In what has become an annual event during Bassmaster Classic week, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame will hold its annual induction banquet, honoring four pioneers in the sport.
The Class of 2012 includes longtime B.A.S.S. photographer Gerald Crawford, award-winning videographer Glen Lau, former Classic winner Paul Elias and boat innovator Holmes Thurmond.
The banquet will be held Friday, Feb. 24, in the Ballroom of Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino. A special tribute also is planned in memory of Ray Murski, a hall of famer and charter board member of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame who died in an automobile accident Dec. 19, 2011.
In the fall of 1980, Gerald Crawford was hired by B.A.S.S. to photograph the Bassmaster Classic at Thousand Islands, N.Y. He soon became the staff photographer for B.A.S.S. and Bassmaster Magazine, traveling throughout the country to cover its tournaments. Over the years, he photographed more than 200 professional tournaments, including every Classic since 1980. He is universally respected by tournament anglers because of the courteous and non-intrusive way he follows them on the water, always getting what he called “the shot” while being careful never to interfere with their fishing.
During Paul Elias’ 42-year career as a B.A.S.S. pro, he won six tournaments, including the 1982 Bassmaster Classic on the Alabama River in Montgomery, Ala. In that tournament, he introduced his “kneel ‘n reel” technique for deep cranking. He used the tactic years later to establish the all-time winning weight record for a 5-bass-limit tournament with 132 pounds, 8 ounces during an Elite Series event in April 2008 at Lake Falcon in Texas.
In between those tournaments, he became a recognized expert and innovator in the technique of deep cranking. He qualified for 15 Bassmaster Classics, finishing in the Top 10 eight times, and posting 41 Top 10 finishes in other B.A.S.S. events. A true pro’s pro, Elias has been an ambassador for the sport and especially for the profession of competitive bass fishing.
A legendary fishing guide on Lake Erie, Glen Lau gave up guiding to pursue a career in videography. As a producer and director, he created more than 300 commercials and 200 television programs, including several segments of The American Sportsman, The Wild, Wild World of Animals and Quest for Adventure.
He is perhaps best known for the groundbreaking documentary Bigmouth, which explored the life cycle of largemouth bass. More recently, his Bigmouth Forever film won the 1996 North American Film & Video Award and numerous other national honors. He has hosted or appeared on more than 300 television programs and is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, the American Society of Media Photographers, the American Fisheries Society, and the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. He is one of the founders of the “Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs” campaign.
Today, he owns Glen Lau Productions, a Florida-based film production company that specializes in outdoor adventure and underwater productions. A resident of Ocala, Fla., he is an ardent supporter of the Florida Bass Conservation Center and other conservation causes in his adopted home state.
Holmes Thurmond came up with a design for a boat that wouldn’t get pushed around by the wind, a boat with inward-sloping sides. The boat was also extremely stable and just about impossible to turn over, because even if you stood on the sides, you’d actually be standing towards the middle of the boat. Low, sleek, and narrow, Thurmond’s little wood boat developed quite a following. Like a sharp-nosed bug, the boat zipped around the lakes, and soon people nicknamed it the Mosquito, or “Skeeter,” for short. He brought to market what many believe to be the world’s first bass boat, known as “Skeeter,” in 1948.
Thurmond eventually sold the rights to build fiberglass replicas of his boat to Skeeter Products Inc., which has grown the Skeeter name into one of the most popular boat brands in the country. Thurmond was born in 1894 and passed away in 1970.
“We’re inviting all bass fishing enthusiasts to join us in Shreveport-Bossier City in February to honor and recognize these gentlemen for their contributions to our sport,” said Sammy Lee, president of the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization dedicated to recognizing anglers, media, industry leaders and others who further the sport of bass fishing.
B.A.S.S. owner and television pioneer Jerry McKinnis will be the keynote speaker for the induction dinner. In addition, valuable prizes such as fishing tackle and exotic hunting and fishing trips — including one with The Bassmasters television show host Mark Zona — will be auctioned during the evening. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. CT and the dinner begins at 8:00.