The Bassholes - It takes one to know one.

The History of B.A.S.S.
An Historical Timeline
on Friday 08 January 2010
by Bassmaster

The History of B.A.S.S.


  • In March, Ray Scott has the idea for the first modern bass tournament while watching a basketball game in a Jackson, Miss., motel room. He subsequently drafts the rules for competitive bass fishing to foster the ideals of ethical angling, conservation and safety. The same basic rules are used today all around the world.
  • In June, Scott conducts the All-American Bass Tournament on Beaver Lake, Ark., charging 106 anglers from 13 states a $100 entry fee. Stan Sloan wins the event and earns $2,000 cash and a trip to Acapulco.



  • Oklahoma's Don Butler becomes the first BASS member after paying Ray Scott $100 for a life membership.
  • In the spring, the first issue of Bassmaster Magazine is published.
  • BASS contestants are taught to rig a "kill switch."



  • Rip Nunnery brings in a 15-bass limit weighing 98 pounds, 15 ounces at the Eufaula (Ala.) National. It is the heaviest single day catch ever recorded in a BASS event.
  • In December, Bob Cobb takes office as the editor of Bassmaster Magazine, replacing Ray Scott.



  • In January, Roland Martin fishes his first BASS event, the Toledo Bend Invitational. He finishes second and begins one of the most impressive careers in professional fishing history. In his first 25 events, Martin wins 7 times, finishes second 8 times and never places lower than 16th.
  • In March, Martin claims the first of his 19 BASS wins at the Seminole Lunker event in Georgia.
  • Harold Sharp is hired by BASS to organize a country-wide seminar tour
  • Bill Dance becomes the first Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
  • Helen Sevier joins BASS to develop direct marketing efforts.
  • BASS has eight employees and 10,000 members.
  • Under the 1899 Refuse Act, BASS filed lawsuits naming over 200 polluters ranging from laundromats to large industries.
  • Bass Anglers for Clean Water is created, allowing concerned fishermen and BASS members to make tax-deductible contributions toward fishing related conservation causes.



  • Ranger Boat company burns to the ground in Flippin, Ark. Ray Scott gives Ranger owner Forrest Wood free advertisements in Bassmaster Magazine until his company is up and running again.
  • Bobby Murray wins first Bassmaster Classic®, collecting $10,000 in the winner-take-all championship on Lake Mead, Nev. Classic competitors were not told of the location of the Classic until their plane was airborne.
  • BASS establishes Anglers for Clean Water®, a nonprofit group to combat water pollution and habitat degradation.
  • Harry 'N' Charlie, written by Don Wirth and illustrated by Cliff Shelby, first appears in July/August issue of Bassmaster.
  • Roland Martin wins the first of his 9 Bassmaster Angler of the Year awards.



  • BASS holds the first catch-and-release tournament, the Florida National, on Lake Kissimmee. The event is won by Tom Mann. Today, more than 90 percent of BASS members practice catch-and-release.
  • The full-time BASS staff numbers 38.
  • Fred Young sells hand-carved Big O crankbaits at the Tennessee Invitational on Watts Bar for $15 apiece, spawning the "alphabet plug" revolution.
  • Don Butler, BASS' first member, wins the Bassmaster Classic on Percy Priest Reservoir in Tennessee.



  • Aerators are used in livewells to conform with the new BASS catch-and-release tournament rule.
  • In November, Sports Illustrated features the Classic.
  • Wendall Mann becomes the first Federation Nation qualifier to fish in the Bassmaster Classic, finishing last among 26 competitors.
  • Ray Scott testifies in Senate hearings against use fees on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes. Congress overturns the charges.
  • Dave Zimmerlee catches a 20-15 largemouth bass from California's Lake Miramar. It is the first certified 20-pound bass since George Perry's world record catch in 1932 and the first
    20-pounder to come from California.
  • Roland Martin wins his third consecutive Bassmaster Angler of the Year award.



  • George Perry, who caught the 22-4 world record largemouth in 1932, dies in plane crash near Birmingham, Ala.



