Bass Fisherman Profile: Ray Scott
Ray Scott is the founder of the Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society (BASS) and is – according to many – the father of today's competitive bass fishing. He's also one of the biggest names in outdoors sports, being named one of the twenty top Americans who made a major different in outdoors competitive sports in the last century.
Scott's bass fishing experience began in 1967 when he went on a fishing trip to Jackson, Mississippi. While waiting out a storm in his hotel room, Scott realized that while he could watch many different sporting events on television, not one of those shows was devoted to fishing. It was at this point that Scott realized there was an untapped market in bass fishing that he could fill by starting a competitive bass fishing tournament.
While many smaller, local tournaments had been held before, Scott's vision was much larger than that. He wanted to host a national bass fishing competition – something that had never been done before. Everyone saw fishing as a relaxing hobby, not a competitive sport – plus, everyone who seriously fished was out for trout, not bass.
To promote and advertise his competition, Scott first decided to create an organization – BASS, the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society. BASS hosted its first All-American Invitation Bass Tournament in June of 1967, and much to Scott's surprise, over 100 fishermen showed up to participate in it. Scott was suddenly a superstar in the bass fishing world.
While continuing to build up BASS, Scott began using the information he was getting from the organization and its members to conduct bass fishing seminars. He engaged other bass fishing experts like John Powell and Roland Martin to assist him and the three traveled all over the US teaching bass fishing techniques, alongside their philosophies of conservation and anti-pollution. The bass clubs that formed in the wake of these seminars would evolve into BASS clubs that ultimately became part of the BASS Federation.
In addition to discussing anti-pollution ideas, one of Scott's biggest principles was the idea of catch and release. According to him, if you don't need to eat your catch to survive, you should release it back into the pond. This keeps the bass population strong and prevents over-fishing, especially in areas like the Guadalupe River – home to the rare Guadalupe Bass. Now, almost 100% of all bass caught in national BASS tournaments are returned to the water they were caught in, and many other fishing groups follow Scott's mantra of catch and release.
While catch and release was perhaps Scott's biggest message, he also preached boating safety. As a result of his standing on safety, President Carter appointed Scott to serve on the US Coast Guard's National Boating Safety Advisory Council, and he continues to work on boating safety issues today. In 2002, Scott was inducted into the Boating Safety Hall of Fame in recognition for his life-long work in the field.
Today, Ray Scott owns Ray Scott Outdoors, Inc, a marketing and consulting firm for the tackle industry, and is the national spokesman for Sweeney Enterprises – a game and fish-feeding manufacturer. He's developed fishing gear, published fishing magazines, and remains active in various causes that support bass fishing. It can be said that few people in any sport have done as much as Ray Scott has done for the sport of bass fishing.