Ray Scott admiring a bass in “Big Blue” prior to being released. Photo Bass Master Magazine Jul/Aug 1972.

Originally posted 3 April 2012

The 1972 Bassmaster Trail had a number of firsts and records associated with it. To begin with, Ray Scott instilled the “Don’t Kill Your Catch” philosophy that changed the way bass anglers thought about their catch. Prior to ’72, bass anglers everywhere caught a fish, placed it on a stringer and drug it around the lake until they got off the water or weighed the fish in at a tournament. Scott knew that with the success he was having with the 5-year-old Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, if he didn’t do something with regards to fish care at the events, lakes, marinas and residents wouldn’t welcome them in the future.

It was pretty simple situation for Scott to solve. He made a decree at the beginning of ‘72 that all B.A.S.S. events would be “Catch and Release” events. He invested in the production of a 525-gallon aerated livewell, which he coined “Big Blue,” and each fish that came to the dock would be promptly weighed and placed into Big Blue so they could later be released.

Scott had also contacted the boat manufacturers telling them of the new requirement and to start putting aerated livewells in the boats.  Here’s what he had to say: “Our response from the bas boat builders has been gratifying. We can expect the industry to make strides soon in improving bass boat livewells.”

The Fish and Game departments at the time made a guess that the live-release rate would never get above a 50 percent. After the first three events that year, the live-release rate was just above 80 percent – an unimaginable feat considering there were few livewells in boats and most anglers still used a stringer for their catch.

Today the thought of putting a bass on a stringer is considered a heresy and fish care has become as important as catching fish. If one looks at the populations of fish in lakes around the country, it’s evident that they’re better than they were back in the 70s and 80s. A lot of this, in my opinion, has to do with Scott stepping up to the plate and making fish care mandatory. What’s even more impressive was he did this during a time when anglers went to a lake to catch dinner, not catch bass for sport.

As much talk of the new important rules in the March/April and May/June 1972 issues of Bass Master Magazine, The July/August issue had only three pages dedicated to talking about the first three events of the season, and only one picture.  Because of this, this edition of Season at a Glance will be short some of the content you’re used to seeing.

Another interesting thing about the 1972 Tournament Trail reports was the lack of points reported.  Previously Bass Master had given 10 points per ounce to an angler’s weight and reported it in the Scorecard.  This year, all that was reported was total weight.  I’m not sure if they did away with that but if any of you have a 1972 Rules list, please let me know.  Bass Master still awarded 35 points for first on down to 1 point for 35th place for the AOY competition and we’ll be reporting that in this series.

So, on to the tournament season.

The Kissimmee Chain

Gerald Blanchard not only caught big fish in the Kissimmee Chain event but also in the Keowee tournament. Photo Bass Master Magazine Jul/Aug 1972.

The year started off with the anglers heading to the Kissimmee Chain in Florida. The Florida National, as it was called, was won by Alabama angler Tom Mann with 27 bass for a total weight of 47-15. Mann reported that he; “stalked the fish, making short underhand casts to keep a tight line in the 20-mph wind and waves.” He also reported that he; “located the bass building beds around the base of lily pads and over the grass.” All of his fish came on his famed Jelly Worm.

Roland Martin, the favorite to win going into competition, weighed in the only full limit of fish for the event (30) for a total 46-14 to take second place. Shorty Evans weighed 43-00 to net third place and Bill Dance, after being away from professional bass fishing for 18 months, placed fourth with 39-02. Martin and Dance, the ’71 and ’70 AOYs respectively, also revealed their fish were caught bed fishing.

Big fish for the event was caught by early B.A.S.S. stalwart, Gerald Blanchard on a Johnny Reb spinnerbait. His 9-06 largemouth missed the record for biggest bass weighed in by only 3 ounces. Unfortunately for Martin, he caught a 10-02 in practice that would have eclipsed the record.

A record field of entrants showed up for this event with 315 anglers vying for the top position and points to qualify for the second Bass Master Classic to be held at the end of the year. Of the entrants, 1,422 bass were weighed (1,200 released live) for a total of 3,041 pounds 8 ounces. Only 13 limits were taken, Martin accounting for three of them.

Another interesting fact about this event was Tom Mann became the second angler in the history of B.A.S.S. to win an event “from first cast to last.” Who was the first angler to win wire-to-wire?

