Bass Fishing Legend Bill Dance Inducted Into Fishing Hall of Fame
DANIA BEACH, Fla. --- Bass fishing legend Bill Dance was one of five men inducted into the 2006 class of the International Game Fish Association Fishing Hall of Fame.
The eighth annual IGFA class also included big game fisherman John W. "Jack" Anderson II, New Zealand sportsman Charles Alma Baker, oceanographer Milton C. Shedd and Japanese conservationist Hidenori Onishi.
The star-studded enshrinement ceremony and dinner, sponsored by Rolex, was held October 24, at the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum in Dania Beach, Fla.
The five men were selected for the important contributions they have made to the sport of fishing through angling achievements, literature, the arts, science, education, invention, communication or administration of fishery resources.
Dance became one of the first full-time bass pros and was credited with catching the first bass in IGFA Hall of Famer Ray Scott's 1967 All-American Bass Tournament (the forerunner to today's Bassmaster Tournament Trail), He went on to win eight BASS tournaments between 1968 and 1970, and is the recipient of three BASS "Angler of the Year" titles.
He was introduced by Hall of Famer Roland Martin who said Dance is a born entertainer. "I idolized Bill," said Martin presenting comical out-takes from Bill's television show, Bill Dance Outdoors, which has aired 2,000 shows over 38 years.
In his speech Dance said "I love catching catfish, crappie, northern pike and muskie but my all time favorite fish are bass, smallmouth and large. Of all the honors I've received this has got be the top."
He said he was thankful to be included with good friends and late hall of fame legends Curt Gowdy and Lee Wulff as well as Martin, Scott, Mark Sosin and Johnny Morris. Thanking his father and grandfather for teaching him how to fish, Dance told a story of how, when catching his first bass, he dropped the rod and pulled in the fish by hand. He added that his greatest thrill in life has been watching his children catch their first fish.
Bill -- in his jeans, sneakers, polo shirt, sunglasses and trademark University of Tennessee baseball cap (but not at his induction) -- is one of fishing's most recognizable icons and one of sport fishing's most outstanding ambassadors. He's continues to share his knowledge in seven books, articles in major outdoor magazines, and more than 36 videos, including three popular blooper shows. Bill is an idol to millions of anglers; the perfect fishing buddy. He's been described as off-beat, humble and charming, as good with people as he is with fish. He said, as he did in a chapter profiling him in a book The Fishing Club written by Bob Rich Jr., that fishing has been his life, that's afforded him the opportunity to meet the greatest people -- other fishermen and that fishing is a spiritual thing that brings the people who do it closer together. Dance and his wife Diane live in the Memphis, Tenn., area.
The other inductees and their contributions were:
John "Jack" W. Anderson II
fished for virtually all species all over the world, including black marlin over 1,000 lb and bluefin tuna, swordfish and blue marlin over 700 lb. For five years he was a member of the U.S. Team at the International Tuna Cup Matches. An IGFA Trustee since 1976, Anderson served on the Advisory Committee that was instrumental in making the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum a reality. He resides in Palm Beach, Fla.
Charles Alma Baker:
It was Charles Alma Baker, a businessman and pioneer big-game angler in New Zealand, who persuaded Zane Grey to visit the country in 1926. The subsequently-published account of this trip, Tales of the Angler's Eldorado New Zealand, described the wonderful fishing opportunities available in the country. Baker had a keen interest in tackle and worked with Hardy Brothers to design the first two-speed reel. He passed away in 1941.
One of the founders of the Japan Game Fish Association in 1979, Hank Onishi was JGFA Chairman until his death in 1998. A vocal proponent of billfish conservation, he helped inaugurate JGFA's successful tag-and-release program in 1985. He is also recognized for popularizing the use of bird teasers. Onishi devoted many years to IGFA, as a Representative and as a member of the Board of Trustees.
Milton C. Shedd:
Milt Shedd was a leading oceanographer, a lifelong conservationist, and one of the first anglers to participate in tagging studies. He also pioneered live-bait casting for marlin, co-founded Sea World, helped create the UCLA Marine Science Center, and in the early 1970s started the white seabass hatchery program. In 1973 Shedd purchased AFTCO Manufacturing Company, today a leading manufacturer of tackle and apparel. He passed away in 2002.
There are currently 60 Hall of Fame members enshrined including Ernest Hemingway, Zane Grey, Curt Gowdy, Ted Williams, Lee Wulff, Michael and Helen Lerner and Philip Wylie.
The evening included a cocktail reception, silent auction, dinner and the induction ceremony.
Founded in 1939, the IGFA is a not-for-profit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule making and record keeping. IGFA members are located in over 125 countries and territories. The IGFA welcomes visitors to its 60,000-sq.ft .interactive Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum headquartered in Dania Beach, Fla. The IGFA web site can be found at www.igfa.org.