B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott and Forrest Wood shared a special bond early on that grew stronger over the years. Without knowing at the time, the companies founded by the entrepreneurs fueled the growth of each other.
Editor's note: Photo tribute to Forrest Wood.
In 1968, Scott wanted to elevate the sport of bass fishing to a truly professional level. Meanwhile, Wood gained insight from fishing the B.A.S.S. tournaments on how to build a better boat. Beyond doubt, the partnership exceeded whatever expectations either man could have ever dreamed of achieving.
The first aerated livewell in a bass boat came as result of the B.A.S.S. Catch and Release initiative in the 1970s. Ranger went on to become the official Bassmaster Classic boat for 30 years, boosting the credibility of B.A.S.S. with the industry and its sponsors. Those are just two examples of the significant footprints made over the years by B.A.S.S. and Ranger.
Before business came friendship. Wood came to Scott’s seventh tournament, the 1968 Dixie Invitational on Smith Lake, Alabama, to see what he could learn. He made a new friend, and also went back to Arkansas with a shoebox filled with boat orders.
Scott admired the Stetson cowboy hat worn by the lanky stranger from Arkansas. The men shook hands and Scott complemented Wood about the hat. The next week, a box arrived at B.A.S.S. headquarters in Montgomery, Ala., and inside was a Stetson hat gifted by Wood to his new friend. The Stetson hat became part of Scott’s wardrobe, not unlike it was for Wood.
Here is what Scott had to say about the loss of his friend.
“The passing of Forrest Wood truly marks the end of an era. He was not only the founding father of the modern bass boat but a dear friend.
“Together, step by step, we pioneered the early bass fishing industry. While I preached the gospel of the black bass and competitive angling, Forrest put fishermen into his innovative Ranger Boats designed specifically for bass fishermen.
“For those of you who didn’t know him personally, Forrest worked tirelessly not only to improve his own products, but support our exploding industry in every way he could, including boating safety issues and conservation.
“He embraced every aspect of B.A.S.S. I remember so many cool early mornings at Bassmaster Classics as Forrest and I watched the tournament boats idle and launch as the sun barely rose. There was tall, lanky Forrest in his white cowboy hat, and a mug of hot coffee always at hand.
“He is a true legend in the fishing world. Farewell my friend.”