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Bass History - A Chronological View


Bass History - A Chronological View Bass History - A Chronological View

World Record Bass
Approximately two miles from this spot, on June 2, 1932, George W. Perry, a 19-year old farm boy, caught was to become America's most famous fish. The twenty-two pound four ounce largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoldes) exceeded the existing record by more than two pounds has has retained the world record for more than fifty years. Perry and his friend, J.E. Page, were fishing in Montgomery Lake, a slough off the Ocmulgee River, not for trophies but to bring food to the table during those days of the great depression. The fish was caught on a Creek Chub Perch Scale Wigglefish, Perry's only lure, and was 32 1/2 inches in length and 28 1/2 inches in girth. The weight and measurements were taken, recorded and notarized in Helena, Georgia and Perry's only reward was seventy-five dollars in merchandise as first prize in Field and Stream Magazine's fishing contest. The longstanding record is one of the reasons that the largemouth bass was made Georgia's Official State Fish. Montgomery Lake is today part of the Department of natural Resources' Horse Creek Wildlife Management Area.

Bass History

1770: British reel maker Onesimus Ustonson advertises the first multiplying reels, forerunners of today's baitcasters.

1791: Naturalist William Bartram writes an account of Indians in the American South catching largemouth bass with a "bob" and long pole in 1760. This is apparently the earliest reference not only to American bass fishing but also to fishing with hair bugs.

1881: Dr. James Henshall, in his "Book of the Black Bass", extols the virtues of a then largely overlooked family of gamefish-and declares the smallmouth bass "inch for inch and pound for pound, the gamest fish that swims."

1897: William Shakespeare Jr. patents a levelwind device for baitcasting reels, making their use easier and more popular.

1902: Inspired by watching a bass engulf a floating stick he'd whittled and tossed into the mill pond on Michigan's Dowagiac Creek, James Heddon receives his Fish-Bait patent for a floating wooden lure carved from a barrel bung, or plug.

1909: Ole Evinrude introduces his 1.5-horsepower "coffe grinder," which becomes the first commercially successful outboard.

1910: The Creek Chub Bait Co. offers the Creek Chub Wiggler, the first plug with a metal diving lip to make the lure wiggle when retrieved. A later version, the Wiggle Fish, hooks George Perry's world-record largemouth.

1915 The William J. Jamison Co. introduces the Shannon Twin Spinner, a gaudy lure of red feathers, white bucktail, and two blades attached to a wire weedguard-the forerunner of today's spinnerbaits.

1920: When fishing Jordan Lake in Wisconsin and finding no natural frogs to use as bait, Alan P. Jones and Urban Schreiner head to the Oxford butcher shop, pick up some pork back fat, and carve the first pork frogs. Two years later, they form the Uncle Josh Bait Co.

1932: Franklin D. Roosevelt creates the Tennessee Valley Authority and sparks the beginning of America's dam-building era, during which thousands of new reservoirs across the country are stocked with bass.

1932: George Perry catches the still-standing world-record 22-pound 4-ounce largemouth bass from Montgomery Lake in Georgia.

1934: Fred Arbogast carves his first Jitterbug.

1937: DuPont files patent for nylon, which later spawns nylon monofilament fishing line.

1938: Spinning reels are introduced in the U.S. and, along with nylon monofilament, make cast-and-retrieve fishing infinitely easier for the average bass angler.

1948: Skeeter builds a boat designed specifically for bass fishing, thus launching a new category of fishing craft.

1949: Fiberglass rods are introduced and quickly replace bamboo.

1949: Nick and Cosma Creme of Akron, Ohio, melt plastic on their kitchen stove, pour it into molds, and create the first modern soft-plastic worm- the Creme Wiggle Worm.

1950: The Dingell-Johnson Fish Restoration Act is passed, placing excise taxes on fishing equipment. In 1984, the Wallop-Breaux amendment passes. To date, this legislation, now called the Sportfish Restoration Act, has put more tham $3 billion into state fisheries programs.

1954: The Zero Hour Bomb Co.. (now Zebco) makes cast-and-retrieve fishing virtually foolproof with the introduction of the first closed-face spincasting reel.

1955: David L, Hayes catches an 11-pound 15-ounce world-record smallmouth bass from Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee. The Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame disqualified the record in 1996 because of allegations that the fish was stuffed with 3 pounds of lead and motor parts but reinstated Hayes' catch in 1999.