  • The first National Bass Symposium is conducted in cooperation with the Sport Fishing Institute.
  • California's Dee Thomas, the inventor of flipping, wins the Arkansas Invitational on Bull Shoals Lake. Bassmaster Magazine introduces the world to flipping.
  • Angler of the Year Roland Martin is all-time leading money winner with $47,823.
  • Bill and Gregory Ward become the first father and son to compete against each other in the Bassmaster Classic.
  • Tom and Don Mann become the first brothers to compete against each other in the Bassmaster Classic.



  • Rick Clunn wins Bassmaster Classic VI on Lake Guntersville, Ala., the first of his four Classic crowns.



  • Rick Clunn becomes the first and only angler to win back-to-back Bassmaster Classics, this time claiming the title on Florida's Lake Tohopekaliga. It is the first Classic not held on a "mystery lake." BASS announced the location of the Classic in advance so that media and fans could make plans to attend.



  • Bobby Murray wins his second Bassmaster Classic, this time on Ross Barnett Reservoir, Miss.



  • Ray Scott is inducted into the International Game Fish Association's Hall of Fame.
  • Hank Parker wins his first Bassmaster Classic, taking the title on the Texas-Oklahoma border on Lake Texoma.



  • The Bassmaster Classic moves north for the first time, to New York's St. Lawrence River and the Thousand Islands area. Bo Dowden wins the championship. ABC's "20/20" broadcasts a feature on the Classic.
  • BASS membership reaches 350,000.
  • BASS debuts Fishing Tackle Retailer magazine.



  • In March, Roland Martin wins the Alabama Invitational on Lake Eufaula for his third consecutive BASS win.
  • At 21 years of age, Stanley Mitchell becomes the youngest angler ever to win the Bassmaster Classic.
  • For the first time, the Classic weigh-in is held indoors, this time at the Montgomery, Ala., Civic Center.



  • One of the first national organizations to recognize the danger of acid rain to the nation's fisheries, BASS embraced a public awareness campaign: "Acid Rain Burns My Bass."
  • BASS membership tops 400,000.



  • Alfred Williams becomes the first African-American angler to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic, finishing 10th.
  • Oklahoma fisheries biologist Ken Cook turns pro after winning $100,000 in the first Super BASS Tournament, the richest payout in BASS history.
  • The New York Times puts BASS and the Super BASS tournament on its front page.



  • Rick Clunn sets the Bassmaster Classic winning weight record with 75 pounds, 9 ounces on the Arkansas River as he wins his third Classic title. Honorary weighmasters at the event include future U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
  • After years of campaigning by BASS and other sportfishing groups, the Wallop-Breaux amendment to the Dingell-Johnson Act is passed, clearing the way for billions of dollars to be appropriated for state fishery efforts.
  • "The Bassmasters" debuts on TNN as a 30-minute special on the 1984 Bassmaster Classic.



  • Dave Precht becomes the editor of Bassmaster Magazine.
  • Roland Martin wins his ninth Bassmaster Angler of the Year award.



  • Helen Sevier and a group of investors purchase BASS from founder Ray Scott.
  • BASS holds the first MegaBucks tournament, featuring a links-style fishing course, on the Harris Chain of Lakes, Fla. Roger Farmer takes first place and a check for $101,000.



  • Kevin VanDam fishes his first BASS event, the New York Invitational on the St. Lawrence River. The 19-year-old finishes 110th out of 311 anglers. VanDam becomes a full-time professional angler a few years later and immediately makes his presence known, finishing in the top 50 of 28 consecutive BASS events.
  • Harold Sharp, who helped organize the first BASS club, retires as tournament director for BASS after 17 years in the post. He is replaced by Dewey Kendrick.
  • George Cochran wins his first Bassmaster Classic, taking the title on the Ohio River.
  • For five consecutive years beginning in 1987, BASS Federation Nation chapters win Take Pride in America awards from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.



  • George Bush is elected president. New York Times correspondent Maureen Dowd reports his favorite magazine is Bassmaster Magazine.
  • Adweek declares Bassmaster Magazine one of the "10 Hottest Magazines of 1988," along with Vanity Fair, Parade and U.S. News & World Report.



