B.A.S.S. would not have gotten off the ground or gone as far as it did without Ray Scott, who a number of veteran anglers say was absolutely the right man at the right time.
To get the sport up and running, Scott employed his many talents – he was part salesman, part carnival barker and full-time bass fishing enthusiast – to sell the sport to the masses.
The organization Scott founded, the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society that’s better known by the acronym B.A.S.S., is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It drew national attention almost immediately. In 1969, a year after Scott began signing up anglers to memberships and holding regular tournaments, Sports Illustrated’s Robert Boyle wrote the following passage in an article.
“When it comes to black bass, Ray Scott of Montgomery, Ala., has a silver tongue and a golden touch ... and when he talks about bass … he comes on like a revival preacher painting the glories of paradise gained.”
Boyle would go on to fully memorialize Scott’s efforts and vision that helped create the multi-billion dollar bass fishing industry in his 1999 book, Bass Boss. Many others have trumpeted the merits of Scott, who was the early face of the sport as the emcee and kept pushing it forward.
“Ray Scott was a generation ahead of the rest of the country, as far as what would happen,” said Roland Martin, one of the early fishing stars. “I think B.A.S.S. would have finally gotten there, but we would have been 10 or 15 years behind the eight ball. Ray Scott pushed the envelope farther than anybody else.”
With a degree in marketing and sales from Auburn University, Scott acted on his “brainstorm in a rainstorm,” his well-documented epiphany that bass fishing competitions could go national. (Read about Scott’s bio on his website.) His efforts were bolstered by his booming voice and authoritative presence. Scott could and would take over interactions with most anybody.