Everyone knows of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, better known as B.A.S.S. What many of today’s young anglers don’t know of are the number of early bass organizations that popped up right after Ray Scott organized that first event on Beaver Lake in 1967.
Shortly after that tournament, the Professional Sports Fishing Association was born. By the early 1970s there were four more organizations claiming regional and national tournaments – American Bass Fisherman, National Bass, American Angler and the Bass Casters Association. Today we’re going to talk a bit about he Bass Casters Association, or BCA as it was better known.
Recently a reader named David Fields contacted me about BCA. David was involved with BCA from around 1973 through 1976. He first started out fishing the events and eventually worked for them helping set up events and writing for the magazine. This past week David sent me several Lunker Hole magazines and a bunch of other BCA-related memorabilia. I thought it would be good to look at some of those old magazines as well as some of the tournament patches and pictures.
Back in the day, if you were going to start a bass organization, a magazine wasn’t far behind. As far as we can determine, BCA got its start in late 1968 early 1969 holding regional events in the Illinois/Indiana region. Its original name was the Bass Caster’s Angling Society, BCAS, as seen on the masthead of the first and fourth issues published in 1970.
The logo and emblem are very close to that of B.A.S.S.’s and talking with Clyde Drury, author of Books of the Black Bass, the embroidered bass on the shield was the exact bass used on the B.A.S.S. shield, only reversed. It’s no wonder the name changed from BCAS to the Bass Casters Association between 1970 and 1971.
The first issue of The Lunker Hole was printed for the May/June release period. I must thank Ken Duke for scanning his copy of the issue and sending me the digital copy. In the magazine there is no mention of BCAS-sponsored events. The next magazine I own is Number 4 from Nov/Dec 1970. In that issue there is a write-up of the BCAS Barkley Invitational held September 26-27, 1970. I am unsure how many events BCAS held in 1970 as I am missing Number 2 (July/August 1970) and Number 3 (September/October 1970).
The next issues I have are Number 7 (May/June 1971) and Number 9 (September/October 1971). In these issues you notice the name change from BCAS to BCA on the masthead. The contents of Number 7 doesn’t mention any BCA-sponsored events but does mention a couple club challenge tournaments. Issue Number 9, though, has a good write-up of the Second Annual Barkley Invitational and gives the results for the Champion of Tournament Champions Award – their AOY.
Charlie Bumpas won the 1971 AOY with 880 points while Jerry Crowell took second with 850 points. Reading the AOY report, BCA’s first sponsored event was the first Annual Barkley Invitational in 1970. That event counted in the 1971 AOY race. The next three events were held at Lake Monroe in the spring of 1971, Kentucky Lake in June 1971 and then finished at the Barkley Invitational just mentioned.
The next issue I have is courtesy of David Fields, Volume 3, Number 6 Nov/Dec 1972. By this time BCA has changed their numbering system to one more inline with every other magazine. The first two years 1970 and 71 not being delineated by volume numbers, only Number 1 through 10.
In this issue, it becomes quickly apparent that BCA has been bought out by another organization, United Society of Anglers, USA. I’ll be talking more about the acquisition in another article I’m working on with David Fields.
BCA went on to organize national and regional events. The national events had a $100 entry fee and were held from the Midwest to the south. In 1972 there were four events and 1973 the same. The regional tournaments were meant to allow weekend anglers a shot at competitive fishing and stuck around the Illinois region. Entry fees for the regional events was $25.
Over the course of the next couple months, I’ll be making a deeper dive into the Lunker Hole magazines I have to put together an overview of the organization and the events it held. I’ll also be talking more with David Fields about the origin of the organization and their goals. For now, I’ll leave you with some covers from each year of publication I have as well as some of the awesome tournament patches and other memorabilia David sent.
I’d like to thank David Fields for his help with this piece. There aren’t many people out there today that know much about BCA, how it started and what it stood for.