John Powell, one of BASS' first members and Tournament Trail stars, died on Oct. 6 at his Lake Martin home. He was 78 years old.
Powell served in the U.S. Air Force from 1947 to 1969 before retiring and becoming one of BASS' first life members. Over his 16-year professional fishing career, he won three BASS events and developed a reputation as one of the sport's greatest shallow water plastic worm fishermen. His penchant for shallow water was so well known that after losing the early lead in one tournament, it was joked that his productive tractor rut had dried up.
When Ray Scott founded BASS in 1968, Powell was there to help. In 1970, he joined Scott and fellow tournament stars Roland Martin, Bill Dance and Tom Mann on a cross-country seminar tour to spread the gospel of bass fishing and recruit new members for BASS.
In 1968, Powell won the second BASS event he ever fished — the Eufaula National on Lake Eufaula — with a then-record 132 pounds, 2 ounces. In 1971, he won back-to-back BASS events on Missouri's Table Rock Lake and Texas' Sam Rayburn Reservoir. He qualified for six Bassmaster Classics, finishing 8th in 1980.
Following his retirement from tournament fishing in 1984, Powell continued to tour the country giving bass fishing seminars and teaching others the joys of fishing. In 1983, he won the first Stren Circle of Excellence Award and was hailed as "a man whose career has been distinguished not only by his success as a professional tournament angler, but as one who has been willing to share his knowledge and time with others."
Powell is survived by his wife, Grace, daughter, Karen Weatherly, and two granddaughters. Memorial services were conducted on Monday, Oct. 8.