Here’s a cool old picture of Villis “Bo” Dowden. We dug this picture up from the archives of The Town Talk newspaper from Alexandria, LA from October 1975. The picture is a bit curious due to what was said about it in the paper. Here’s the short blurb.
“Natchitoches’ Villis (Bo) Dowden, front, and Roland Martin of Broken Arrow, Okla. will both be striving for the $15,000 winner-take-all purse in the fifth annual BASS Masters Classic set for Oct. 29-31 on a lake which will not be revealed until the contestants have enplaned from New Orleans Monday.”
The paper is obviously excited to have a home boy in the Classic but the write-up is a bit confusing. Are they stating that Roland Martin is in the back seat of the boat, or are the stating that Dowden and Martin will be competing against each other in a week?
A careful look at the picture and you’ll see that Roland Martin is not in the back seat of this photo. Yes, it’s a grainy picture but there’s no doubt in my mind it’s not Martin. The facial structure and the hair don’t match. Add to that the picture was most likely taken at the ’74 Classic due to the 1974 Bass Masters Classic patch on Dowden’s life vest. This is important to solve this mystery because if you take a careful look at the gentleman behind Dowden, he’s wearing a matching life vest, which points to the likelihood the passenger is his press observer for the day.
In the early days of the Classic, competitors and the press were given matching life vests with the Classic patch sewed on them along with three additional patches each to sew on their daily shirts or patch vests. I have the 1974 Classic patch and the one on Dowden’s vest in the picture is an exact copy of it. He didn’t make the 1973 Classic and the ’75 Classic had yet to be held.
It’s fun little things like this that keep us busy here at the Bass Fishing Archives and it also keeps us motivated. We hope you enjoy these short looks back on the history of our sport.