In his rookie year, Massey had three money finishes in the 1973 season, enough to acquire enough points to make his first Classic appearance. He didn’t enter te first two events of the season and still earned $690.50 in 1973.
(21) J. B. Warren (Knoxville, AR) – Warren made his B.A.S.S. debut in 1973 and fished five out of six events. Out of those, he had two top-10 finishes, enough to get him to his first Classic. Over the course of the ’73 season, he won $760. His number-one tip for anglers just starting out was, “Keep your lure in the water and never give up.”
(22) Andy Sceurman (Newark, Ohio) – Sceurman started bass fishing only 20 months prior to entering his first B.A.S.S event at Lake Seminole, where he placed 17th. He then finished in third at the ultra-tough Watts Bar event and garnered enough points to fish his first Classic. He only entered the last three events of the season in his rookie year. His earnings for the year were $2,950.
(23) Jerry Williams (Greenbrier, AR) – Williams was another of the rookies in ’73 to make the Classic. He fished three of six events finishing in the money all three times. He had one top-5 finish at Ross Barnett and made a cool $770.90 in the process.
(24) Andy Williams – Williams fished five of six events in the 1973 season, finishing in second place at the Florida Invitational and in the money four other times. His earnings for the year were $1,955 whicch upped his all-time earnings to $2,180.
(25*) Ray Gresham (Florence, AL) – The “alternate” for the 1973 Classic, Gresham had one top-10 finish and placed in the money at two other events. His ’73 earnings of $750 bumped his all-time earnings up to $2,375.
(Chapter Champion) Wendell Mann, (Snow Camp, NC) – Mann was the first Federation Qualifier for the Classic in the history of B.A.S.S. He made the Classic by besting all other Chapter anglers at the Chapter Championship held on Pickwick Lake, AL.
(38) Don Butler – Butler was the winner of the ’72 Classic held on Percy Priest Reservoir in Tennessee and qualified for the 1973 Classic as the defending champion. By the end of 1973 he had grossed over $15,015 in Bass Master earnings and won the Beaver Lake Invitational in ’73. He owned Okiebug Distributing, the maker of Okiebug spinnerbaits. The ’73 Classic was his third in a row. He fished five our of the six events held in 1973.
Past Reader Comments:
Joey Breckenridge – Great reading…..I was so fortunate to be there from the early days. My Dad, Rayo, will be inducted into the “National Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame” this August 18 in Nashville, TN. I’ll be accepting the award on Dad’s behalf, and am looking forward to seeing many of Dad’s friends from the early days of professional bass fishing!
Jeff Coble – Very cool site! Just wanted to say that I grew up about 10 miles from Wendell Mann, who was the first ever Federation qualifier for the 1973 Bass Masters Classic. He owned his own tackle shop by the time I met him at the ripe old age of 16. He was directly responsible for introducing me to tournament fishing, and taught me much of what I know about bass fishing. He is still in good health, still fishing, and hunting as much as he can. It is fun to look back at the humble beginnings of tournament bass fishing. Glad you guys are keeping the history alive.
Terry to Jeff Coble – Hey Jeff. Thanks for the compliments. It’s great to hear Wendell is still fishing. I’d love to talk with him about the history of the sport!
RichZ to Jeff Coble: Hey Jeff, good to see you’re still involved in the sport. C’mon up and we’ll play around on Champlain.
Jeff Coble to RichZ – Anywhere the fish are brown, I am game Rich.
Steve Adams – Bill Dance without his trademark University of Tennessee trucker cap!? It’s been so great to learn about all this awesome Bass fishing history! Thank You!
Terry to Steve Adams – Yeah, pretty crazy, huh Steve? Thanks for the kind words!