The 1975 Bassmaster Classic Contenders would again be met with a secret event where the anglers wouldn’t find out where they were fishing until they were on the airplane. Classic V was to be an interesting event with a number of firsts. To start off, it was the first Classic where a father and son both qualified for the event – that father and son duo being Bill and Greg Ward. Second, in keeping with the family theme, it was the first event where two brothers qualified – those being Tom and Don Mann.
The other first was it was the first time that a Californian qualified for the Classic. Dee Thomas did that by winning the Bull Shoals event with his “new” flippin’ technique.
Other interesting facts about this Classic were:
Although Jimmy Houston had fished the Bassmaster Trail sporadically from ’68 on, ’75 was his first full year on tour and he finished third in the AOY race easily qualifying for his first Classic.
Greg Ward, son of Bill Ward and grandson of Virgil Ward, was and still is the youngest to qualify for the Classic at the age of 19.
Classic V had three 5-time Classic qualifiers: Roland Martin, Tom Mann and I’ll let you guess who the third was.
Classic V had seven 4-time Classic qualifiers: Ricky Green, John Powell, Glin Wells, Bobby Murray, Billy Westmorland, Bill Dance and another guy who has left a big imprint on the bass fishing industry. Can you guess who? The answers to these questions can be found at the end of the article.
Anyway, that’s enough of the trivia. Here are the Classic V qualifiers and a little bit about them and the gear they were using at the time.
(1) Roland Martin – 35, Broken Arrow, OK. By 1975 Martin was a 5-time Classic qualifier and 4-time AOY recipient. Rods/Reels – DAM Quick, Boat/Motor – 18-foot Ranger/115 hp Johnson Outboard, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – MotorGuide/Lowrance.
(2) Bill Dance – 33, Memphis, TN. Dance qualified for his 4th Classic in 1975 and came close to winning his third AOY trophy. Rods/Reels – Ram Glass/Ambassadeur/Diawa (spinning reels), Boat/Motor – 17-foot Hydra Sport/115 hp Evinrude, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – Ram Troll/Hummingbird.
(3) Jimmy Houston – 30, Tahlequah, OK. Houston in his first full year of the Bassmaster trail finished a solid third in the AOY standings and made it known that he was there to compete. Rods/Reels – Fenwick/Ambassadeur, Boat/Motor – 16-foot MonArk Super Sport/85 hp Evinrude, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – SilverTrol/Fishmaster.
(4) Ricky Green – 30, Arkadelphia, AR. Since hitting the Trail full time in 72, Green hadn’t missed a Classic and finished in 4th place this year. Rods/Reels – Pflueger/Ambassadeur, Boat/Motor – 16-foot Ouachita Spirit/85 hp Johnson, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – Pflueger/Ray Jefferson.
(5) Jack Hains – 25, Rayne, LA. In his rookie year on the Bassmaster Trail, Hains had the AOY points lead at the mid-year point. He missed the event at Kerr Reservoir, which did him in for the AOY title. Too bad he missed it or he would have given Roland Martin a run for his money. Rods/Reels – Fenwick/Ambassadeur, Boat/Motor – N/A Boat/85 hp Evinrude, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – Pflueger/Ray Jefferson.
(6) Elroy Krueger – 35, Cibolo, TX. In his second year as a full-time Trail angler, Krueger missed the points in only one event – Kerr Reservoir. Although ’75 would be the last time Krueger would fish all events, he made the points (top 50) in 17 of 22 events he fished. Rods/Reels – Speed Stick/Ambassadeur, Boat/Motor – 16-foot Skeeter Wranger/135 hp Evinrude, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – SilverTrol/Ray Jefferson.
(7) Rick Clunn – 29, Montgomery, TX. This was Clunn’s second year on the Trail and his second straight Classic Appearance in what would become a record string that would last 28 years. Rods/Reels – Speed Stick/Ambassadeur, Boat/Motor – N/A Boat/85 hp Evinrude, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – N/A trolling motor/Conolon Model 500 flasher-graph recorder.
(8) Phil Greene – 29, Monroe, LA. This was Phil Greene’s second year on the Trail and his first Classic appearance. Rods/Reels – Skyline/Ambassadeur, Boat/Motor – 16-foot Skeeter Wrangler/135 hp Johnson, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – SilverTrol/Lowrance 660.
(9) Tom Mann – 42, Eufaula, AL. Mann had made making the Classic a habit. This year marked his 5th straight Classic appearance showing that guys with spinning rods were just as capable as guys with casting rods. Rods/Reels – Eagle Claw/Zebco Cardinals and Mitchell, Boat/Motor – 18-foot Ranger/N/A 150 hp motor, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – SilverTrol/Hummingbird.
(10) Marvin Baker – 49, Broaddus, TX. Baker qualified for the ’75 Classic by winning the second event of the season at Toledo Bend. He didn’t stop there, though, fishing three more events; Bull Shoals (8th place), Kerr Reservoir (out of points) and Texoma (8th place), giving him enough points to make the Classic on points. Rods/Reels – Speed Stick/Ambassadeur, Boat/Motor – 16-foot MonArk/85 hp Evinrude, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – SilverTrol/Fishmaster.
