One cold December day in 1968, while I was fishing at Lake Eufaula, Ala., I met Mr. Tom Scott at Chewalla Marina. He was in an 18-foot Skeeter boat with a 70-horsepower — the biggest boat and motor I had ever seen. I knew him from his days as a student at Auburn University; I was just a kid, and he and a cousin of mine used to take me squirrel hunting.Scott roared up to the pier where I was standing and started telling me about a fishing organization he was organizing — B.A.S.S. He said, "Give me $10 and I'll set you up as a charter member." I gave him the $10, three weeks later I received my charter membership certificate in the mail, and as they say, "the rest is history."
Scott came to Auburn later in 1969 and met with me and my friend Richard Fuller to help us set up the Auburn Bassmaster's Club. The three us sat on Richard's front porch and hammered out the by-laws and general plans for our local club. Scott said we were the first organized local club in the state of Alabama. Auburn Bassmaster's continues today as one of the strongest clubs in the state.Before B.A.S.S., individuals simply fished for the love of the sport. There was no organization, no means of communication between fishermen, no specialized equipment, and no leadership like that which Tom Scott provided.Fishing was great back then, though. I fished farm ponds at first, and when Lake Eufaula opened, I started fishing there, and the fishing was fantastic. In 1969, I caught my first 10-pound bass there. The lake is still outstanding, but today there are two factors determining why it no longer is the trophy lake it once was: the fertile waters of the 1960s no longer exist, and today's bass fishing pressure limits the catch.
I learned so much from Bassmaster Magazine over the years, especially new techniques and how to use new equipment. And through the stories, I've learned what B.A.S.S. means to other people. I have every issue of the magazine.Because of bass fishing, I've developed many great memories. In 2000, Tom Scott and Larry Colombo presented me with a National Fishing Hall of Fame special award. It was presented to me at halftime of an Auburn University basketball game.For 25 years, I taught angling in the Department of Physical Education at Auburn University. I loved helping young people get "hooked" on fishing. My class was once featured on a 30-minute ESPN Saturday morning special, and Denny Brauer used my class to film on season of his television show, Schooled by Denny Brauer.
I am proud to be a charter member of Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society and also a life member since 1974. A portion of my charter member certificate reads that I was: "Commissioned to promote and elevate our Bass fishing sport to a place of national prominence …and to encourage interest in Bass fishing …." Hopefully I have done my part to fulfill my commission, but certainly no other person has done more toward these goals than Mr. Tom Scott.I have always been a bass fisherman, and so I will always be indebted to B.A.S.S. for what it has done for bass fishing.
(Tom Sparrow IV, 63, lives in Auburn, Ala. He retired as director of athletic facilities for Auburn University.)