What Makes A Pro?
The competitive sport of bass fishing is a relatively young one even though catching bass is as old as America itself. In the sport of bass fishing’s young age there have been a few people who have taken the sport from being one that was rarely heard of outside of the Southeast United States and turned it into an internationally followed sport and a multi-billion dollar industry.
These twenty anglers below may not all be tournament anglers to rival the tournament accomplishments of Kevin Van Dam or Roland Martin, but they all have one thing in common. They are great ambassadors to the sport of bass fishing.
Many have brought bass fishing to the living room of people all across the world and showed people that anyone can get out there and catch a big bass from a boat or from the shore. They have taught us lessons like conservation, family values and just taking a step back to enjoy the beautiful lake, river or pond you are so truly blessed to be fishing on.
So I now present to you The 20 Most Famous Bass Anglers of All Time.
1. Ray Scott
Ray Scott founded the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S) in 1967, which later became simply known as BASS. He founded the first tournament trail in history dedicated to black bass, the BASS tournament trail.
2. Bill Dance
Best known for his TV show Bill Dance Outdoors, Bill Dance was also a successful BASS Tournament Angler in its early years and is credited by some as the first person to catch a bass on that tournament trail. He has provided tips, tricks and insight to bass anglers since 1968. His blooper reels are the stuff of legend amongst anglers. Bill is also a champion of conservation always reminding anglers to “keep what you can use, and throw back the rest.”
3. Forrest L. Wood
Forrest L. Wood is the founder of Ranger Boats and whose initials are used by the FLW tour for its namesake. (Although it now means Fishing League Worldwide) He qualified for the first BASSMASTER Classic in 1967. In 1968 his boats became the official boats of the Classic and stayed that way until the year 2000.
4. Kevin Van Dam
The man that is synonymous with competitive bass angling. Kevin Dam has qualified for twenty-four straight BASSMASTER Classics, winning four He became the youngest angler on the BASS Elite Series to be name Angler of the Year at age twenty-four in 1992. He has won six more titles since that time. He is the angler who it is believed coined the term “power fishing.”
5. Roland Martin
Roland Martin is the host of Fishing with Roland Martin. Along with having a hit TV show, he has had a stellar tournament bass fishing career. Roland Martin has qualified for a record twenty-five BASSMASTER Classics, has won nineteen times on tour, placed second a record nineteen times and placed in the top ten on tour 94 times. Along with Bill Dance he is a strong voice for conservation amongst anglers and sportsman.
TV host Jimmy Houston has been putting bass fishing on the American sports map after hosting a variety of fishing shows throughout the years. He is also an accomplished tournament angler, making time these days to fish the Walmart FLW tour.
7. Rick Clunn
As a four time BASSMASTER Classic winner, Rick Clunn is tied with Kevin Van Dam for most Classic victories. To add to his list of major tournament wins he has a pair of WON Bass U.S. Open Championships on Lake Mead, which has been said is the toughest tournament to win in the west. He was also the 1988 BASS Angler of the Year.
8. Hank Parker
Two time Bassmaster Classic Champion Hank Parker has hosted his famous television show Hank Parker’s Outdoor Magazine for twenty-eight years now. The show is full of tips and techniques to help everyone from the beginner to professional angler catch more and bigger fish.
9. Mike “Ike” Iaconelli
BASS Elite Series Angler Mike Iaconelli is definitely one of the most recognizable figures on the Elite Series right now. He has won both a Bassmaster Classic Championship and a Toyota Elite Series AOY title. He also has an obscure award bestowed upon him by GQ Magazine, in the form of being one of 2006’s 10 Most Hated Athletes. Whether it’s his fist pumping, yelling, or any other crazy antics that earned Iaconelli the award the self proclaimed “power fisherman” is certainly in the bass fishing publics eye.
10. Al Lindner
Even though Al Lindner could be described as a jack of all trades when it comes to fishing he won two BASS tournaments (then the BASS Tour Trail). After quitting tournament angling in 1979 he continued to educate anglers through In-Fisherman, which he and his brother Ron sold in 1998 and through their new company Linndners Angling Edge. Al’s favorite fish is the smallmouth bass.
11. Shaw Grigsby
Shaw Grigsby is another successful outdoor TV host with a solid tournament record. He currently host’s One More Cast with Shaw Grigsby. He has won nine times on the Bassmaster Elite Series Tour and has taken four top tens on the FLW tour.
12. Gary Klein
Gary Klein has been fishing both the Elite Series since 1978 and has been fishing the FLW tour since 1997. He has eight wins and four wins respectively as well as two BASS AOY titles.
13. Larry Nixon
Larry Nixon is a winner on both the FLW tour and the BASS Elite Series. On those tours he has won four times and fourteen (tying him with Rick Clunn) times respectively. To add to those accomplishments he has one Bassmaster Classic and one Bassmaster AOY title to hang on his wall. He continues to fish both tours to this day and his hard work and dedication to the sport of bass fishing continue to help land in the top ten time and again.
14. Dave Mercer
The infectious laughter of Canadian Dave Mercer anytime he hooks a “triple sow cow” smallmouth bass can be heard and seen on his show The Facts of Fishing. Dave has such an energetic personality on his show that BASS decided to bring him on as the emcee for the 2011 Bassmaster Classic. When he did such an amazing job, they kept him around for the other eight regular season Bassmaster Elite Series Tournaments.
15. Johnny Morris
Ordering and buying bass fishing lures was forever changed by Johnny Morris after he started selling them out of catalogs in 1974. His company Bass Pro Shops, now has sixty-four locations all over the U.S. and Canada with more stores popping up all the time. He is also credited with building the first boat outfitted with a motor on it right off the line.
16. Chris Houston
Chris Houston is married to Jimmy Houston. While appearing frequently on Jimmy’s TV show, she was also a superstar on the Bass’n Gals Circuit where she racked up several points titles and won the World Championships several times.
17. Jay Yelas
Jay Yelas is no stranger to bass fishing competition. He has racked up five wins on the BASS Elite Series tour, to include a Bassmaster Classic win and an AOY title in 2003. On the FLW tour he has earned himself twenty-one top ten finishes and has been to the Forrest Wood Cup ten times.
18. Mark Davis
Three time Bassmaster AOY Mark Davis has been fishing professionally for twenty-six years now. In that time Mark earned one Bassmaster Classic victory, five regular Elite Series victories and one victory on the FLW tour. He is still no stranger to top tens these days and has recently been “trying to keep up with the young guys” by doing so.
19. Denny Brauer
Denny Brauer had been on the tournament scene for thirty-two years when he announced his retirement on a sponsor’s website in 2012. In that time this bass fishing legend had racked up seventeen first place finishes on the Elite Series, one AOY title in 1987 and on Bassmaster Classic Victory. Denny is most noted for his ability to catch big bass on a jig.
20. Billy Westmorland
Billy was one of the guys that jetted professional bass fishing to where it is today. He is most noted for his love of smallmouth bass. He also won three BASS tournaments in the early years. Billy died in 2002.
As you can see most of the anglers that have brought bass fishing to the main stream have been tournament anglers, but not all. Others have such enthusiasm for the sport that you yourself can’t help but dream of catching big bass on your home lake, river or pond.
What do you think? Have any of these guys inspired you to get out and go fishing? Is there any other pro or even someone else that has done it for you? Please leave your comments below!