(11) Roger Moore – 38, Branson, MO. In his second full-time year on the Trail, Moore made his second Classic in a row. Skyline/DAM Quick, Boat/Motor – 16-foot Venture/115 hp Evinrude, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – RAM Charger/Hummingbird.
(12) Rayo Breckenridge – 46, Paragould, AR. Breckenridge was fishing his 3rd straight Classic. He won the Classic in ’73. Rods/Reels – Fenwick/Garcia-Mitchell, Boat/Motor – 18-foot Ranger/150 hp Mercury, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – SilverTrol and MinnKota/Lowrance.
(13) Loyd McEntire – 34, Indianapolis, IN. This was McEntire’s second full year on the Trail and his first Classic appearance. Rods/Reels – Custom Rods by Billy Westmorland/Zebco Cardinal 4, 17-foot Hydra Sport/115 hp Mercury, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – SilverTrol/Hummingbird.
(14) Al Lindner – 31, Brainerd, MN. Although Lindner only fished four events in the ’75 season, he easily qualified on points to make his second Classic. Speed Stick/Ambassadeur and Zebco Cardinal 4, Boat/Motor – 18-foot Ranger/115 hp Evinrude, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – SilverTrol and MinnKota/Lowrance.
(15) John Powell – 46, Montgomery, AL. Powell was always a threat at any event and the ’75 season marked his 4th Bassmaster Classic qualification. Rods/Reels – Zebco/Zebco Cardinal 4, Boat/Motor – 18-foot Astroglass/115 hp Mercury, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – MotorGuide/Lowrance.
(16) Paul Chamblee – 41, Raleigh, NC. In his second year full time on the Trail, Chamblee made his second straight Classic appearance. Rods/Reels – Fenwick and Speed Stick/Ambassadeur, Boat/Motor – 17-foot Hydra Sport/115 hp Mercury, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – Pflueger and SilverTrol/Lowrance and Hummingbird.
(17) Stan Sloan – 38, Nashville, TN. Although Sloan only fished three events in ’75, he still fished well enough to qualify based on points. It was his 5th straight Classic appearance, a mark he shared with Roland Martin and Tom Mann. Rods/Reels – N/A rods/Ambassadeur, Boat/Motor – 17-foot Hydra Sport/115 hp Johnson, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – SilverTrol/Lowrance.
(18) Russell Cook – 32, Hollister, MO. Cook had fished the Bassmaster Trail full time since 1973, making the Classic each of those years. This was his third appearance, and he would vanish from bass fishing in 1976. Does anyone know what happened to him? Rods/Reels – N/A rods/Ambassadeur, Boat/Motor – 16-foot Grand Sport by Strahm/N/A 85 hp motor, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – MotorGuide/Hummingbird.
(19) Don Mann – 35, Eufaula, AL. This year was Don Mann’s first full-time year on the Trail and also his first Classic appearance. He would go on to fish the ’76 year and make the Classic a second time but would fish only sporadically after that. Rods/Reels – Eagle Claw/Mitchell and Zebco Cardinal 4, Boat/Motor – 18-foot Ranger/150 hp Mercury, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – SilverTrol/Hummingbird.
(20) Greg Ward – 19, Amsterdam, MO. Although Ward only fished 3 events in the ’75 season, he qualified for his first Classic with his father Bill to become the first father and son duo to fish a Classic. He fished his first Bassmaster event in 1973 (the South Carolina National at Keowee) and placed 20th as a 17 year old. Rods/Reels – Lake King/N/A reels, Boat/Motor – 17-foot Ranger/115 hp Evinrude, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – MinnKota/Lowrance.
(21) Bo Dowden – 34, Natchitoches, LA. This was Dowden’s second full-time year on the Trail and his second Classic appearance. He placed in 3 out of 6 tournaments and qualified on points. Rods/Reels – Speed Stick/Ambassadeur, Boat/Motor – 16-foot Ranger/Mercury, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – SilverTrol/Lowrance.
(22) Johnny Morris – 27, Springfield, MO. Since fishing the Bassmaster Trail full time in 72, Morris had made the Classic all four years. The future tackle and boat mogul proved he could fish with the best of them. Rods/Reels – Speed Stick/Ambassadeur, Boat/Motor – 17-foot Ranger/115 hp Mercury, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – SilverTrol/Garcia Fishmaster.
(23) Bill Ward – 40, Amsterdam, MO. In his second year full time on the Trail, Ward made his first Classic by making the points in four out of six events. Rods/Reels – Lake King/Ambassadeur, Boat/Motor – 17-foot Ranger/115 hp Evinrude, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – MinnKota/Lowrance.
(24) Jon Hall – 34, Lynchburg, VA. In his first full-time year on the Bassmaster Trail, Hall made his first Classic by finishing in the points in three out of six events. He would go on to fish 98 events and fish four more Classics. Rods/Reels – Fenwick, EagleClaw/Ambassadeur, Boat/Motor – 18-foot Ranger/135 hp Evinrude, Trolling Motor/Depthfinder – SilverTrol/Hummingbird.
