Today in Circle Lowrance Herschede Cordell, we have a huge piece of history here when it comes to the early days of electronics in bass fishing. I was just scanning the newspaper archives, doing some research for another piece when I happened upon a column that startled me. The column, dated Sunday April 23, 1967, from The Tennessean, is going to shed some light on a myth as well as introduce four prominent angler/personalities.
The date of this piece is the first thing that makes it important. April 1967. This is two months prior to Ray Scott’s inaugural Beaver Lake All-American, where we all can agree the modern tournament era started.
Why is this date important? Because it was at the Beaver Lake All-American that Stan Sloan is given credit for being the first person to place a trolling motor on the bow of a boat. In the past we’ve written about this folklore. I don’t mean to denigrate Mr. Sloan’s contribution to sport, because it was he who shed light to the masses on why the trolling motor should be placed on the bow.
So, who was the first person to place the trolling motor on the bow? Based on the research I’ve done, it was either G. H. Harris who invented the Guide-Right trolling motor or Robert Herschede of the Herschede Hill Clock Company, who bought the rights to the Guide-Right trolling motor and renamed it Motor-Guide.
The bow-mounted foot-controlled trolling motor was developed in 1963. And in this column, written by Bob Steber, the man who gave B.A.S.S. it’s acronym, talks about a fishing event held on Greers Ferry in Arkansas that April where Herschede was present with his bow mount trolling motor.
Before I get on to more of the fascinating parts of this column, let me describe the event that was being written about.
The event was described as the annual APES event. APES stood for April Piscatorial Endeavor Society and was headed by none other than Homer Circle, editor of Sports Afield magazine at the time. For those of you Jason Lucas fans, this was a year prior to Lucas being canned as Fishing editor by Sports Afield.
According to the column, five boats had been secured for the week and all fitted with bow-mount foot-controlled trolling motors from Motor-Guide as well as Lowrance Fish Lo-K-Tors furnished by Carl Lowrance, who was also in attendance.
In the column, Steber talks about bait maker Cotton Cordell fishing with Herschede and Lowrance and getting a lesson on how effective fishing with electronics could be. Steber was quite prophetic when he stated, “Next thing you know we’ll be having closed circuit submerged television so you can determine the size and species of fish you’re trying to catch. It only took a little over 50 years for that premonition to come true.
Another prominent angler of the day mentioned in the column was Billy Burns. Burns, who was from Lexington, Kentucky, fished Scott’s first event at Beaver and was known as one of the best jig fishermen of the day.
Imagine being at this junket back then. What kind of head start could you have on the upcoming competition if you’d had instruction on the use of the depth finder from Carl Lowrance himself. Or had been introduced to the foot-controlled bow-mount trolling motor? Just to be in the presence of Carl Lowrance, Homer Circle, Bob Herschede, and Cotton Cordell would have been enough for me. Then again, I may not have realized what an effect these gentlemen’s contributions would have on the sport.
This is an historical article and it’s placed below in case you’d like to read it in full.