In Old Bass Boats – 1975 Part 1 and Part 2 we covered the bass boat manufacturers of 1975 and what they were offering angler. Today in Old Bass Boats – 1975 Part 3 we’re going to take a look at the leagues and what they were offering in the way of Championship boats that the consumer could buy. The Bassmaster Classic boat is a very well-known entity in the industry but not many know that both the Bass Caster’s Association and American Bass Fisherman also sold their Championship boats. We’ll give you a look at what they all had to offer in 1975.
The nice thing about these ads is they give you a good idea of how these boats were rigged in the day and what anglers fishing the Championships expected out of the boats. Most were rigged to the hilt with all the new gadgets, the biggest motors and the best electronics. Not only that, you get to see what these packages cost.
We’re not just going to cover the Championship boats, though. Going through the stack of 1975 magazines I have, I also found some boat dealership advertisements that were pretty interesting too. These ads show what dealers were hawking in 1975 and what their prices were for rigged boats. It’s a neat look back at the market in 1975.
Let’s start off with the Bassmaster Classic boat for 1975.
Bassmaster Classic Boat – Looking through my collection of 1975 Bassmaster Magazines, I found several spreads for the Bass Master Classic boat. But issues from January/February through July/August were still pimping the 1974 Bassmaster Classic boat for sale. Evidently Ray had not sold all the old stock and was trying to get them out the door before debuting the 1975 Classic boat.
Then, in the September/October issue, I ran into a spread for the 1976 bass Master Classic boat, which confused the heck out of me until I read the first page of the 6-page ad. Unlike the 1974 Classic Boat ads, Ray was advertising the boats to be used in the 1975 Classic as the 1976 Classic Rig. I’m not sure if this was a typo or that the rigs were built on a 1976 platform. The later is probably the right answer as most boat companies, especially Ranger, were in the position to bring out their new model year boats mid-year.
Continuing with the second page of the ad, Ray goes on to say the boat is based off the Ranger 175A platform, which was debuted in 1975. At 17-feet long it had a 74-3/4-inch beam and was rated for a 115-h.p. motor.
The boat came rigged with a 1976 model Johnson 115-h.p. motor with power trim and tilt, kill switch, a 12/24-volt Silvertrol trolling motor with 23-pounds of thrust, and a Johnny Reb LectrAnchor system. The electronics were a Lowrance LFG-200-BC and a Lowrance Surface Fish-n-Temp gauge, both located on the console. The entire package came on a Silvertrail trailer. This was a few years before Ranger bought Silvertrail and started making their Rangertrail trailers.
The console of the boat featured a speedometer, tachometer, gas gauge, trim, toggle switches for aerator, bilge pumps, and lights. The whole boat was powered by three 96-amp Silvertrol batteries, a battery gauge, and plug-in charging with the Total Electric System switch.
The entire Bass Master Classic boat package cost $5,895* without shipping, destination, and taxes, assuming there were not increased manufacturing costs as qualified from the asterix. Not a bad deal for one of the top boats available at the time.
BCA Grand National Boat – The Bass Caster’s Association Grand National was their equivalent of the bass Master Classic and of course, they had to have a boat for that event. BCA chose to use Arrow Glass as their platform and for the 1975 Grand National, they were using a 1976 model Arrow Glass Nova LTD Mark I. This ad came out of a July/August 1975 Lunker Hole magazine.
The ad is nothing like you saw from Ray Scott’s Classic Boat ad above, but the ad did cover all the points needed. The rig came with a 115-h.p. Mercury and power trim, Son Dyke Custom Trailer with spare tire, Lazy Troll 12/24-volt trolling motor, Humminbird Super-60 Flasher, and three batteries.
The rest of the features were Mercury speedometer and tachometer, Fo-Mac surface temp, electric anchor, 18-gallon gas tank, and all the other options available on the LTD.
As with ray Scott and B.A.S.S., BCA was pre-selling their Grand National prior to the event and for $100 down, you could reserve your boat. The out-the-door price for the boat was $5,295, again not a bad price for a fully rigged boat at the time.
