Between 1983 and 1984 B.A.S.S. visited the St. Johns River and Palatka three times. As it goes with B.A.S.S. history the anglers went searching for, and found, yet another hidden lure treasure. It was the Gator Tail Worm, made by Bobby Ditto in nearby San Mateo. The wide ribbed worm featured an equally as wide flat ribbon tail. The worm produced impressive catches at the St. Johns events and the pros took note. Soon, Gator Tail Worms were being used elsewhere to win or place high in B.A.S.S. events. You know where this story is going.
I know firsthand because in those days I worked for Ranger Boats and Forrest Wood, who dispatched me to Ditto Manufacturing to build a stash of the prized worms for his use. They were everywhere and I can remember filing boxes of the worms to take back to Arkansas for my boss.
Fast forward to today. What Gator Tail Worms remain hidden away in stashes of anglers still see use when the occasion calls for them. In play this week is the stash of Gator Tail Worms hoarded by Rick Clunn.
“I have a few hundred bags left but my supply is dwindling,” he said. “I don’t use them anywhere else but when we come here.”
For sure this week, as Clunn is using a 7-inch Gator Tail rigged with a 5/0 hook and 1/2-ounce weight, pitching the Texas rig around boat docks, just as he likely did right here in the 1980s.
“It’s really a confidence bait that I used with great success in those tournaments,” he explained. “What’s funny is what’s stuck in my mind was how bass don’t like gators.”
Or vise versa. Clunn happened upon a small alligator lounging on a laydown log that slipped into the brackish water as he approached. A flip to the log produced a 5 pounder on Thursday that helped paved the way for where he is today.