Of all the outdoor pastimes that make up the fabric of American heritage, none offers a competitive element like bass fishing. Surely, the action-packed nature of the sport lends itself to an entertaining format, but it's hard to argue that anyone or anything has elevated tournament fishing as much as B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott. To honor his influence on the fishing community in both professional and recreational circles, officials announced yesterday that the 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic trophy will be emblazoned with the bass fishing legend's name.
Scott's legacy isn't only cemented by the world's largest fishing organization and the most popular event in sportfishing history, but also dates back to the very origins of professional bass fishing. Scott, who passed away at the age of 88 this year, created the Bassmaster Tournament Trail in 1967, which would be followed by the creation of B.A.S.S. a year later. The foundation of competitive fishing laid by Scott has supported what's become nationwide phenomenon, with circuits at every level of competitive fishing.
"Ray Scott's passion and vision for bass fishing more than 50 years ago created not only the B.A.S.S. organization but our entire industry," said B.A.S.S. CEO Chase Anderson. "We could think of no better way to celebrate his lasting legacy than by officially naming the most iconic trophy in sportfishing—the Bassmaster Classic trophy—in his honor. It is often said that winning the Classic etches an angler's name on the pages of bass fishing history, but it is a book that would never have been written without Ray."
The Bassmaster Classic, the highest level of competition for any single bass fishing event, started as only 24 anglers and a handful of spectators at Lake Mead, Nevada in 1971. Recent years have featured 55 anglers and have recorded more than 100,000 fishing fans at the tournament and affiliated events like the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo. Host communities reap the benefits of the event, too, raking in more than $30 million.
"I can remember being a kid, getting up to watch The Bassmasters with Ray and Bob Cobb," said 2022 Bassmaster Classic champion Jason Christie. "Ray Scott not only started modern-day bass fishing, but he was responsible for setting the bar on fish care and how tournament fishing should be done. I just hope whenever I'm done in this sport that I've lived up to the bar that Ray Scott set."
The Ray Scott Bassmaster Classic trophy will be awarded to the world champion of fishing March 26 in Knoxville, Tennessee.