Editor’s Note: This is Part Three of the 1974 Bass Master Trail and covers the 1974 BASS Chapter Championship, known today as the Bass Nation Nationals. Part Four will cover the 1974 Classic contenders and Part Five will cover the 1974 Bass Master Classic. To read Part One, click here and to read Part Two, click here.
Bass clubs nationwide were joining the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society at a fevered pace and by 1973, Ray Scott and crew decided it was time to up the anti for these weekend warriors. In ’73, the first B.A.S.S. Chapter Championship was held to determine the best state team in the nation but that wasn’t all. Scott had decided just prior to the event, that the top individual finisher at the Championship would be invited to the Super Bowl of bass fishing – the Bass Master Classic.
That first year, 20 state teams from as far away as California met to compete at Pickwick Reservoir in Alabama. After the dust had settled, the Tennessee Chapter Team won the honors, beating Missouri by over 20 pounds.
Although that was a significant win for Tennessee, the biggest winner that week was Wendell Mann of North Carolina. Mann topped the field of 120 anglers over the course of three days and became the first Chapter (Federation) angler to make it to the Big Show via the National Championship.
The 1974 Chapter Championship would be no different. Clubs held their state qualifying events and put together their six-man teams in order to compete in the National event to be held on Missouri’s Table Rock Lake. Teams from 24 states would participate.
The year prior, the Tennessee delegate prevailed putting a whooping on all comers. After all, Pickwick should arguably be considered their home water. In ’74 there’d be another home-water team – Missouri.
The Show-Me Staters, who finished in the runner-up spot in ’73, weren’t about to let anyone beat them on their home turf. Plus, they had a score to settle with Tennessee.
The ’74 Chapter Championship wasn’t just another event put on by B.A.S.S., though. It was the biggest payout event in the history of the organization’s 44-tournament existence. B.A.S.S. donated $8,250 in cash and industry donated over $24,000 worth of merchandise for a grand total of more than $32,000.
The cash prizes that were awarded to the top-5 clubs were earmarked for their states’ environmental or bass research projects. Remember, the State Chapters were Scott’s way of getting anglers across the country involved in the environmental movement and spread the word of B.A.S.S.
Here is a list of some of the merchandize given away.
- Ranger Bass Boat, trailer, Lowrance depth finder, Motor-Guide trolling motor and electric Anchor (Top individual finisher)
- 16-foot Hydra Sport (Top State Team)
- Fisher Marine Bass Boat with trailer and trolling motor (Overall big bass)
- (2) Silvertrol trolling motors (Daily big bass)
- King Fisher Bass Boat (OK-LA-Tex Top Team)
Campbell Wins Individual
Before the start of the Chapter Championship, Charlie Campbell had only fished one B.A.S.S. event – the 1971 Texas National at Sam Rayburn – where he finished in 29th place. By the time the Chapter Championship was over, though, his berth in the ’74 Classic would spark his career as a full-time B.A.S.S. pro.
The other thing Campbell’s win in the Championship did was bring back to life a nearly-forgotten topwater bait, the Zara Spook.
Campbell walked away – or was that walked the dog – with the event, weighing in 55-15 (25 fish). He reported that his fish came from the Flat Creek area off the James River arm near Cape Fair. His big fish for the event, a 6-13 largemouth, came on a Balsa B. An interesting note about that big fish was he feels it was a fish he lost earlier in the day on a Spook.
Another future B.A.S.S. pro also fished the ’74 Championship – Woo Daves. Daves (VA State Team) had only fished one other B.A.S.S.-sponsored event prior to the ’74 Chapter Championship – that being the Chapter Championship of 1973 held on Pickwick.
Daves would end up a distant second in the individual standings with 38-05 (19 fish). Although he placed well in this event, it would be another couple years (1977) before he fished a full professional tournament season with B.A.S.S.
Third place in the individual standings was held by Bill Braden (OH State Team) with 36-07 (18 fish) and George Bolton (VA State Team) came in 4th place with 35-12. Rounding out the top 5 was Robert Eriksen (SC State Team) with 31-03.
