Bass Fishing Legend Ray Scott to be Honored
CELEBRATION, Fla. - Ray Wilson Scott, Jr. did not invent bass fishing, but for millions of avid anglers all around the world, he might as well have.
Scott was a Montgomery, Ala., insurance salesman on a business trip to Jackson, Miss., on March 11, 1967, when the idea for professional bass fishing struck him. He was watching a basketball game in his motel room when he started to wonder why competitive fishing wasn't on television like baseball, basketball and football.
"In a microsecond I saw it all," Scott recalled in his biography, BASS Boss. "I saw a hundred bass fishermen competing, tournament-style. It just came to me. I knew it would work."
Later that year, Scott conducted the first modern bass tournament, the All-American on Arkansas' Beaver Lake, June 5-7, 1967. A year after that, Scott created the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society.
That he founded BASS and created the modern tournament format would have been enough to cement Scott's place in fishing history, but he was just getting started.
In the early 1970s, Scott and other BASS pioneers formed the BASS Chapter Federation, a group of BASS-affiliated clubs across the country and the world. These anglers were the grass roots of BASS and have been instrumental in effecting positive change through legislation, activism and local conservation and youth projects.
In 1972, Scott brought catch-and-release to bass tournaments with his "Don't Kill Your Catch" program. Over the years, it has caught on around the world. Because of Scott's vision of the sport, bass are considered a renewable resource.
In the mid-70s, Scott and BASS began working for the passage of the Sport Fishing Restoration Act, also known as Wallop-Breaux. Signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, the act established a federal excise tax on fishing and boating equipment with proceeds used for restoration and access programs by state fisheries agencies.
In 1986, Scott sold BASS to a group of investors, but he has continued to serve as a spokesman and ambassador for the organization. His tireless devotion to sportfishing, conservation, youth and the multibillion dollar industry he helped to create serves as an inspiration to all who know him.
Apart from his induction into numerous fishing and sporting halls of fame, Scott has been named one of the 20 greatest outdoor Americans of the 20th century. There's no doubt that he's been the most influential person in BASS and the world of bass fishing.