As a newspaper outdoors editor, Gene Mueller has a longer history with B.A.S.S. than I do. I first met him at one of the many Bassmaster Classics that we attended, along with dozens of other journalists from across the country --- and even around the world --- back in the glory days of the 1980s and early 1990s.
In an opinion piece on his website, Gene Mueller’s World of Fishing & Hunting, he laments the loss of passion that founder Ray Scott brought to the organization.
Here’s an excerpt:
“These days, B.A.S.S. for the most part has become a fishing tournament group. When was the last time you heard of B.A.S.S. fighting the good fight, taking on polluters or dictatorial government regulators the way Scott and his company did on a regular basis. When was the last time B.A.S.S. has supported a bass-boater in court after he was threatened with bodily harm by an angry shoreline owner who figured that he not only owned the land but also free-flowing water, or perhaps arrange to study the piscatorial inhabitants of a large reservoir so his company could learn about the health of the fish?”
As the first and still the only Senior Writer/Conservation for B.A.S.S., I will say that many in the organization still care about such issues as pollution, invasive species, and access threats. That concern is evident in the coverage that B.A.S.S. Times provides for these topics and in the work that National Conservation Director Noreen Clough does behind the scenes with government agencies and other conservation organizations. It’s also exhibited in the many good works performed by the conservation programs of state Federation Nation chapters.
But Gene is right in that B.A.S.S. certainly isn’t the same without a Ray Scott to fire up the constituency and lead the way on issues of concern to anglers. And, while former owner ESPN glamorized tournament fishing with its glitzy coverage of the Classic, it possibly did more harm than good among rank and file B.A.S.S. members.
I’m hopeful that the new owners, all of whom are anglers, are remaking B.A.S.S. in the organizational image that Ray Scott brought to bass fishing.