The 1971 Bass Master Trail, or as they used to call it, “The Society’s Tournament Trail,” became the second such season where an angler would be recognized for consistency throughout the year. This title, as called out in the 1971 Nov/Dec issue of Bass Master Magazine, was the Point Scoring Crown, known today as the Angler of the Year award.
But 1971 also marked the year for a number of firsts. This was the first year that the top anglers from the “Tournament Trail” would compete in a year-end championship. This championship, as we all know, is called the Bass Masters Classic. An interesting bit of information is found in the Nov/Dec issue, though. The Classic was not the championship as we know today, but was used to decide who the Bass Angler of the Year was. Here are a few excerpts from Bob Cobb’s “Tournament Trail” column in that issue.
Regarding the Point Scoring Crown: “[Roland] Martin’s victory also clinched the 1971 Point Scoring Crown on the Society’s ‘Tournament Trail.’”
Regarding the first Bass Masters Classic: “Of course by the time you read this you’ll probably have heard the results of the BASS MASTERS CLASSIC, fished Oct. 20-22 at a ‘mystery lake.’ The winner of the super fish-off will be proclaimed the 1971 Bass Angler of the Year.”
Also of note regarding the Classic from the November/December 1971 edition of Bass Master Magazine, Bob Cobb wrote, “The CLASSIC looks like a ‘keeper.’ It may well become the hook, line and slip-sinker equivalent of the Masters golf, the World Series or the Super Bowl. It is designed to be the true test of a Bass Angler’s abilities.” Little did they know at the time The Classic would become the event of the sport.
It’s easy to see from these examples that tournament fishing, specifically the Bass Master Trail, was evolving and Ray and company were doing their best to elevate the sport and give the anglers what they wanted in a tournament circuit.
The year ’71 also marked the beginning of a new era of bass fishing – an era dominated by one angler, Roland Martin. This was the year Martin secured the first of his nine AOY awards. Martin, who had finished in second place the year before to Bill Dance, would bring to the forefront something every angler today takes for granted, pattern fishing.
Lake Seminole Lunker Tournament
The year started off at Lake Seminole on the Georgia/Florida border and anglers expected Martin to repeat his winning performance from the year before. Instead, Tom Mann walked away with the event with Martin finishing in second place.
Mann reported catching his fish on a Wooly Bully spinnerbait the first two days of the event in 3 to 5 feet of water and then had to find deeper water on day 3 due to a cold front.
His winnings for the event consisted of $500 cash, a 16-foot Astroglass boat rigged with an 85 hp Chrysler outboard and trailer. This win brought him into the 3rd-place position for total all-time winnings in B.A.S.S. with $5,015. He trailed Roland Martin ($6,889) and Bill Dance ($20,190).
Concerning Bill Dance, it was written that he was unable to make the event due to the production of his “new” TV show, Bill Dance Outdoors.
A record 198 entrants signed up for that Seminole event and caught 940 bass. The top 35 for the event are shown in the table below.
|Al St. Romain|
|J. D, Robinson|
|Mike St. John|
Table Rock National Tournament
The next event would take the field to Table Rock where 82 anglers vied for the top spot. John Powell won the tournament, the second of his career, and became only the second person of the time to have won multiple events. Bill Dance held that crown with seven wins to his credit.
Powell weighed in a total of 29 bass for the 3-day event (10-fish daily limit) that weighed 59-13. He reported that his day-1 partner Glin Wells tipped him off as to the pattern, light line (10-pound), long casts and short 6-inch plastic worms on gravel banks is what did it for him.
Second and third place went to two rookies, Marvin Miller and Bill Fletcher. Miller used a spinnerbait and weighed in 29 fish for 55-10 targeting areas where carp were spawning. Fletcher utilized a 1/8-ounce yellow jig tipped with a black eel and weighed the only 30-bass limit for 51-11. Rounding out the top 5 were Glin Wells (25 fish, 51-02) and Emmett Chiles (27 fish, 49-09).
Tom Mann retained his lead for the AOY finishing in sixth place and Roland Martin finished in eighth place to maintain the spot behind Mann. The rest of the top 5, as far as I can tell due to limited tournament data, was Bobby Meador, Glin Wells and John Powell. The top 25 for the Table Rock National are shown below.
Again, Bill Dance missed the tournament due to filming his new TV show, what we’d soon come to know as Bill Dance Outdoors.