(25) Billy Westmorland – 38, Celina, TN. Westmorland qualified for his fourth consecutive Classic in 1975 and made it by winning the opening event at the St. Johns River for the second year in a row. No information on his gear.
(26) Dee Thomas – 38, Newark, CA. Thomas made a big splash on the world of fishing by winning the Bull Shoals event with a new technique called flipping. He only fished two events in ’75, the first event at Toledo Bend, where he didn’t even make the points and then the second event at Bull Shoals he won. There was no information on Thomas and his preferred gear but I will bet you a Benjamin that he was using a Fenwick Flippin’ Stik and a Ambassadeur reel.
(27) Woo Daves – 29, Chester, VA. Prior to the ’75 season, Daves had only fished one Trail event, the ’74 Virginia Invitational on Kerr where he finished in 10th place. He’d fished two Chapter Nationals, ’73 and ’74, and hadn’t made the Classic. In 1975, the first event he fished was again at Kerr and he won it, making the Classic for the first time. No information was provided on his preferred gear.
(28) John Pryor – 36, Ardmore, OK. Pryor won the last event of the season at Texoma, his first ever Bassmaster event, which qualified him for the Classic. He would fish sporadically from 76 on, fishing one full year in ’93, but never make another Classic. No other information was provided.
(29) Tommy Martin – 34, Hemphill, TX. Martin made his second Classic in a row by winning the ’74 Classic. He barely missed Classic qualification on points so it was good he was the reigning Classic winner.
(30) Nash Roberts III – 33, Metaire, LA. Nash made the ’75 Classic by leading the winning Federation Team (LA) at the Federation Nationals. He finished 4th overall in the Federation Nationals. Although he continued to fish the Federation events and qualified for three more Nationals, he never made another Classic nor did he fish the Bassmaster Trail. No other information was provided.
An interesting thing I saw in the bios provided in the February 1976 issue of Bassmaster was the pros were already starting to not divulge information with respect to what products they were using in some cases. Was that because they weren’t sponsored by such companies and felt they weren’t going to pimp their products or were they in between sponsors? Maybe both? Still it shows that by 1975, bass fishing was starting to become a major industry and if you wanted to pros to talk about your gear, you better make sure they get a monthly stipend.
Bill and Greg Ward Fished (First Father Son)
Tom and Don Mann Fished (First Brothers)
First time a Californian Qualified (Dee Thomas)
Roland Martin (71-75)
Tom Mann (71-75)
Stan Sloan (71-75)
Ricky Green (72-75)
Johnny Morris (72-75)
John Powell (71, 72, 74, 75)
Glin Wells (71-74)
Bobby Murray (71-74)
Billy Westmorland (72-75)
Bill Dance (72-75)
Russell Cook (73-75)
Rayo Breckenridge (73-75)
Don Butler (71-73)
Bobby Meador (71, 73, 74)
Al Lindner (74-75)
Andy Sceurman (73-74)
Bo Dowden (74-75)
Carlos Mayo (71-72)
Don Norton (73-74)
Elroy Krueger (74-75)
Ernest Neil (72-73)
George Oates (71-72)
Hugh Massey (73-74)
Paul Chamblee (74-75)
Rick Clunn (74-75)
Roger Moore (74-75)
Tommy Martin (74-75)
Wallace Lea (71, 73)
[Editor’s Note: This is the fourth story on the 1975 Bassmaster Trail season. To read part one of the 1975 Season at a Glance click here, to read part two click here and to read about the Federation National event click here.]
Past Reader Comments:
Cc: It would be nice to see a series or two of articles on the Western Bass Association from this time period.
Terry to cc: CC, I’d love to do that but I have very few old Western Bass magazines. Bill Rice was kind enough to loan me with years 81-83 and I have 4 or 5 from 76 to 78 but that’s it. Also, WBFA covered their events in their WBFA News – a paper that came out monthy – and not many have survived I bet.
WBFA magazine had more How-To articles than anything else. For example, I still can’t get Part Two of the 1982 US Open done, the part where I’d go through the standings and patterns, because they only talked about the 1st and 2nd place anglers. There’s no standings list. Kind of a bummer but the Open was an interesting event where it was all about the winner so I see their point.
As I come across more old Western Bass magazines and others, believe me the info will get written up. You’re not alone in wanting to see the old western material!
cc to Terry: Thanks much Terry! I know that you guys are working hard and this is a great site.
Harold Sharp: Stan Sloan was the other 5th Classic qualifier in 1975.
Rich: Lots of strong memories in this one. Amazing how many of the top names were using SilverTrol electric motors. Even a couple RAMs. Both brands were gone from the market by 1980. But I did run every brand of trolling motor mentioned at one time or another.
I drew John Pryor a couple years later at 1000 Islands, and he was the nicest guy I ever fished with in a draw tourney at any level.