 

 

Bass Master Florida National Kissimmee Chain Scorecard, March 9-11, 1972
Place
Angler, State
Total Weight, lbs-ozs
1
Tom Mann, AL
47-15
2
Roland Martin, OK
46-14
3
Shorty Evans, MO
43-00
4
Bill Dance, TN
39-02
5
Hoyett Ingle, FL
37-06
6
Dennis Demo, TN
36-14
7
Ed Todtenbier, LSA
31-05
8
Drew Reese, MO
30-11
9
Clyde Didier, LA
29-00
10
Mike Ellsworth, FL
28-03
11
Ernest Neil, MS
26-05
12
Fred Willis, IN
25-05
13
Gerald Blanchard, TN
24-08
14
Carlos Mayo, AR
24-02
15
Bill Byrd, GA
24-02
16
Ray Gresham, AL
23-13
17
George E. Martin, FL
23-03
18
Jack Ball, TN
22-08
19
Curtis Henderson, FL
21-14
20
Monroe Tidwell, AL
21-08
21
Lloyd McEntire, IN
21-04
22
Bill Powell, VA
20-11
23
Bob Honaker, LA
20-01
24
Jim Patterson, AL
19-04
25
Pete Nosser, MS
19-03
26
John Powell, AL
18-09
27
Lauren Becker, TX
18-09
28
Emmitt Chiles, AR
18-07
29
Larry Blakey, AL
17-12
30
Billy Westmorland, TN
17-09
31
Butch Stevenson, OK
17-07
32
Gary Chesser, IN
17-06
33
Cleon Jackson, FL
17-06
34
Billy J. Woods, TX
17-05
35 (tie)
Tommy Swindle, MS
16-14
35 (tie)
Joe Wilson, FL
16-14

Lake Keowee

Glin Wells. Photo Bass Master Magazine Jul/Aug 1972.

The South Carolina National was held in April on Keowee and judging from the practice session, the anglers felt this one was for the record books. There were reports of anglers catching double-digit fish and limits (10 fish) that went 40 pounds or more. Then the weather hit.

Out of the 156 anglers present for the event, 69 of them blanked on the first day and by the end, 28 still hadn’t weighed a fish. Tennessean, Glen Wells, ended up winning the event with 10 bass weighing a paltry 28-10 – at the time, a record for the lowest winning weight for any Bass Master event. He reported catching all of his fish on a six-inch blue plastic worm.

Tom Mann weighed in 24-06 and took second-place honors while Bill Dance weighed in 23-03 for third place. Dance also had the only limit of the event, 10 fish for 12-07. Roland Martin finished in the fourth spot with 20-02.

Looking at the top four spots for the first two events we see some familiar names – Dance, Martin and Mann. The 1972 season was shaping up to be a three horse race.

Gerald Blanchard won big fish for the second event in a row, this time with an 8-11 largemouth.

 

 

Bass Master South Carolina National Lake Keowee Scorecard, April 13-15, 1972
Place
Angler, State
Total Weight, lbs-ozs
1
Glin Wells, TN
28-10
2
Tom Mann, AL
24-06
3
Bill Dance, TN
23-03
4
Roland Martin, OK
20-02
5
George Milstead, AL
19-06
6
Hubert Greene, NC
19-03
7
John(ny) Morris, MO
19-01
8
Billy Westmorland, TN
19-00
9
Blake Honeycutt, NC
18-13
10
John Powell, AL
18-07
11
Walter Cole, GA
17-11
12
Forrest Wood, AR
16-13
13
Lee McKinney, GA
16-13
14
Bill Powell, VA
16-12
15
Pete Henson, GA
15-13
16
George Oates, FL
15-08
17
Dick Gregory, VA
15-02
18
Shy Powell, GA
14-14
19
Jim Harter, SC
14-09
20
Charlie LeFevor, TN
14-00
21
Dwayne Hickson, TN
12-10
22
Dean Horne, MS
12-00
23
Gerald Blanchard, TN
11-15
24
Junior Collis, GA
11-09
25
Curtis Henderson, FL
11-00
26
Billy J. Woods, TX
10-13
27
Brian Henderson, SC
10-12
28
Perk Perkins, SC
10-11
29
Emmett Chiles, AR
10-07
30
Raymond Hicks, GA
10-06
31
Charles Chilcutt, TN
10-02
32
Nebert Hestand, KY
10-00
33
Cecil Walters, GA
9-15
34
Bill Miller, SC
9-12
35
Fred VanHorn, IL
9-10

 

Lake Ouachita

In May the anglers headed to Arkansas for the Arkansas National held on Lake Ouachita. Of the 159 anglers present, 39 limits (10-fish) were scored. Bobby Murray, the 1971 Classic Champion, won the event by weighing his best limit for the event the last day (17-12) for a total of 48-06. His last-day heroics moved him from the third spot, just nudging out Roland Martin (46-13). The remainder of the top 5 were: Joe Wilson (44-09), Smallmouth legend Billy Westmorland (42-02) and Tom Mann. Missing from the top 5 was Bill Dance who finished the event in 36th place – one spot out of the money and points.

