So you join the professional bassin’ ranks and make a splash at some point in your career. What do you do? Write a book about it. Seems to be the popular way to promote yourself and share your bassin’ wisdom all at the same time. But what if it’s 1971 and professional bass fishing has only been around for a few years?
If you’re Bill Dance, the hottest stick on the professional Bassmaster’s tourney trail at the time, then your sponsoring lure company works with you and publishes the book. That’s exactly what happened when Cordell Tackle, Inc., and Bill Dance put out the 65 page booklet entitled “Bill Dance, The Bass Champ. Techniques of Bass Fishing,” for just $2.95.
At the time, Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society (B.A.S.S.) was mentioned in the book as being a “20,000 member strong” organization. Bill himself had earned “in excess of $20,000 by winning more bass tournaments than any other competitive fisherman in the United States.” After just 20 events entered, Bill had won 8 of them, with 7 other 2nd or 3rd place finishes, and was heralded as a “boy wonder” among “old pros.” Rather entertaining.
The book covers all the basics of what a pro such as Bill likes and recommends as well as how he fishes certain situations. For example, in the section on “Equipment,” Bill covers things such as rods (5-1/2- or 6-foot pistol grips), line (monofilament), reels (free-spool bait casting), and sonar (FISH LO-K-TOR, Lowrance’s famous “little green box”).
Bill goes on to cover a variety of baits such as the Tattletail worm, the banana jig and eel, The Spot, Boy Howdy, Crazy Shad, Red Fin, Super Shad, Gay Blade, and Huncho (crankbait). He covers the whens and wheres and spends a lot of time dealing with structure fishing and map reading. He even weighs in on such controversial subjects as lure color – “I really believe bass are color blind, but can tell the difference in shades.” Some of the stuff covered in the book is now obviously outdated. However, a lot of it, especially the structure and cover discussions, could be pulled from any current article on the subject. Things like creek channels being the highways for bass, fishing ‘S’ Bends in creek channels, flooded roadbeds, submerged ponds, or semi-submerged cover like stumps.
Of course, the loads of pictures featuring Bill in patch covered jumpsuits along with the then-current stringer shots of big bass will date the book respectively, but it is a very interesting and entertaining read for any historian of the sport. Keep your eyes open for this little gem to show up on eBay or at online historic book retailers and grab yourself a copy for not much more than the book sold for nearly 40 years ago.