Years before he fished the first All-American put on by Ray Scott and the fledgling B.A.S.S. organization, Bill Dance was already making a name for himself. He frequently appeared in the local newspaper with some great catches – and they weren’t always bass catches. For instance, take this 1966 photo showing Bill and partner with a stringer of stripers (white bass?) taken while fishing the river below Pickwick dam.
Just over a year later, in the summer of 1967, Dance would take the first-day lead at the inaugural All-American, held at Beaver Lake, Arkansas, with Stan Sloan hot on his heels in second. By the end of the event, the two would end up swapping places, Sloan coming out on top with the victory. Sloan racked up 1,860 points to Dance’s second place effort of 1,682 points. With that finish, Dance established himself as an early “plastic worm specialist,” that bait doing the majority of the work for his fish. He would later comment that his only downfall in that event was that he “couldn’t stick the hook in many of the bass” he hung.
Interestingly, the bass at that initial event all ran on the small side, the largest caught weighing just 3 pounds 12 ounces, caught on a plastic worm, also. Stan Sloan commented after taking the title, “I’m really happy over winning, but I’ll never understand how I did it (on) the size bass I caught. These are the smallest bass I have ever (caught).”