HIXSON, Tenn. — Harold Sharp, the first tournament director at B.A.S.S. and a pioneer in competitive bass fishing, died Thursday after a brief illness.
“Thousands of fishermen who never knew his name have Harold to thank for what they’re doing right now,” said his daughter, Ann Ball.
Sharp helped Ray Scott refine the rules and formats of professional bass tournaments in the first two decades of B.A.S.S. history.
His Chattanooga Bass Club was the first to affiliate with B.A.S.S., and he was a leader in establishing the network of clubs that is now known as the B.A.S.S. Nation.
“He was very proud of being a part of it all,” Ball said.
Ball said her father died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family, including his wife, Cyree; brother, Don Sharp of Hixson; sister, Pat Austin of Harlingen, Texas; and Ball.
Ball said Sharp began feeling ill on Friday, Sept. 11, his 88th birthday.
Sharp, who was inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2004, was among a small group of visionaries who saw the future of the sport of bass fishing.
He competed in Scott’s second bass tournament, held on Smith Lake, Alabama, and he became the second member of B.A.S.S. in 1968, after Don Butler. He organized the Chattanooga Bass Club, which became the first bass club to affiliate with B.A.S.S. He drafted rules and guidelines for the organization of clubs, many of which remain in effect for the B.A.S.S. Nation, which has affiliated clubs in 47 states and eight foreign nations.
Sharp retired from the Southern Railroad after 26 years and moved to Montgomery, Ala., to head up the Bassmaster Seminar Tour, with dozens of stops throughout the country. He became B.A.S.S. tournament director in 1970, serving in that role until he retired in 1987.
Scott credits Sharp with ensuring that cheating did not take place in Bassmaster events from the earliest days.
“No one got away with breaking the rules when Harold was in charge,” Scott said. “He was firm, but he was fair.”
After retiring from B.A.S.S., Sharp worked for television fisherman Orlando Wilson for several years before launching his own company, “Fishin’ Talents,” which represented several professional bass anglers.
Funeral services for Sharp will be held at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Chattanooga Funeral Home at 5401 Highway 153 in Hixson, Tenn.