In today’s Throwback Thursday historical photo we look back to 1986 and the state of Florida, where the 300-man field had just started practicing for the $137,000 BASSmaster Florida Invitational on Lake Okeechobee. Russ Bringger, the previous year’s winner by more than 8 pounds, was considered a “marked man.” Unusually hot fall temperatures had the water warmer than normal leading up to practice, and many were questioning if the bite would all off compared to years past, but a recent cool down threatened to throw a wrench into pre-practice plans.
At the time, Russ was a 35-year-old textile salesman and co-owner of Gambler Worms. According to newspaper reports, he’d amassed more than $70,000 in tournament winnings at the lake. As it would turn out, Russ didn’t get the win, but finished a respectable 25th place with over 32 pounds of bass and cashing another check for $1,100.