In the first issue of Bassmaster, Scott wrote: "It is my plan that we lift bass fishing up to public par with golf, bowling and pocket billiards. It's high time the public found out we exist."What follows is a look back at 35 of the events that had a profound impact on bass fishing and the growth of BASS:
The Chattanooga Bass Club becomes the first to affiliate with the BASS Chapter Federation, formed to address water pollution at the grass-roots level. The move also adds 19 anglers to a BASS membership consisting of only Oklahoman Don Butler.
Californian Rip Nunnery hauls his 98-pound, 15-ounce catch of 15 bass to the scales in the first round of the 1969 Eufaula (Ala.) National. Amazingly, he finishes third behind North Carolinian Blake Honeycutt, whose three day catch of 34 bass weighs a record-setting 138-6.
The BASS conservation movement begins when the organization takes 250 companies to court for allegedly violating the Federal Refuse Acts of 1899. Conservation remains at the forefront of the BASS mission statement, with a full-time staff devoted to dealing with the issues through the Federation network.Bill Dance wins the first BASS Angler-of-the-Year title. Thirty-three years later, the Busch BASS Angler-of-the-Year title will pay $100,000 to the winner, with a $1,000 bonus paid to the current points leader after each Tour event.
A jetliner leaves Atlanta Oct. 28 with 24 anglers for the first Bassmaster Classic, destination unknown. The plane reaches cruising altitude, and Ray Scott announces the destination is Las Vegas. At Lake Mead, Bobby Murray wins the first Classic and its $10,000-prize purse. The "mystery flights" end in 1977 to accommodate a growing following.
After contenders catch over a ton of bass from Sam Rayburn at the Texas National BASS Tournament, BASS launches its "Don't Kill Your Catch" campaign out of concern for the future of conserving bass populations. Innovative pros rig crude aerator systems fashioned from garden hoses and sprinklers to conform to the new catch-and-release rule.
Fenwick launches the fishing rod industry into the Space Age by introducing the Fenwick HMG (High Modulus Graphite), the first production-grade graphite rod.
Using a 7 ½-foot rod with precision accuracy to swing baits into tight cover, Californian Dee Thomas catches 35 pounds of bass from Arkansas' Bull Shoals Lake to win the Arkansas Invitational. He calls the technique flipping; the news is printed in Bassmaster, and the rest is history.
With mixed support from the marine industry, BASS lobbies successfully for the Wallop-Breaux Amendment to expand the federal Dingell-Johnson Act. Today, the amendment channels about $300 million annually to states for sportfishing projects, such as building boat ramps and enhancing fisheries.
Helen Sevier and a group of investors purchase BASS from founder Ray Scott, who remains as consultant and tournament emcee.Realizing The Bassmasters is a ratings hit, the concept of an exclusive made-for-TV tournament is launched as BASS MegaBucks. The event is held 16 times, with the current Showdown format mirrored after the original concept.
Larry Nixon becomes the first bass fisherman to earn $1 million in BASS prizes. Denny Brauer currently tops the list with $1.6 million.
Fisheries scientists confirm the presence of a virus of unknown causes at South Carolina's Santee Cooper lakes. The Largemouth Bass Virus (LMBV) has since spread westward, with top fisheries experts convening at the BASS-sponsored LMBV Workshop.
BASS launches its first Western Invitational trail to qualify anglers for the 1998 Classic. Consequently, California's Mark Tyler catches a 14-9 largemouth (in 1999) from the San Joaquin River that becomes the biggest bass caught in BASS tournament history.
Twenty-three years after he appears in In-Fisherman magazine for building an underwater "observation tower," electronics wizard Jeff Zernov introduces the Aqua-Vu, the first underwater viewing system.