Original Caption: "Dean Starkey, Peru, and his wife, Brenda, sit in the Ranger bass boat he received last Sunday for his victory in the Indiana BASS Classic at Mississinewa Reservoir. Presenting the keys to the boat is Forrest Wood, manufacturer of Ranger boats. At far left is Joe Landwerlen, Shelbyville, tournament director of the sponsoring Indiana Bass Federation, while Federation president Ed Danforth is at the right." October 1980, The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, IN. No photo credit.

There’s a lot of history to unpack in today’s historical photo which dates back to 1980. At the center of the picture is Dean Starkey, winner of that year’s Indiana BASS Federation Classic. A 28-year-old welder at Grissom Air Force Base at the time, that win garnered him “a Ranger Bass Boat, a Ranger Trail Trailer and a Johnson 85 horsepower outboard motor and some other gear which was valued at nearly $11,000.”

This win preceded what is likely the more familiar accomplishment of Starky’s, that being the first winner of the Redman All-American back in 1983 and its $50,000 prize at the time. Dean would later go on to win the All-American a second time in 1994, picking up another $100,000 for his efforts.

Then, there is Forrest Wood presenting the keys to the package, back at a time when the Indiana BASS Federation was the largest state level Federation of the B.A.S.S. empire in the country, and Forrest was one of the most recognized icons in the industry. We also had some great regional Ranger reps at the time in guys like Mike James and Mike McDonald.

Joe Landwerlen might be a little less familiar to readers. Besides being an instrumental figure in the history of the Indiana BASS Chapter, he was also president of Gator Grip. Gator Grip manufactured the Golden Rule tournament culling board that was likely within most every bass tournament boat in the country at the time. They also made the Gator Grip power handle, which could be swapped onto your typical baitcaster of the day to give you more torque for reeling in the hawgs (see Ed Danforth’s hat in pic). I believe we have an old post or two you can probably search the site for more information in that regard.