FORESTVILLE, Wis. — The National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA) recently awarded top honors to several members of the professional angling community at its 2020 conference this January. Among them was a special category reserved for visionaries who have shaped the sportfishing industry’s past, present and future. This year’s honoree is an exceptional leader in the outdoors and conservation, as well as a household name and pillar of the angling world.
Johnny Morris, who brought the crowd of several hundred angling professionals to its feet, spoke at the 2020 conference of his start in both fishing and business. Morris, who needed no introduction to the crowd, is founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops. An avid angler, Johnny spent five years on the professional bass fishing tournament circuit, qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic each year.
He got his start in 1972 by selling fishing tackle out of the back of his father's store, and since then has earned a reputation as one of the most influential retailers of the last 50 years. Today he is known as a retail and travel destination pioneer.
NPAA President Brian Bashore offered, “It was an absolute honor to present Johnny with the NPAA’s 'Look to the Future' Award at our conference. This award recognizes people and organizations who have contributed greatly to the future of sportfishing through their efforts surrounding conservation of our aquatic resources, and/or efforts to support growth in angling participation. Johnny’s passion and support for sportfishing made him the perfect award recipient.”
In accepting the award, Johnny proudly shared the recognition with the entire team at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s.
His message to NPAA members invoked sharing the passion of fishing with anyone you can, especially youth. Coming from a man like Morris, who detailed countless stories of doing just that with everyone from his own children, to members of communities throughout the world, was an inspirational nudge to all in the crowd. NPAA members were fortunate to witness the stories and testimony that have shaped policy and influenced world dignitaries, conservation leaders, and multiple presidents alike. The “Look to the Future" Award honors Mr. Morris as the industry icon he is, while offering support for current and future conservation goals he is pursuing.