1955: Outdoor writer Earl Golding holds what is now widely considered the first ever organized bass tournament, the Texas State Bass Tournament on Lake Whitney, Texas; 73 anglers participate.

1957: Carl Lowrance introduces the first portable sonar units for anglers, capable of detecting both bottom and individual fish.

1959: More than 20,000 Florida-strain largemouths are stocked in California's Upper Otay Lake, and through a combination of creel limits, season dates, and plenty of hatchery rainbow trout for forage, California creates a big-bass program. Today, 21 of the top 25 bass on record come from California.

1960: The non-native weed hydrilla is discovered at two locations in Florida and quickly spreads. Now found throughout the southern half of the country and beyond, it has dramatically changed bass habitat and the way we fishy for bass.

1967: Tom Mann introduces the Jelly Worm, which today remains the best selling plastic worm ever.

1967: Ray Scott hosts his first fishing tournament, the All-American Invitational, at Beaver Lake, Arkansas, and announces that bass fishing will become a major-league sport. Bill Dance catches the first fish, a 2-pounder within a minute of the starting gun. Stan Sloan win the grand prize: $2,000 and a trip to Acapulco.

1968: Ray Scott creates the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) to organize American bass anglers, promote bass tournaments, support fisheries management, and elevate the sport. B.A.S.S. membership has since grown from a little over 100 anglers in its first year to more than 600,000 anglers today.

1968: Bill Dance hosts the first telvised series dedicated to bass fishing, Bill Dance Outdoors, on the ABC affiliate in Memphis.

1971: John Morris borrows $10,000 from his father and stocks a few shelves of the family liquor store with bass tackle. Three years later, he mails the first Bass Pro Shops catalog.

1972: Within two days of each other, Fenwick and Shakespeare introduce the countries first graphite fishing rods. Graphite quickly replaces fiberglass.

1972: Inspired by trout anglers at o Federation of Fly Fishermen event in Aspen, Colorado, Ray Scott starts the "Don't Kill Your Catch" program. The Florida National of Kissimmee Chain of Lakes becomes the first catch-and-release B.A.S.S. tournament.

1972: Mister Twister adds a new twist to soft-tailed plastic baits with introduction of its Curly Tailed Grub.

1973: Don Butler files patent for the first live wells for bass boats.

1975: Dee Thomas popularizes flippin' by using the casting technique to win the Arkansas Invitational bass tournament at Bull Shoals Reservoir. Pro angler Tommy Biffle later extends flippin' into pitchin'.

1980: Jimmy Houston kisses his first bass, according to wife Chris Houston, wh says she's gotten used to the fishy smell.

1985: Blass bass overtake panfish as America's most popular sportfish, according to the 1985 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation, published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

1987: Working from his garage, Herb Reed creates a new category of bass lure- the soft stickbait- as his company, Lunker City Fishing Specialties, introduces the Slug-Co.

1990: Berkley introduces Power Worms, with chemical additives designed to make bass hold on to the lure longer.

1992: Larry Nixon becomes the first pro angler to earn over $1 million in B.A.S.S. events.

1996: Cable station ESPN combines with Irwin L. Jacobs, Operation Bass Inc., and J.M. Associates to launch the FLW Tour, named after Forest L. Wood of Ranger Boats. A year later, Wal-Mart becomes the primary spomsor, opening the door to other corporations outside the fishing industry, including Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, and General Mills (Wheaties). Close television coverage, large corporate sponsorships, and huge purses ( the 1997 tour featured $3.1 million in prizes, by far the most at the time.) make the tour a raving success.

1998: Pro bass fisherman Denny Brauer is pictured on a Wheaties cereal box, the first angler ever featured there. (PETA demands, in vain, that General Mills pull the boxes, arguing that "Anglers have no place next to real sportsman like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.")

2000: According to B.A.S.S., 30 million people fish for bass (24 million play golf; 17.3 million play tennis.) The annual impact of bass fishing on the U.S. economy is estimated to be between $50 billion and $70 billion

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Rick Reed | Posted: January 29, 2008

Very helpful. I've been trying to pinpoint the date of the first ever bass tournament. The article says it was in 1955 in Texas, but Leesburg Florida began hosting a national bass tournament for non-florida residents in 1928. I can send info if you are interested. Rick Reed, Curator, Leesburg Historical Museum, 352 435-9424