CONOVER, N.C. — Whenever and wherever the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation has needed a strong leader, Bob Patrick has answered the call.
The 73-year-old Patrick has been instrumental in the development of two state Federation Nations. Plus, he founded two clubs for the BASS grass-roots organization. "The Federation Nation has given me an opportunity to serve and given me a mission for the kids," said Patrick.
During his long association with the Federation Nation, Patrick has most enjoyed the professionalism and structure of BASS and the organization's receptiveness to new ideas. "I think I have a history of thinking outside the box and getting some unique things done," said Patrick. "BASS is very receptive to that."
His history with the Federation Nation began in the early 1970s when he was transferred from Muskogee, Okla., to Corning, N.Y., by Corning Glassworks to become the company's director of labor relations. He grew up bass fishing with his dad in Oklahoma and excelled in wrestling and baseball. The stellar athlete was a state champion wrestler in high school, played in the College World Series for Oklahoma State University's baseball team and had a brief stint in the Chicago Cubs minor league system.
His desire to compete and love of bass fishing drew Patrick to bass tournaments, which prompted him to form his first Federation club, the Crystal City Bassmasters of Corning, N.Y. The state had a small Federation at that time, but Patrick helped it grow from five to more than 40 clubs during his two years as president.
"What I am most proud of is getting the New York State Federation started along the track of what I thought the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society stood for, which is a whole lot more than competitive fishing," said Patrick. "I wrote into the bylaws [a strong recommendation] that the clubs have a conservation and youth program."
During his tenure, Patrick and Bruce Shupp, then BASS' national conservation director, worked with the state of New York to reduce its daily possession limit on bass and impose a 12-inch minimum length restriction.
In 1981, Patrick moved to Hickory, N.C., and stayed in the Federation with a couple of clubs that are no longer in existence. He joined the Balls Creek Bassmasters about 16 years ago and got involved with the Casting Out Cancer tournament that was founded by TV fishing show host Jim Ledbetter 22 years ago.When Ledbetter died in 2001, Patrick became coordinator for the annual event, which has raised $675,000 for The V Foundation through the years.
When Patrick found out that North Carolina's officers left during the split of the Federation, he volunteered to serve as state president and organize his state's Federation Nation. He served as president for two years and left the office this year to become the state youth director.
His latest labor of love is the Balls Creek Juniors BASS club, which Patrick and Curtis Barlowe formed this year. During one of the junior club's tournaments, Patrick served as the boat captain for Christian Johnson, who won the event and, the next week, took first place in the 15- to 18-year-old division of the North Carolina Junior Bass Fishing State Championship.
Even though he has spent countless hours volunteering for Federation Nation projects, Patrick still has plenty of tournament experience he can pass on to the kids. The veteran angler has never made the North Carolina state team, but he recalls winning more than 60 tournaments (club events and local derbies) and has won five Angler of the Year titles with various clubs.
"Bob's support to BASS has been unwavering," said Stacy Twiggs, BASS senior manager of Federation Nation Youth. "He is a very dedicated BASS member who believes in community service, conservation and youth programs."