Records are made to be broken. That’s an age-old adage – cliché if you want. But there are some records that will never be broken. That’s what this story is about, A record that won’t be broken.
Everyone knows who holds the all-time one-day B.A.S.S. weight record. Dean Rojas, right? Dean had a magical day on Toho back in 2001 and brought five bass to the scales that weighed 45-02. Rojas also held the 4-day weight record (108-12) for a couple years until it was broken in 2007 by Steve Kennedy (122-14) and again by Paul Elias with an absolutely stupid mass of fish that weighed 132-08. Folks, that’s 20 fish that averaged 6.625 pounds each.
Yeah, those records are all cemented in our heads and we can spout them out like Rain Man at any moment we need. But who knows who holds the all-time one-day record for the original 15-fish limit and what it weighed?
I’m sure there are some really nerdy bass enthusiasts out there (Ken Duke, Pete and Brian) that know but I would be willing to bet that 98 percent of the bass fishing population hasn’t a clue who Douglas “Rip” Nunnery is and what he did on Lake Eufaula one July day in 1969.
Here’s a clip from the Fall ’69 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.
“Gerald Blanchard weighed in 15 bass that went 81 pounds and 7 ounces for third place – a fantastic stringer of fish for only the first day.
“Bill Dance came in with 15 lunkers weighing 83 pounds and Rip Nunnery of Huntington Park, California shocked everyone with a stringer that required assistance to get from the boat to the weigh-in area. Nunnery’s bass weighed 98 pounds and 15 ounces. This catch set another record for a daily catch.”
The catch itself is amazing but what’s also interesting is Rip was fishing with Blanchard and together they had 30 fish for 180-06 – in one day. That’s a 6-pound average for 30 fish.
This catch has always been important to me because Rip and I were friends. Rip was one of the first people I met when I started working at the tackle shop in 1978 and definitely the first star I met – and believe me when I say we had a ton of stars drop by old Bob’s Fishing Tackle.
Rip rarely talked about his record day but sometimes when the shop was quiet, he’d reminisce about it. He’d talk about fishing against old “Billy Dance,” how he was asked to give a hook-setting demonstration and busted a rod handle (which he did often by the way) and how much he enjoyed fishing with Blanchard.
Rip’s fish were all mounted and displayed in another local shop (Fisherman’s Paradise) and every once in a while, I’d go over to check them out. Below the mounts was a picture of Rip, Ray Scott, Bill Dance and Blake Honeycutt. The picture was signed by Ray Scott if I remember correctly.
Around the early 90s, Fisherman’s Paradise went out of business and Rip brought the fish over to Bob’s – where they still hang on the wall today, picture included.
Rip was a western legend before there were any western legends. He also holds a record that will never again be broken. If we look at the magnitude of this catch closely, we see how amazing it was. Fifteen fish for 98-15. That’s a 6.596-pound average, only a half an ounce per fish shy of Elias’ record average.
Blake Honeycutt won that event with 138-06 for 34 bass. That averages out to be roughly 4-pounds 1-ounce per fish.
Rip was an auto worker for General Motors through the 80s until he retired. All along he had a tackle company, Bandit Bass Lures, where he manufactured football heads (that’s another story for a later date), a jigworm called the Purple Bandit, spinnerbaits and a twin spin called the Double Bass Boober. He was also a factory rep for Wright McGill, Eagle Claw and Maxima fishing line.
Rip fished the southern California team events with his long-time partner Dan Feyo through the 80s until Feyo left for Minnesota. Rip continued to fish the local lakes and the inshore saltwater haunts until he could no longer fish. Rip passed away in 2007 – still the all-time one-day Bassmaster record holder.
[Editor’s Note: Ken Duke of Bassmaster.com wrote a fantastic article in August 2009 about Rip and his catch. To read his article, “World’s Greatest Fishing Hole,” click here. Ken also helped me with a couple of facts that I’d forgotten, so thank you Ken!]
Past Reader Comments:
Ken Duke: Great stuff — as always — Terry. I love your site. Keep up the great work. It’s fun when we can tag team stories like this!
Terry to Ken Duke: Thanks Ken! Appreciate the kind words and getting me straightened out on those two things!
Bill Rice: Nice job on the Rip stories. We had many fun days fishing with Lee Schlimmer & Rip at Irvine and the San Diego City lakes. I still have many original Bandit lures in my several tackle boxes……although none in the original packages.
Terry to Bill Rice: Thanks Bill. I’d love to do a piece on Lee but I only met him a couple times and never really knew him. He also went back east and fished a couple B.A.S.S. events. So, do you remember John Karwoski (sp) or as we called him, “Crappie John?” Funny guy.
Bill M: ‘Rip’ The nickname itself is cool once you realize how he got it. R.I.P. Rip.
Harold Sharp: Another thing about this record was supposedly Rip caught 30 Bass of 31 strikes, he also had an unusual way of setting the hook, when the bass picked up his worm, he pointed the rod tip toward the bass and started cranking in line slowly until the bass hooked itself and then Rip raised the rod tip and landed the bass.
Terry to Harold: Yeah Harold, the story goes that that was verified by Blanchard. Rip did have an interesting hook set. When I said, he broke a lot of rod handles I had first-hand experience with it. I would guess I repaired 20 or more Fuji handles for him over the years. The joke was we were going to replace them with the old metal Featherlights so he’d stop breaking them. 🙂
Rip’s hook setting technique was to wind the reel as fast as possible and when he felt the pressure build in the rod he’d set the hook. But that wasn’t all. He’d be sitting in the chair and when he went to raise the rod, he’d stand up at the same time, putting even more pressure on the fish. This fashion of setting the hook, takes out all the slack and stretch in the line and puts the angler in direct contact with the fish. What was amazing was the force he used when he reared back on the fish. We always joked that we were surprised didn’t rip the lips of the fish. Yeah, that’s how he got his nickname, but that was way before my time.