ABF Grand Prix Boat – American Bass Fisherman’s Grand Prix Championship boat for 1975 was based off the 15-feet, 3-inch Stryker bass Boat made in Huntsville, AL. In the Stryker ad we complained a bit about the lack of a description of their boat. Those complaints were answered somewhat here in this two-page spread.
The Grand Prix boat featured an 85-h.p. Evinrude motor with trim and tilt, a 1976 Rebel 12/24-volt trolling motor with a Weedmaster Weedguard, a Garcia Flasher up front, a Garcia Chart Recorder on the console and a Suretemp temperature gauge. Other features included an 18-gallon gas tank, Johnny Reb LectAnchor, two Blakemore batteries, OMC kill switch, full instrumentation, remote power trim on the bow, rod locker, live well and an OMC stainless steel prop. The rig came on a Baron Custom trailer.
This boat seems to have been outfitted better than the Classic and Grand National boats presented above, and the price was even less at $4,295. Of course, this was a 15-foot boat compared to the 17-foot boats offered by B.A.S.S. and BCA.
This ad, taken from the September/October 1975 issue, is cool in that you could choose the boat your favorite angler fished out of. American Bass Fisherman included a list of their Grand Prix anglers based on their Angler of the Year finish for 1975. Some recognizable names for those of you who follow the Bassmaster Trail would be Emmett Chiles, Shorty Evans, Wade Singleton, Jerry Rhyne, Hugh Massey and Glen (sic) Wells. I don’t believe B.A.S.S. ever made an offer like this. At least it wasn’t advertised.
Boat Dealers – 1975
By 1975 several major boat dealerships had determined it would be good to advertise their stock in the bass fishing magazines. Because of this, we’re including some of the boat dealerships in this part of the article to give you a good idea how much these boats cost back in 1975.
Bill’s Marine, St. Louis, MO – Bill’s Marine in St. Louis, MO must have been a pretty big name in the Midwest back in the day. They had multiple ads in each issue of The Lunker Hole magazine I went through and they also seemed to be the first to get new model year boats, before other dealers got them.
An example of this was the new Bass Cat 16-foot Super shown in the first ad. Touted as the “Brand New Super Boat,” the Bass Cat 16-foot Super had a high-performance hull rated for up to a 115-h.p. motor.
The next ad they placed started off by mentioning the BCA Milwood tournament and that three of their anglers had taken top spots. Rich Williams (5th place), Larry Landers (8th place) and Dallas Bacon (11th place).
Boat Town USA, Plantation, FL – Boat Town USA was another of the advertising heavy hitters, at least in American Bass Fisherman magazine. Each issue had one full-page ad between the two shown here.
In the first ad, Boat Town reveals the bass boat manufacturers it stocks, that being Venture, MonArk and Stryker. They also advertise the trailers they stock, electronics, trolling motors, and that they do high-performance custom props. The second ad, they’re pimping Venture Boats, Mercury Motors and H&P Custom Trailers.
The ads were bold and colorful and if I was in the Florida area, I’d have found a way to get to the shop.
Clermont Marine, Jacksonville, FL – Clermont only placed one ad in American Bass Fisherman but I needed to include it because if its contents. For one, the ad features an angler with an amazing string of Florida bass that would open anyone’s eyes, even today. But even more eye-popping than the fish is the boat they’re advertising.
The 15-3 Stryker they’re advertising comes with a 150-h.p. Mercury motor! Wow! Imagine how fast that sucker went down the lake? I can’t imagine that was legal by even BIA standards at the time. Add to that a drive-on trailer, and a MAG-18 trolling motor for $3,995 and you have one screaming deal.
Ditto’s Sales and Service, Palatka, FL – Here’s an old name in the annals of Bass Fishing, Bobby Ditto. Most people know of Bobby Ditto as the guy who developed Ditto Baits, namely the Gator Tail. Not many outside of Florida know he actually owned one of the biggest boat dealerships in the south. Ditto Sales and Service was a big deal. They sold Ranger, MonArk and Stryker according to these ads.