  • BASS Times, the newsletter for BASS club members, is transformed into a tabloid to provide more tournament and BASS Federation Nation news, resource conservation information and in-depth fishing tips. Matt Vincent is named the editor.
  • Bassmaster Magazine Editor Dave Precht participates in two round table discussions with President George H.W. Bush regarding matters affecting the nation's fisheries.
  • Hank Parker wins his second Bassmaster Classic title, this time on the James River in Va. His margin of victory is just 2 ounces, and he is propelled to the top spot after a keeper bass is accidentally dropped into the water by runner-up Jim Bitter.



  • Rick Clunn wins his fourth Bassmaster Classic championship, this time on Virginia's James River. Going into the final round, he was in 10th place, making his victory the biggest comeback in Classic history.
  • BASS hosts 13 leading scientists in the fields of water quality, fisheries and aquatic environment at the BASS Living Waters Symposium. Findings formed the basis for the first "Living Waters" section in Bassmaster Magazine.
  • BASS membership totals 525,000.



  • BASS conducts the first CastingKids competition.
  • Larry Nixon wins his fourth MegaBucks event and becomes the first angler to surpass $1,000,000 in BASS prize money.
  • Vojai Reed becomes the first female angler to fish the Bassmaster Tournament Trail, debuting at the Missouri Invitational on Truman Lake and finishing 58th out of 244 anglers.
  • The first incident of Largemouth Bass Virus is discovered in Florida's Lake Weir.
  • Bob Crupi catches a 22.01-pound largemouth bass from California's Lake Castaic. It is the second largest bass ever officially recorded.
  • BASS wins the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame Organization Award for conservation, youth program, community service and governmental affairs programs benefiting the nation's anglers.



  • Kevin VanDam wins his first Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.



  • Randy Dearman wins the Texas Invitational on Sam Rayburn Reservoir using "Lynch Line," a fishing line made of high-tech synthetic material used in bulletproof vests. His victory launches the "superline" revolution.
  • Tokyo's Norio Tanabe becomes the first international angler to win a BASS event, taking the Kentucky Invitational on Kentucky Lake.



  • In July, 23-year-old Bryan Kerchal becomes first Federation Nation qualifier to win the Bassmaster Classic. Less than five months later he is killed in a commuter plane crash in North Carolina.



  • BASS offices house 160 BASS staffers working in three buildings. The company has its own zip code: 36141.
  • BASS membership is 660,000, and the BASS Federation Nation is established in 46 states, Asia and Africa.
  • Mark Davis becomes the only angler to win the Bassmaster Angler of the Year award and Bassmaster Classic in the same season.



  • George Cochran wins Bassmaster Classic XXVI on Alabama's Lay Lake. It is his second Classic title.
  • First place prize money for the Bassmaster Classic is raised from $50,000 to $100,000



  • Dion Hibdon, whose father, Guido, won the Bassmaster Classic in 1988, wins the closest Bassmaster Classic ever. He defeats Federation Nation qualifier Dalton Bobo by a single ounce after Bobo loses 4 ounces to a dead fish penalty.
  • Roland Martin wins his 19th and last BASS event, the Vermont Top 100 on Lake Champlain.



  • Mark Tyler catches a 14-pound, 9-ounce largemouth bass at the California Western Invitational on the California Delta. It is the largest bass ever caught in BASS competition.
  • BASS sanctions World Championship Fishing, a competitive format that adds boat handling skills to traditional fishing contests.



  • At 54 years of age, Woo Daves becomes the oldest angler ever to win the Bassmaster Classic.
  • "The Bassmasters" television program finds a new home on ESPN2.



  • ESPN, "The Worldwide Leader in Sports," purchases BASS.
  • Dean Rojas catches the biggest five-bass limit in BASS history (45 pounds, 2 ounces) at the Florida Bassmaster Top 150 on Lake Tohopekaliga. He goes on to win the event with a then-record four-day catch weighing 108-12.
  • Kevin VanDam wins his first Bassmaster Classic, claiming the crown on the Louisiana Delta.



