We are a local Bass Club in the Los Angeles County area of Southern California
THE MAKING OF THE CALIFORNIA BASS CONTENDERS CLUB
“THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY”
It was back sometime in the late 1970’s to early 1980’s when a bunch of guys started fishing together on and off that they decided they would have some fun and do a little competition father and son style. Well this group of happy go lucky father and son anglers had such a good time, they decided to do it again and again and again. Before you knew it they had formed a small group of guys that were regulars so they decided to call them selves the Fontana Bass Club. They met a few times in Fontana and eventually moved their monthly meetings to a tackle shop called the “Fishin Hole” in Covina owned by Steve Osbourne. There was a young boy by the name of Conrad Apodaca Jr who worked after school and on weekends. This is where Conrad Jr learned most of his foul language arts and how to lie and exaggerate by listening in to all the meetings. In 1989 Conrad Jr joined the club and that same year became the first non-boater to win Angler of the year at the ripe young age of 15. Sometime shortly after the “Fishin Hole” relocated and moved, so the Club moved next door to a pizza place. This move worked out pretty well considering that at that time the Club was growing and they could drink and eat and meet all at the same time. The Club continued meeting there for some time and continued to grow. A panel of board members had already been formed to run the club. After several years the meetings started to take a turn in the wrong direction and by sometime around early 1990’s it started to become apparent to many that this group of anglers were not going to make it for the long haul. Many times the meetings would last well past 10:00pm and would be nothing more than one big ugly unorganized argument. There was actually some physical pushing and shoving and yelling at meetings and tournaments. This sort of thing had been going on for quite a few years. It got to the point that clicks were formed and arguing was a normal part of every meeting itinerary. It seemed that the club that had been birthed to promote friendship and brotherhood had gotten too big and completely out of control.
One particular evening in 1993 the club had certain issues that it’s long time President Gabby Hayes found no solution too, so right there on the spot Gabby quit and walked out. He had had it, quite a few of the core members and good friends of Gabby Hayes ran out after him in the parking lot to talk him into staying. Instead, they decided together that evening in the parking lot to start their own group of anglers minus all the headaches and all the bickering and all the ridiculous problems. This new group of guys was going to call themselves the California Bass Contenders Club. The original founding members of this group was Gabby Hayes, Conrad Apodaca Sr., Lonnie L, Ted Romero, Joe Nava, Earl Ledger, Al Daly, Terry Mcgee, Daryl Canter and Bob Barone. The first meeting was held at Gabby’s house and that is when they discussed the vision for this club. They said that as long as those founding members were still around they would not let this club get out of hand ever again. They set down a list of rules and guidelines that they wanted to follow and those rules later became our by-laws. Some of the longtime members that came on early in the life of the Bass Contenders are still fishing with us today are Ted Romero, Joe Nava, Mike Martin, Brian Mlekush, Art Snook, Ron Janke, Gil Bowman and Nick Shott.
It all made a lot of common sense. A good bunch of guys fishing and telling stories and making up a few lies to make it sound better. At the following meeting bass catching techniques were shared and that helped the group a whole bunch. Sharing bass catching techniques became to be the hallmark and root of the club moving forward. That is basically the reason this club exists. “To promote brotherhood and friendship” and to share techniques to help everybody become a better angler. As I interviewed some of the active current founding members I was quite surprised to find they all had one very unique identical comment to make. They had noticed that things had changed and shifted with so much secrecy about fish catching techniques. For years there wasn’t a person who would share their techniques and patterns with another. As we all hope that is not the case today… as we have escaped those barriers that once held us captive. We all wanted to lay aside the vicious instinct to win at any cost and to preserve the camaraderie and friendship that this club was founded on “To promote brotherhood and friendship”.
The size of the membership was also a concern of the early founding members. In the by-laws that were adopted the first year of the club the membership was to be open to 40 active members, not to exceed 20 non-boaters. The idea behind limiting the membership was so those things would not get out of hand as they did in the old days. We currently are slightly boater heavy, any new members after April 2005 must compete as non-boaters. First time boaters will be allowed in a tournament when there are one or more non-boaters than boaters. When a member has participated in one tournament as a boater once, he then can always participate as a boater thereafter. Any changes to our current set of by-laws can be voted on at any regular meeting provided that the proposed amendment has been presented to the membership at least one regular meeting prior to the vote. A 2/3 majority vote by members present and a 90% vote of active founding members is required to change any of the current rules or regulations of the California Bass Contenders Club.