If you search for any length of time through the old magazines from 40 or more years ago, one set of ads will look very familiar, the old Bomber ads featuring Floyd Mabry. Many of you older bass aficionados may recall Mabry as an early bass fishing expert who traveled throughout the country fishing with and promoting Bomber baits. His nickname was “Mr. Bomber”, and he was a heavy tackle, play with ’em in the boat, cranking kind of guy. What many may not know, though, is the story behind this Texas Fishing legend. Therefore, today we’re remembering Floyd Mabry.
The start of Mabry’s fishing career actually goes back to 1954, when he entered a $10,000 fishing contest sponsored by The Daily Oklahoman newspaper. In that event, Mabry wound up tied with a guy by the name of Newt Cagle. The winner would earn a spot in the championship finals in the “sand bass” division held on Lake Texoma. A fish-off between the two anglers was held to determine a single winner. The two men were sent back out on the lake to fish for 30 minutes, and the biggest fish determined the outcome. Mabry ended up winning the fish-off, along with a boat, motor, and trailer, plus a spot in the finals. The next day, Mabry won the finals by catching a six-pound, 12-ounce bass, and also the new car that went to the victor.
Before the double win, Mabry owned and operated a bakery, which he decided to sell to try and make a living fishing. After selling the bakery, he took the money and bought a marina on Lake Belton in Texas. That new acquisition gave him the opportunity to fish most every single day over the next eight years and develop his talent and techniques ever further. That on-the-water experience resulted in him winning the Texas State Bass Championship in 1963 when it came to his home waters (Belton), but he would also win the title again in 1965 (Granite Shoals/LBJ), and 1966 (Lake of the Pines).
Around 1968, he sold the marina and joined the Bomber Bait Co. as a tackle representative, the position he is probably best known for. For eight years he traveled the country for Bomber, testing and designing new products, fishing with outdoor writers, and appearing in most of the advertisements that Bomber ran in national magazines. Eventually though, he gave up traveling and joined Bomber’s parent family of tackle reps, the W.L. Carter & Son firm of Richardson, Texas.
In 1985 he was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, and achieved a similar honor in 1997 to the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. In a Casting Call article from 2005 for Bassmaster magazine, no less than Rick Clunn and Bill Dance voted him as the best crankbait angler they knew. Clunn said, “Floyd Mabry was the best of the shallow water crankers”, while Dance stated, “Floyd Mabry was a master at reading breaks in structure and finding just the right retrieve.”
After he quit traveling, Mabry spent his time at seminars, tackle shows, visiting with outdoor writers and taking folks fishing. He took up striper fishing, as well as venturing into saltwater excursions. He eventually moved to a place on Lake Texoma, where he once stated in an article, “I can walk out my back door and have to travel only about 200 yards to get in my boat and go fishing. I wouldn’t swap this life for anything else in the world.” The 1986 article by John Clift went on to quote him; “One of the things that makes what I do so wonderful is that age doesn’t become a factor in fishing. You never are too old or too young to go fishing.”
Floyd Mabry was my hero as a boy. My Dad and I would go fishing at the docks at Floyd’s marina on Lake Belton and always catch fish. One of the thrills for me was to buy minnows at the marina store where Mr. Mabry always had a giant bass in one of the tanks. He is directly responsible for my interest in bass fishing , still some 60+ years later.