Back in November 1985, the new editor of Bassmaster Magazine, Dave Precht, asked a high school English/journalism teacher to be Senior/Writer Conservation for B.A.S.S. Publications. Thirty years later, I'm proud to say that I remain the first and only conservation writer in the company's history. Most of my articles in the early days appeared in Bassmaster. Today, they're mostly in B.A.S.S. Times or at Bassmaster.com.
B.A.S.S. is a wonderful organization, staffed with remarkable people, and I'm so blessed to be a part of that. As such, I know that anglers, fisheries, and the fishing industry all have benefitted from its existence, often in ways that outsiders can't imagine. I reveal what this company founded by Ray Scott has done for sport fishing in "The B.A.S.S. Factor," an essay in Why We Fish: Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen.
Here's an excerpt:
In 1970, B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott gained national attention by filing lawsuits against more than 200 polluters and creating Anglers for Clean Water (ACW), a non-profit conservation arm. One of ACW’s most important contributions for more than a decade was Living Waters, an annual environmental supplement dealing with fishery and water quality issues nationwide.
In 1972, Scott initiated catch-and-release at bass tournaments. Conservation-minded trout anglers had been releasing their fish for decades before that, but it was Scott and B.A.S.S. who generated mass acceptance.
“B.A.S.S. has inspired a lot of young fishermen,” Bill Dance said. “I see it all the time in the mail that I get.
“One little boy talked about catching his first big bass and how good it felt to release that fish. Years ago, that little boy never would have released that fish.”
Earl Bentz of Triton Boats added that the practice of releasing tournament-caught fish has had a massive ripple effect in salt water. “I remember when they would weigh in blue marlin and throw them n the dump,” he said. “Now most of the tournaments are live-release tournaments, and it all began after B.A.S.S. started promoting catch-and-release.”