Bill Dance is a man of firsts in bass fishing history. He won the first Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year award (1970), established the first television program based on his competitive fishing prowess and was the sport's first bona fide superstar.
He even caught the first bass in B.A.S.S. event history. The tournament was on Beaver Lake in Arkansas in 1967 and Dance borrowed a 60-h.p. outboard to fish it. That made him much faster than the rest of the field. He took off from the "shotgun" start and caught a bass on his first cast. When he looked back toward the launch, the rest of the field was still motoring toward him.
Much of Dance's legend rests on his three AOY titles (tied for third best behind Roland Martin and Kevin VanDam) and seven B.A.S.S. wins (tied for ninth best), but he has many other claims to fame, including four top 10 Bassmaster Classic finishes (including a runner-up finish in 1973), six consecutive top 10 finishes in the AOY race (1972-77) and a third place finish in ESPN's Greatest Angler Debate in 2005 (behind only Rick Clunn and Roland Martin).
Dance was among the first inductees into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2001 and will forever be on the short list of the very best bass anglers ever to make a cast or set a hook.
Perhaps his greatest legacy will be as a teacher and ambassador for the sport through his books and long-running and immensely popular television show, "Bill Dance Outdoors." Each week, hundreds of thousands of avid anglers tune in to watch the man with the orange T on his cap (University of Tennessee) not only take them fishing but teach them to fish in the process.