Original Caption: THE LINEUP OF BASS CHAMPIONS – Here are the champions of the First State Bass Championship, which wound up on Lake Whitney Sunday. Kneeling in front are State Big-Bass Champ Conrad Fath of Austin, and State Team Champions Herman Findley and Ray Creel of Keene. Creel was also the State Individual Champ. Standing are the pluggers who took daily championships during the three qualifying rounds. Left to right are Jim Gentry of Dallas, Murray Deison of Round Rock, Billy Disch Jr. of Austin, Bob Hill of Austin, Dan Morgan of Waco, Earnest Burleson of Waco, Billy Joe Norris of Waco, and Tommy George of Waco. Creel won two state titles and a daily title. Fath took one state title and three daily titles, and Findley won one state title and a daily title. George won three daily titles. (Staff Photo by Clint Kapus.)

Some say that competitive bass fishing originated in the states of Alabama-Tennessee. That’s a difficult subject to argue when you consider the Bass Angler’s Sportsman Society has its roots deeply implanted in both Alabama and Tennessee. Some might also argue that Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri should be included due to Hy Peskin’s World Series of Sportfishing or Don Butler and the Tulsa Bassmasters. But it’s the state of Texas that deserves credit for the first known bass tournament.

Over the years, Texas has been a breeding ground for high-level bass anglers and famous bass waters. Reservoirs like Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn were ‘must-go’ destinations in the early 60s through early 70s. They were so important in those early years of tournament fishing that Ray Scott started making at least one of them a yearly stop on the fledgling B.A.S.S. tournament trail in 1968.

Anglers like Tommy Martin, Larry Nixon, Al Lindner, and Bobby Murray got their starts guiding on the fertile waters of Texas, when the lakes were new and full of five-pounders.  In fact, both Nixon and Lindner left their own home states of Missouri and Minnesota to chase the dream of a big Texas bass on every cast.

Because of Texas’ draw of anglers to the promise land of bass fishing, numerous tackle companies were born in the state or moved there to take advantage of the sales.  Bomber Lures, of Gainesville got its start in the 40s, and Nick and Cosma Creme’s, Creme Lure Company dug up their roots in Akron, OH for the fertile bass grounds of Tyler, TX. If it was bass-related, it was happening in Texas.

The other bass fishing related thing to come out of Texas is, of course, the Texas rigged plastic worm.  Said to have been developed by Texas guide Dave Hawk, the rig was first known as the Slip Sinker Rig, until someone finally pinned it with the name of where it was developed.

I have several bass fishing friends that hail from the Lone Star State and it’s very apparent that they hold a lot of pride in their state and its rich bass-fishing history.  One of those friends is Sam Scroggins.  A few years back we got on the conversation of early bass tournaments and Sam was proud to let me know the first state-sanctioned bass tournament was held in the state of Texas.  Due to that conversation, Sam sent me the lead-in picture from that event.

That tournament was the 1955 Central Texas Invitational, or as it would later be coined, the Texas State Bass Tournament, and it was held on Lake Whitney near Waco.  This year, 2022, marked the 66th anniversary of the event and again, it was held on Lake Whitney, where it all started back in 1955.

Past winners of the tournament who we’ve talked about on the Bass Fishing Archives include Ray and Mike Murski, Jackie Hewlett, and Dave Hawk, inventor of the Texas rig.