These three ads were found in American Bass Fisherman and two of them give you a good idea of what you could get a 15-3 Stryker for. With a 50-h.p. priced at $3,299 or with an 85-h.p. fully loaded for $4,667.99.
Economy Marine, Pensacola, FL – Another dealership I found was Economy Marine, again out of Florida. I included this ad because it finally shows a dealership and their prices on Ranger Boats. Economy is offering the Ranger TR-10 with an 85-h.p. motor fully rigged for $4,899 or you could get the new 175A with a 115-h.p. motor rigged for $5,369. The 175A offer does not make any mention of electronics so I assume you’d have to buy those for extra.
Economy was also offering two different Ouachita models for sale, the MB or K models. Each came with a galvanized trailer, 85-amp battery, 45-h.p. Volvo Penta motor, controls, tie-down strap, livewell and mechanical steering ONLY, for $2,495. It was a bare boned boat but for the money, you could probably outfit it the rest of the way for a little more.
Wonderful history of the development of the bass boat.
Thanks Dan. We’re glad you liked it!
Have you been able to locate info on the Silvertrol trolling motor? I owned two of these back in the mid to late 70’s. Loved these units.
Dan, what I’ve been able to dig up thus far is that Silvertrol was the first electric motor company that started due to someone having a supply of World War II era electric motors that he didn’t know what to do with. That person was a fisherman and had the idea to make an electric outboard with them. This I got off some website I can’t find now. The next thing I have found is Jim Rogers, of Rogers’ Lures fame, was a part of the company in the 60s through the 70s. That I have seen in numerous ads and a couple articles. Once I get all the information I need, I plan to do an article on the company – assuming they were the first to come out with an electric motor. I have also seen that Minn Kota lays claim to the first but their timeline is a bit after the Silvertrol dates I have seen.
Can’t thank you enough for responding to my inquiry about Silvertrol.. both units I owned waaay back in the day worked flawlessly. Having the option of hand or foot control in one unit was fantastic for different presentations. Oh well, guess I will stick to my Ultrex I-Pilot Link/ Ethernet Helix units. Thanks again and look forward to the Silvertrol article.
No problme at all Dan. I’m just as curious as you are about this stuff. 🙂 No telling how long it’ll take me to dig up accurate info. Seems a lot of people want to lay claim they invented the tech. I am with you on the Ultrex. I’m sure glad I got mine last year!
New technology is amazing but your articles and incredible amount of leg work certainly brings back great memories. Thanks again
Thank you Dan. The kind words make it worth all the digging!
Based upon the boat ads the engine of choice was 115 hp. Fuel capacity was pretty standard at 12-18 gallons. Fuel consumption for those engine/hull designs had to eat the gas so I’m guessing there wasn’t a lot of run and gun during tournaments.
Dan, you’re right on the fuel capacity and consumption. But the Rangers and a couple other boats had 28 gallon capacities and a lot of guys used bladder tanks on the floor. I drew a guy once at a Top 6 tournament in 1981 on Lake Mohave who had a 17-foot Ranger. He had a 175 on the thing, 28 gallon tank and a 30 gallon rubber bladder tank between the rod lockers. We made a one-way run that morning from Katherine’s Landing at Davis Dam all the way up to Eldorado canyon, 75 miles. Didn’t get bit and had to fill the internal gas tank up at Cotton Wood cove on the way back in. I think gas was $1.10/gal back then and $2.00/gal on the water. That was an expensive day for my 17-year old budget. :-/ The event was won 5 miles from the ramp.
Terry, a couple of years back I asked you did you have any of the old Boatmaster magazines published by BASS in 1975 till maybe 1978.
By chance do you??
Stephen, I might have one of them but I can’t find it in my bookshelves. It may be in a box.
Great stuff here. These boats were around when I first got the bass fishing bug. Would have given my right arm for one of them back then. Keep up the good work!
Thank you Tim!!! We’ll be putting up more old boat pieces soon!