  • Kevin VanDam wins fishing's first ESPY as the "Best Outdoors Athlete."
  • Trip Weldon becomes BASS' Tournament Director.
  • Rick Clunn's streak of 28 consecutive Bassmaster Classic appearances comes to an end.



  • Jay Yelas wins the ESPY as "Best Outdoors Athlete."
  • James B. Hall becomes the editor of Bassmaster Magazine.



  • Takahiro Omori wins Bassmaster Classic XXXIV on North Carolina's Lake Wylie, becoming the first foreign born angler to claim fishing's biggest title.
  • Bassmaster Magazine wins the Eddie Award (presented by Folio Magazine) for excellence in overall editorial content.



  • "BassCenter" debuts on ESPN2, becoming the first program to borrow the "Center" name and the "SportsCenter" theme music.
  • BASS opens the doors of its new offices in Celebration, Fla.
  • Rick Clunn wins ESPN's Greatest Angler Debate. Roland Martin finishes second.
  • Kevin VanDam wins the toughest Bassmaster Classic ever with a 3-day total of just 12-15 on Pittsburgh's Three Rivers. It is his second Classic title and his third BASS win in a row, tying a record set by Roland Martin in 1981.
  • The International Game Fish Association and State of Kentucky reinstate David L. Hayes' 11-pound, 15-ounce smallmouth bass as the all-tackle world record. The catch had been disqualified in 1996, but new evidence brought to light by an article in Bassmaster Magazine causes the authorities to reevaluate the case.
  • BASS conducts a test event for the Women's Bassmaster Tour on Texas' Lake Lewisville. Eighty-eight boaters participate, and Pam Martin-Wells wins the tournament.



  • BASS introduces the Elite Series, the world's premier professional bass angling circuit bring the best anglers to the best waters at the best times of year.
  • First place prize money for the Bassmaster Classic is raised from $200,000 to $500,000.
  • Preston Clark catches an 11-pound, 10-ounce largemouth bass on his way to a 6th place finish in Bassmaster Classic XXXVI on Florida's Lake Tohopekaliga. It is the largest bass ever caught in Classic competition, eclipsing a 8-9 largemouth caught in the 1976 Classic by Ricky Green.
  • Tammy Richardson wins the first Women's Bassmaster Tour event, besting 102 other anglers on Alabama's Neely Henry Lake. Later she wins the ESPY for "Best Angler."
  • Dianna Clark wins the inaugural WBT Angler of the Year title.
  • Mac Weakley foul hooks a 25-pound, 1-ounce largemouth bass from Lake Dixon in California. Had the fish been taken legally, it would have surpassed the world record by nearly 3 pounds.
  • Bassmaster Magazine wins the Ozzie Award (presented by Folio Magazine) for excellence in design and use of illustration.



  • Alabama's Boyd Duckett becomes the first angler to win the Bassmaster Classic fishing in his home state. Classic XXXVII is held on Lay Lake.
  • Tom Ricks becomes BASS' General Manager.
  • Rick Clunn fishes in his 31st Bassmaster Classic.
  • Pam Martin-Wells wins the inaugural Women's Bassmaster Tour Championship on Alabama's Lake Mitchell.
  • Steve Kennedy sets a new BASS four-day tournament record with 122-14 on California's Clear Lake.



  • BASS celebrates its 40th anniversary.
  • BASS announces the next three years of Bassmaster Classic locations, allowing fans and anglers to prepare for its marquee event well in advance.
  • For the third consecutive year, the BASS record for the heaviest four-day catch is broken. Paul Elias of Laurel, Miss., establishes the new record of 132 pounds, 8 ounces, at a Bassmaster Elite Series event on Texas' Falcon Lake.
  • Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., earns his fourth Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year award. VanDam becomes the only angler other than Roland Martin to score more than three AOY trophies.
  • Kim Bain-Moore becomes the first woman to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic in its 38-year history. Bain-Moore qualifies when she wins the Toyota Tundra Women's Bassmaster Tour Angler of the Year award.