Most contestants reported catching a majority of their fish on plastic worms and Murray said he caught his fish on 5-inch plastics and a Cotton Cordell “8-inch Boy Howdy” topwater bait.

Another interesting caveat that happened at the event is something tournament anglers today take for granted. Murray reported that a lot of his fellow competitors “wore out their fishing spots.”

Here’s what he said.

“I had fish located in five areas and didn’t wear any spot out. I believe this helped. Some of the guys just wore out their fishing spots, catching 30 to 40 fish a day. In the finals they ran out of fish.”

Today’s tournament angler would never think to stick so many fish in a single area during an event unless they had backup. Murray was a pretty savvy angler back then.

Another interesting thing about the Ouachita event was never before had a local angler won an event on his home water. Bobby Murray broke that “home waters jinx” as Bob Cobb put it back then.

“Fishing a national tournament on your home lake is just tougher, Murray said. “Nostalgia is your biggest problem in fishing a contest on your home lake. You tend to stop at spots where you’ve caught good string of fish in the past and often when the bass won’t hit there you stay too long, wasting valuable time.”

Nothing could be further from the truth still today.

Now, after three events of the 1972 season, Martin and Mann have finished in the top 5 each event. Now it’s starting to look like a two-horse race for the Bass Master AOY award.

The Ouachita Scorecard and Angler of the Year race are shown in the tables below.

Part Two of this series will cover the following three events of the year while Part Three will cover the 1972 Bass Master Classic.

 

Bass Master Arkansas National Lake Ouachita Scorecard, May 18-20, 1970
Place
Angler, State
Total Weight, lbs-ozs
1
Bobby Murray, AR
48-06
2
Roland Martin, OK
46-13
3
Joe Wilson, AR
44-09
4
Billy Westmorland, TN
42-02
5
Tom Mann, AL
39-09
6
Carlos Mayo, AR
38-13
7
Glin Wells, TN
38-08
8
Bill J. Woods, TX
36-04
9
Forrest Wood, AR
35-15
10
Pete Nosser, MS
34-11
11
Dwight Keefer, MO
33-09
12
John Morton, AR
33-04
13
David Lockhart, AL
33-03
14
Don Butler, OK
31-14
15
Don Siebert, OK
31-12
16
Bill Keener, AR
31-11
17
Shorty Evans, MO
31-10
18
John(ny) Morris, MO
31-05
19
Erwin Cole, TN
30-15
20
Jim Finley, MO
30-12
21
Troy Anderson, AR
30-10
22
Gerald Blanchard, TN
30-04
23
Jim Harrod, AR
29-14
24
Art LaBauff, OK
29-05
25
Pete Henson, GA
29-01
26
Junior Collis, GA
29-00
27
Chuck Ray, AR
28-12
28
George Oates, FL
27-11
29
Weldon Wilkerson, MO
26-06
30
Howard Holmes, MO
26-03
31
Robert Schultz, MO
25-07
32
John Boley, AR
24-11
33
J. O. Brooks, AR
24-11
34
Ricky Green, AR
24-01
35
Rayo Breckenridge, AR
24-00

 

Bass Master Angler of the Year Points Race Midway Through 1972 Season
Place
Angler
Total Points
1
Roland Martin
100
2
Tom Mann
100
3
Billy Westmorland
66
4
Bill Dance
65
5
Glin Wells
64
6
Carlos Mayo
52
7
Shorty Evans
52
8
Forrest Wood
51
9
Gerald Blanchard
50
10
Johnny Morris
47
11
Billy Woods
40
12
Pete Nosser
37
13
Bill Powell
36
14
John Powell
36
15
Bobby Murray
35
16
Joe Wilson
34
17
Pete Henson
32
18
George Milstead
31
19
Hoyett INgle
31
20
Dennis Demo
30
21
Hubert Greene
30
22
Ed Todtenbier
29
23
Curtis Henderson
28
24
Drew Reese
28
25
George Oates
28
26
Blake Honeycutt
27
27
Clyde Didier
27
28
Mike Ellsworth
26
29
Dwight Keefer
25
30
Ernest Neil
25
31
Walter Cole
25
32
Fred Willis
24
33
John Morton
24
34
David Lockhart
23
35
Lee McKinney
23

Part Two of this series will cover the following three events of the year while Part Three will cover the 1972 Bass Master Classic.