American Bass Fisherman February / March 1974 Issue Cover.

We’ve talked a little about American Bass Fisherman (ABF) on here before when we talked about a picture of an ABF patch. In that piece we mentioned that the original owner of ABF, George Oates, started the circuit to compete against B.A.S.S., that he got in trouble with the law and in the end John Fox ended up with it before it went bust.

Today we have a little to show you what American Bass Fisherman was like through their February/March 1974 issue. The issue was mostly black and white but had a decent amount of color within its 114 pages. The paper was heavy and the print really good for the time.

First a little background on the organization that I gleaned from the late Clyde Drury’s Books of the Black Bass.

The original name for the organization was The Florida Bass Fisherman, which started in early to mid-1971. Clyde states that at that time, the organization only produced the magazine and hadn’t ventured into the tournament scene. Drury doesn’t state when he thinks the organization started holding tournaments.

In the December 1973 / January 1974 issue, the name of the organization had changed to The American-Florida Bass Fisherman. By the next issue, the issue we’re currently talking about, the name on the cover had changed to the American Bass Fisherman, probably to get more support from the rest of the country.

The masthead and the list of writers on the contents page drives home that Oates was trying to take the organization nationally. Bill Rice and Jim Putney were from southern California, Al Lindner from Minnesota, John Fox from Texas and so on. Other writers of note would be Don Wirth and Larry Larson.

In the Editorial, Oates talks of the gas crunch, new writers, the expansion of ABF, the industry and its tightening of their belts and their new offices in Cocoa Beach, Florida (overlooking the water). That last statement right there, folks, should have been the big warning. The industry is in a downswing and ABF is sporting new digs on the water.

Masthead for the American Bass Fisherman February / March 1974 Issue.
Editorial by George Oates for the American Bass Fisherman February / March 1974 Issue.

In the magazine, they advertised two future events – one on Lake Seminole and another touted as a gas saver on the Clermont Chain of Lakes. I posted the image of each tournament so let’s look at them.

March 1974 Lake Seminole Pro-National Tournament announcement from American Bass Fisherman February / March 1974 Issue.
May 1974 Clermont Chain of Lakes Gas Economy Tournament announcement from American Bass Fisherman February / March 1974 Issue.

The Seminole event was a two-day affair in mid-March. Entry fee was $100.00 with a payout of $4,000 for first, $1,500 for second and $800 for third. They paid down to 30th place, and if you finished between 21st and 30th, you’d get your entry fee back. Cutoff was 200 anglers and the cash payback was nearly $11,000. Add to that three boats and trailers for first through 3rd big fish of the event and various other prizes down to 11th big fish and the payout was pretty hefty.

Unfortunately, there is no tournament report for the event in any of the 1974 issues I have so I can’t provide that information.

The next event they advertised was the two-day Gas Economy Tournament on the Clermont Chain of Lakes in Clermont, FL, May 10-11. Payouts and prizes for big fish were nearly the same as the Seminole event and the entry fee was again $100.

What I don’t understand, and he states this in his Editorial, was they were trying to make it easier for the anglers by holding tournaments closer to home, i.e.: Florida. From what I can tell from this, he was making it more economical on ABF rather than anglers from states other than Florida. Want to hold an economical event for anglers? Hold in in Alabama.

Another cool little deal for those who liked patches and bumper stickers was the full-page ad for those products. I’ve included not only that ad but a variety of patches from American Bass Fisherman from the time.

Patches and decals ad by Emblems by Clint Elkins in American Bass Fisherman February / March 1974 Issue.
Some American Bass Fisherman patches.

I don’t know how much of an effect ABF had on B.A.S.S. at the time, if any, but from the looks of this magazine and others I have, they put out a decent product and one we’ll be talking about more in the future.

American Bass Fisherman sign-up form from 1974.

If anyone has anymore information on this organization, please leave a comment below or contact us at