Bass Anglers Sportsman SOciety
One of the premiere societies for bass fishermen is the Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society, abbreviated BASS. BASS is one of the oldest bass fisherman societies in the US and currently has over half a million members, including worldwide members. The society sponsors tournaments, publishes the Bassmaster Magazine, and produces "The Bassmasters," a weekly TV program dedicated to bass fishing. It's also the host of the huge Bassmasters Classic, the spotlight event of its tournament series.
BASS was the brainchild of Ray Scott, who founded the society in 1967. Scott realized that there were no major bass fishing tournaments in the US, so he decided to create one. To help promote the tournament, spread the word about bass fishing, and promote conservation efforts, he created the Society, which hosted its first fishing tournament in June of that year. The event was held at Beaver Lake, Arkansas, and saw 106 fishermen compete for the prize of $2,000 and a trip to Acapulco.
This tournament was followed by the Bassmasters Classic in 1971, the event that would become the society's spotlight competition in the years to come. One of the main features of the first five contests was that contestants didn't know where the tournament was being held – they were put on a plane bound for a mystery lake. While this prevented fishermen from having any advance knowledge of the site, the policy was changed in 1977 so that fans could attend the event. Today, the Bassmasters Classic is a huge spectator event that's broadcast live on television around the world with a prize package worth nearly a half million dollars.
In addition to the Bassmasters Classic, BASS also sponsors several other tournaments. The Bassmaster Elite Series is a series of eleven events that gives away eleven million dollars in various prizes. The Bassmaster Opens is a series for amateur fishermen, while the Women's Bassmaster Tour gives lady anglers a chance to grab a Triton Boat worth $50,000 plus numerous other cash prizes. If you're an aspiring angler, check to see if there's an event being held near you – just watching these talented fishermen will give you the inspiration you need to reach the top of the sport.
In addition to its many tournaments and publications, BASS and its members are also very active on the environmental stage. One of Ray Scott's missions for the society was to educate fishermen about pollution, species preservation, and water quality management. In 1970, BASS actually filed lawsuits against over 200 businesses for releasing tons of pollutants into the water in violation of the 1899 Refuse Act. Today, the group remains active with advocacy groups in the environmental field, spreading their message of good ecological stewardship.
While Scott owned BASS for many years after founding it, he sold the company to a group of investors in 1986. These investors, in turn, sold the BASS society to ESPN in 2001. ESPN still owns BASS and its tournaments as a subsidiary. Despite the change in ownership, BASS still follows its primary goals of increasing interest in bass fishing and educating its members about fishing techniques and ways to preserve the environment and the fishing population.