The table below shows the top 35 individuals.
|Charlie Campbell, MO|
|Woo Daves, VA|
|Bill Braden, OH|
|George Bolton, VA|
|Robert Eriksen, SC|
|Jerry Rhyne, NC|
|Al Preseau, FL|
|Don Whittenberg, MS|
|Dick Rexroat, KS|
|Bill Walker, NC|
|Bud Bartold, MO|
|Ken Cook, OK|
|John Butler, TN|
|Bobby Farmer, AL|
|Evan Austin, MO|
|Bob Kritzer, OH|
|Dave Carrol, TN|
|Joe Frederick, VA|
|Gary Weaver, IL|
|Dave Hill, WVA|
|Perry Durham, GA|
|Gary Teer, TX|
|Roger Hurst, KY|
|Lamar West, GA|
|Bob Evans, IL|
|Pete Consolo, WVA|
|Robert McCullar, AL|
|Dave Judy, SC|
|Joe Courcelle, LA|
|Doug Brogden, NC|
|Frank Kluckner, KS|
|Pat Kress, IL|
|Wayne Hensley, IL|
|Bob Carnes, AR|
|George Blackwell, MS|
MIZZOU Wins Team Event – Barely
Although Campbell won the individual event by a landslide margin, the Missouri team barely squeaked by with the win. In fact, the Virginia team led the first two days of the event.
With only one angler on the Missouri team left to weigh in, Virginia had a 5-pound lead. Bill Clements, who hadn’t weighed a fish the first two rounds, brought in five for 12 pounds and the win. What was amazing was the fact that Missouri weighed in over half their total weight on the last day of competition. Their final day weight of 71-08 bolstered them up to 137-00. I wonder if Charlie let his team in on his little secret?
For a complete list of states and their standings, see the table below.
A couple weeks ago I posted a piece on Bass Club Reports from California where I mentioned what the California Chapter did for their qualifier. In that I said I’d post something about their 1974 BASS Chapter Championship report. Well, here it is.
In a nutshell, it’s safe to say the California team wasn’t prepared for this event. That’s easy to understand considering the type of water they fish compared to a place like Table Rock. It was an eye-opening experience I’m sure.
Instead of writing a report I felt it best to look at the full report printed in the July 1974 CLC magazine. There are some interesting comments that all will enjoy.
Past Reader Comments:
Bill Keith: Being a member of the first Missouri national team at Pickwick, I would think our names would be listed in the records. In 1973 our team finished in second place behind the host state team.
Terry to Bill Keith: Thanks for the note. Yes, the MO Federation Chapter came in second and I could have sworn I wrote a piece on that event and for the life of me I can’t find it. I will do some more digging on the site here and if I can’t find it, I will publish something in the next week on it.
On the same subject, I am looking at the Sept/Oct 1973 issue of Bassmaster, which had the Pickwick tournament report in it, and there is only mention of the state standings, the winning team and individual state winners. Bassmaster talked mostly about what the Federation Championship meant to the states in regards to their conservation programs. Thanks for pointing this out.
Marc Marcantonio: More memories. I made it to the Federation Nationals the next year (1975) on the Delaware State Team, and I was thrilled to fish with Charlie Campbell on the 3rd day. I did get to watch him fish that Spook, and I have two identical models still in my tacklebox (one has since been modified, and accounted for my PB of over 13lbs from the Castaic Lagoon). Unfortunately, that day neither Charlie nor I weighed in a single fish to the best of my memory. ciao, Marc
Harold Sharp: I see Jerry Rhyne in 6th place and Ken Cook in 12th, both had long careers on the B.A.S.S. Trail after that.
Terry to Harold Sharp: Yeah, they sure did Harold. I wish the entire list of contestants was listed rather than just the top 35. It’d be interesting to see who else was fishing the Federation at that time. I’m sure there were more than the four mentioned above. It’s pretty cool to see how many anglers got their start fishing the Federation.