Last week we started our look back into the early California bass scene with the first issue of the California Lunker Club Fish Report. Today in California Lunker Club June 1974, we look at the second issue of the magazine. This issue holds a dear spot in my heart as there are several anglers in here that I knew personally from working at the tackle shop. The others I knew from their accomplishments. For those of you reading this from the area, I hope you enjoy looking back on these trend setters. For those of you not from the area, I hope you enjoy reading the first article ever printed on Flipping and also learning a little about the Florida Bass introduction into California.
The cover has a couple great photos from two separate events. In the upper right are the top-3 and big fish winners for the San Antonio event, Joe Heathcote (1st place), Rip Nunnery (2nd-place), and Jack O’Malley (3rd-place). Heathcote not only could fish but he also poured a hell of a plastic worm in the day, back when there was only one other hand-pour guy in the game. Of course everyone should know Rip’s name. He still holds the one-day 15-fish limit record for B.A.S.S. caught on lake Eufaula in 1969 at 98-15. And O’Malley was just a hell of a stick.
To the left are three anglers from the Lower Otay event, Don Crozier (2nd-place), Dave Nollar (3rd-place), and Tom Ormsby (big fish). Bobby Sandberg won this event, his sixth in the row and isn’t pictured.
Page 2 has a note from CLC president Dave Coolidge on the birth of the newsletter the previous months and gave the troupes a rally cry to keep their information flowing to him for future issues. This was a 3-man team working this, much like Ray Scott had with Bob Cobb and Harold Sharp. Although the CLC didn’t last for very long, when Western Bass bought them out a few months after this newsletter, the momentum was going, all because of the work Coolidge, Naslund and Gardner had done.
The San Antonio tournament report was printed on the following page with a photo of Rip and his limit gracing the page. The report itself took me back the to good old days of fishing California. Joe Heathcote won the event with 14-12, Rip Nunnery came in second with 14-07, and Jack O’Malley came in third with 14-00. The rest of the field that placed in the top-10 was filled with western studs.
Page 4 continued with the tournament report for Lower Otay. Anglers outside of the west probably won’t recognize any of the names unless you followed the big fish hunt back then. The report is a good read as it gives you an idea of what the San Diego bite was like back in the early 1970s.
The next page has several pictures from the events, with on in particular that caught my eye. It was of Tom Armstrong, who was the manager of Fisherman’s Paradise, a tackle store about 5 miles from where I worked. Tom’s grandson and I have been close friends since our childhood.
The following two pages introduced the next two tournament lakes on the agenda. Lake Henshaw, shown on page 6, was a standout lake back in the day. And from the pictures, who can argue. At 800 acres, it was a small lake for a tournament but you work with what you have. Santa Margarita would be the venue for the next northern event. At 1,100 acres it wasn’t much bigger than Henshaw but had a lot more fishable water.
Page 8 had the Lake Nacimiento tournament report – one that should interest everyone. Dee Thomas and partner, Frank Hauck one the first day flipped their aluminum boat and lost most of their gear. By the end of the day, they were sitting in fourth place. The next day they managed to stay in the boat and walked away with the event with 37-04. You owe it to yourself to read this report.
Now comes one of the coolest things in bass fishing. I wrote an article about this in April 2021, but it seems to have been buried. This is the first article ever written on flipping. Dave Coolidge wrote the piece with Dee Thomas. This is one year before Thomas went back and won the BASS Master Arkansas Invitational on Bull Shoals Lake and introduced the world to flipping. This is history at its finest. If you’d like to read the piece I wrote prior, click here.
Pages 11 through 13 feature a great piece on the stocking of Florida bass into southern California waters. Again Dave Coolidge is in the interviewers seat and San Diego fisheries biologist Larry Bottroff is answering the questions. If you’d like to learn more about the history of Floridas in California, this is a good place to start.
The following pages, 14-16, have all the club news from the prior month and pages 17-20 have lake reports. Take a close look at the 16-07 Jack Van Grouw caught at Lake Wohlford to set the new lake record. That fish was a pig. The main thing to remember here is that at this point, the Floridas had only been in the lakes for about 10 years after the first stocking of fingerlings into Upper Otay Lake. Upper Otay was the brood pond for all the lakes in the state.
The remaining pages had the records held by members of the CLC and there had been a couple changes since the first issue. Then there was Harvey Naslund’s Editorial, which features a Q&A with Jerry Dronsky about bass fishing in California compared to the southern states and the introduction of Floridas into the northern part of the state. It’s a colorful exchange between Naslund and Dronsky.
That about wraps up the June 1974 issue of the California Lunker Club newsletter. Since there are only two more of these, I’m going to knock them out in the next two weeks. To see the entire newsletter, see the gallery below.