Hall of Fame 2017: Wade Bourne

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Ronnie Moore
Dave Precht presents Wade Bourne's plaque to wife, Becky, and son, Hampton.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Wade Bourne left quite a legacy in the outdoors, and his passing left a tremendous void.

“I miss him so much, because Wade was a very close friend of mine,” said Dave Precht, his longtime editor at Bassmaster Magazine. “Wade was one of the original writers for Bassmaster Magazine, even before I came on in the dark ages.

“Wade was just a polished talent who was an excellent fisherman, excellent hunter and just a wonderful person.”

The Clarksville, Tenn., native served as senior writer for Bassmaster for more than 40 years before he died last December. His work in the outdoors media was extensive. He founded and hosted Wired2Fish/Hunt Radio, which was syndicated on 280 stations. He hosted Ducks Unlimited TV as well as In-Fisherman radio programs. Bourne was also a prolific author, penning six books and more than 3,000 magazine articles.

Bourne was among the five 2017 inductees in the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. His widow, Becky, with son Hampton by her side, accepted the honor during last week’s ceremony at Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.

“We are so humbled and honored by the posthumous induction of Wade into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame,” she said. “To the other inductees, Wade is in very good company.”

Awards were common for Bourne, who was honored at ICAST in 2016 by the American Sportfishing Association. It presented him its highest recognition, the Homer Circle Fishing Communicator Award. Bourne has also been inducted into the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame and the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as well as receiving the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association's Lifetime Achievement Award. 

“He was a pioneer in the outdoors, and he just had a flare,” Precht said. “He was a master storyteller. That’s what attracted so many people to the sport – reading stories from Wade Bourne and seeing his photos. He was a class act. I miss him so much.”

Becky Bourne said her husband had a passion for fishing since his youth, where his father imparted to him a love and knowledge of the outdoors. Some of his folksy sayings even rubbed off on her.

“I recall my father-in-law saying, very often, ‘You know it’s time to go fishing when the oak leaves are the size of squirrel’s ears,’” she said. “(Wade) tried to give that gift to me, and we were doing really well until I backlashed his Ambassador 5000 one day.”

Bourne was gracious, giving credit to those in the industry who helped him along his career path. Becky said Precht was acknowledged in his first book for his assistance and guidance.

A full circle moment came after his death, she said. He died of a heart attack at 69 after cutting down the family Christmas tree, and that tree was placed in Kentucky Lake as a fish attractor and used in a study by the state game and fish department.

She closed with a passage from his second fishing book that well summates the sentiments and spirit of sending out line and hook:

“Whenever and however you fish, I urge you never to get too far from the basic joys and challenges in this sport. Take time to focus on the one-on-one contest between you and the fish, not just the reward or glory you’ll receive from landing the big one.

“Respect the fish and always be a good caretaker of God’s gifts in pure waters, and the creatures within. Use but don’t abuse them.

“Until we meet, I wish you good fishing. Let your worries blow away with the wind or flow downstream with the currents. This is the real gift of fishing, the gift of inner peace and I pass it along to you.”