With BASS formally up and running in early 1968, founder Ray Scott knew he needed more than just his tournament series to keep existing members interested and new members sending in checks.
He needed a tool to keep everyone together and on the same page ... literally.
Scott's answer was Bassmaster Magazine.
As he relates in his biography, Bass Boss, Scott's "whole aim with Bassmaster was to give inside information on bass fishing that the angler could get nowhere else.... I knew fishermen were hungry for hardcore information."
But Scott's skills were primarily in the areas of promotion and marketing, not editing or publishing. In fact, BASS' founder had failed English at both the high school and college levels.
No matter. Fishing's greatest front man knew that his audience cared less about grammar and punctuation than spinnerbaits and plastic worms. As long as fish-catching information was being related, substance would triumph over form.
And to make sure that there was plenty of substance between the magazine covers, Scott solicited articles from the best fishermen he could find — not writers. Their efforts were rough, and Scott did little to smooth them out, but the legion of bass lovers who were reading the magazine reveled in the new information and forgave any stylistic faux pas.
The first issue of Bassmaster Magazine was published in the spring of 1968 with Scott at the helm. In the 40 years since, only three other men have held the office of Bassmaster editor.
Bob Cobb was the outdoor editor of the Tulsa Tribune when Scott offered him the editorial position. He left his newspaper career behind and began work on what would become the most popular magazine in the fishing industry on December 7, 1969.
Cobb held the position until the mid 1980s when television responsibilities took him away from publishing. That's when Dave Precht took over.
Precht, a Houston newspaperman who first got involved with BASS after covering a Bassmaster Classic, held the reins of Bassmaster until 2003 when James Hall assumed the editorial responsibilities that he has held since that time.
With nearly 40 years of Bassmaster Magazine behind us, the person most often featured on the cover has been — you guessed it — none other than BASS founder Ray Scott, who has appeared on 15 covers.
Rick Clunn, Davy Hite and Kevin VanDam have the distinction of being on the cover more often than any other anglers with 8 covers each.
In addition to hundreds of anglers, other luminaries have also graced the cover over the years, including U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, though they were the Vice President and Governor of Arkansas, respectively, at the time.
And, just in case you're wondering, the first cover of Bassmaster featured Nashville Tennessean outdoor writer Jimmy Holt.
Today, Bassmaster Magazine continues in its tradition as the worldwide authority on bass fishing — a position it's held for 40 years.