History Of The Bass Anglers Sportsmans Society
The Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) is a fishing membership organization with more than a half a million members. It is geared toward bass fishermen, mainly in the United States but with members located worldwide. The society publishes Bassmaster magazine and other related publications, and also produces The Bassmasters weekly television program. B.A.S.S. is best known for the sport fishing tournament trails it sponsors, and for the championship event of its primary series, the Bassmaster Classic. The society’s logo is a blue shield with a leaping largemouth bass and the society’s acronym, as seen in the image at right.
In 1967, Ray Scott of Montgomery, Alabama launched the concept of competitive bass fishing by forming the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society. In late 2010, Alabama businessmen Don Logan and Jim Copeland plus veteran broadcaster Jerry McKinnis formed an ownership group to purchase the organization from ESPN. In 2011, the new owners relocated B.A.S.S. headquarters from Celebration, Florida, to Birmingham, Alabama.
The first ever B.A.S.S. Federation tournament was held in June 1967 on Beaver Lake, Arkansas. A total of 106 anglers from thirteen different states competed. In that All-American Bass Tournament, Scott charged a $100 entry fee with a chance to win $2,000 and a trip to Acapulco, Mexico. The winner of this first tournament was Stan Sloan.
Scott staged the first Bassmaster Classic in 1971 at Lake Mead, Nevada — though competitors didn’t know the location until they were in an aircraft bound for Las Vegas. The “mystery lake” practice continued through 1976; the following year Scott announced the venue in advance so that fans could make plans to attend the event. Since then, the final weigh-in events, and fishing expositions held together with those events, have become huge spectator events filling large arenas and being broadcast live on ESPN.
B.A.S.S Federations Sponsors Several Tournaments And Series
The Bassmaster Classic is considered the “Super Bowl” of fishing. This world championship event is held once every year and has become a fan favorite. This tournament has a first place prize of $300,000 USD.
Bassmaster Elite Series
This series has a total of eight regular season events and two AOY fish offs with a total of $11 million to give away in prizes. This makes up bass fishing’s most competitive lucrative league. This series schedule runs from coast to coast through all phases of the seasons of bass fishing.
This series sets a platform for amateur anglers to emerge as aspiring pros. Both boaters and non-boaters compete in the Bassmaster Opens, which provides advancement to the Bassmaster Elite Series. Also, an automatic entry to the next years Bassmaster Classic is awarded to the winner of each Bassmaster Open event however in addition they must fish all three Open events in their division to qualify.
Women’s Bassmaster Tour
This tour is presented by Triton Boats. The winner of each WBT takes home a fully rigged Triton boat valued at $50,000. The total payout for the whole season is totaled at more than $640,000.
Formerly the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, the name was changed to B.A.S.S. Nation at the beginning of the 2013 season. B.A.S.S. Nation is composed of bass tournament clubs throughout the country. They provide the opportunity for anglers to compete in bass tournaments at a local level as well as different state and national tournaments culminating in the opportunity to fish the Bassmaster Classic.
The Mission Of The Bass Anglers Sportsman’s Society
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Since 1968, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to enhancing the sport of bass fishing by advocating for access, conservation and youth fishing.
Overview of the BASS Organization
No one could have predicted that the 106 fishermen competing in Ray Scott’s first tournament in 1967 would one day turn into a membership organization more than half a million strong. It would have been just as impossible to predict that the B.A.S.S. newsletter, first distributed in 1968, would evolve into Bassmaster Magazine, the bible of today’s bass fisherman — but it happened. B.A.S.S., born and raised in Montgomery, Ala., was founded by Ray Scott with simple goals in mind: to create a credible and honorable tournament trail, to improve our environment by uniting and amplifying the voices of anglers and to secure a future for our youth. In the past four decades B.A.S.S. has met all these goals and more. It would take volumes to list the accomplishments of B.A.S.S. over the years, but two may be most significant. In 1972, B.A.S.S. initiated a “Don’t Kill Your Catch” program that evolved into the modern “catch-and-release” ethic now practiced by nearly all bass anglers.
The BASS Begins Promoting And Televising Tournaments
In 1984, B.A.S.S. lobbied Congress in support of the Wallop-Breaux amendment to the Sport Fish Restoration Act, which generates more than $600 million annually for state fisheries. B.A.S.S., the focal point of what has grown into a multibillion-dollar fishing industry, has created a publishing giant with Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times. B.A.S.S. produces The Bassmasters television program which airs on ESPN2, the Bassmaster Tournament Trail and the Bassmaster Classic, recognized around the globe as fishing’s world championship. The first Classic, held on Lake Mead near Las Vegas, Nev., awarded a winner-take-all paycheck of $10,000 and was witnessed by a straggling handful of spectators.
Today, tens of thousands of people cram into coliseums to watch the daily weigh-ins, and $1,000,000 is awarded to the anglers — $300,000 of which goes to the champion. Since 1968, B.A.S.S. has been active in local, state and national conservation issues.
Many of our original goals were directed toward protection of our natural resources. All of these goals were established prior to the time the Clean Water, Clean Air and Endangered Species acts were passed by Congress and before most of America’s fisheries management scientists had even acknowledged that black bass could be overharvested or stockpiled by practicing catch-and-release strategies.
Since 1968, groups of bass fishermen throughout the United States and the world have joined to create grass roots B.A.S.S. clubs with one common goal — to learn how to become better bass fishermen. This is just one of the many benefits the B.A.S.S. Nation offers its more than 20,000 members.
BASS Initiates State Federations Called BASS Nation
Realizing that a collection of chapters could accomplish more and have a stronger voice on issues that affect the future and preservation of bass fishing, B.A.S.S. decided to unite them. In 1972, B.A.S.S. installed 19 state federations and so began our B.A.S.S. Nation program. There are currently B.A.S.S. Nation clubs in 46 of the United States plus organizations in Canada, Mexico, Italy, Japan, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Contact B.A.S.S. today (877-BASS USA) to let us know if you are interested in volunteering to support the Bassmaster Tournament Trail, Youth events or Conservation initiatives in your area.