Although Ray Scott didn't envision a world championship of bass fishing immediately after creating the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society in 1968, it didn't take him long. Three short years after Scott sold his first membership to the fledgling organization, he decided that there should be a grand finale to a season's worth of rod rattling, and labeled it the Bassmaster Classic.
Now described as the "Super Bowl of Bass Fishing," the crown jewel of competitive angling has come a long way since 24 part-time fishermen vied for the title in 1971, weighing in on a boat dock with only a handful of curious onlookers. As BASS celebrates its 40th anniversary, it would be a mistake to ignore the first 38 Classics and the anglers who captured the titles.
Sadly, three of our champions are no longer with us. Don Butler (first member of BASS), Rayo Breckenridge and Bryan Kerchal (first and only Federation Nation member to win the Classic) have passed. Since a photo of the group was not possible, Bassmaster commissioned longtime contributor Chris Armstrong to illustrate the men who have held the Classic trophies high above their heads and the fishing industry on their shoulders.