50 years of tournament fishing: The challenge taken

This month we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ray Scott’s first bass tournament. Here are the behind-the-scenes details of the ­high-risk, high-reward efforts of the B.A.S.S. Boss and the handful of anglers willing to bet on the future of ­competitive fishing.

The smartphone is a wonderful innovation. Information at your fingertips, an encyclopedia of events and history in response to a simple question to the powerful oracles of our age: the voice recognition Internet search technologies.

“Is Ray Scott the man behind the sport of professional bass fishing?”

The automated voice will answer, “Yes, Ray W. Scott Jr. of Montgomery, Ala., introduced competitive bass fishing on June 5 to 7, 1967, at Beaver Lake, Arkansas.”

Editor's note: See photos from Ray Scott's first tournament.

On the surface, any fact checker will attest to Scott’s certification as the visionary who propelled the black bass to become America’s fish — replacing the Lordly Trout as the most coveted, sought-after sportfish in freshwater.

Scott, an insurance salesman at the time with a passion for bass fishing, used his know-how to prospect for potential insurance policy buyers to parlay four named fishermen on a 5 x 6 card file into the world’s largest fishing organization, with over 650,000 members at the high-water mark.