TULSA, Okla. — Former President George H.W. Bush joined bass fishing legends Billy Murray and Gary Yamamoto as inductees in the 2016 class of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremony was held in conjunction with the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.
In the 1980s, B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott’s personal relationship with Bush laid the foundation for a legacy list of impacts on sport fishing that remain beneficial today.
During his term as vice president, Bush played a key role in passage of the Wallop-Breaux amendment to the Sport Fish Restoration Act. More than $650 million is generated each year by the act for restoring aquatic habitat and improving access to recreational fishing and boating.
The 41st president of the United States significantly expanded the National Wildlife Refuge system, restored 3 million acres of wetlands and signed the Clean Air Reauthorization Act requiring cleaner burning fuels. Those achievements are highlights of how Bush benefited fishing and there are many more.
Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris gave the induction on behalf of Bush.
“President Bush is a symbol of how the common denominator of fishing leads to great achievements on our behalf,” said Morris. “He is a friend to all fishermen and I salute him especially for the uncelebrated deeds that he did for conservation, and there are many.”
“To have one of the great world leaders with a passion for fishing is a legacy that we’ll benefit from for generations to come,” he added.
Billy Murray formed the Bass Fishing Institute, a novel idea in 1975 that featured classroom instruction at colleges and universities with B.A.S.S. pros and experts as instructors. As a result thousands of anglers were introduced to intermediate and advanced information to improve their skills. Today the focus includes a program geared toward high school students.
For almost three decades Murray worked in product development for PRADCO brands. He played a role in designing many of today’s popular lures. He stayed busy with other endeavors, too.
For nearly a decade he was a cameraman/producer for the Fishin’ Hole TV series produced by Jerry McKinnis, now co-owner of B.A.S.S. Murray and twin brother Bobby, winner of the first Bassmaster Classic, hosted TV shows and traveled the nation promoting and teaching bass fishing to thousands of anglers.
“I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of all my great friends,” said Murray of his induction. “To spend a lifetime teaching and sharing fishing to newcomers and build on the skills of anglers is an achievement of its own.”
Gary Yamamoto, the founder of Gary Yamamoto Custom Lures, is credited with numerous innovations in the design and manufacturing of soft plastic lures. His Senko revolutionized soft plastic stick bait is one of the world’s most popular baits
Yamamoto focused on his lure business until age 37, when he launched what became a very successful professional angling career. A very humble man, Yamamoto sponsors numerous pros in the United States, Europe and Japan.
“I am grateful and honored to be part of this group of people,” said Yamamoto. “I’m just a fisherman with good fortune.”
“It pleases me to share my work with other anglers to help them enjoy fishing as I do,” he added.
The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization dedicated to all anglers, manufacturers, tackle dealers, media and other related companies that further the sport of bass fishing.