The father of the modern bass boat made his mark on the angling industry in more ways than one.
Forrest L. Wood, the founder of Ranger Boats and a pioneer in the bass fishing tournament scene, died in Mountain Home, Arkansas over the weekend. He was 87 years old.
Wood's grandson wrote in a Facebook post that Forrest was surrounded by family when he passed following a bout with a brief illness. He resided in Flippin, Arkansas.
Widely recognized as the originator of the modern bass fishing boat, Wood dedicated much of his life to perfecting the design, complete with fiberglass bodies, swivel chairs, and abundant tackle storage. The resulting Ranger Boats were everything a bass angler needed, and Wood built a reputation as a knowledgeable and experienced man on the water.
He founded the company in 1968 with his wife Nina, and sold it in 1987.
We ask that you lift our founders, Forrest and Nina Wood, and their family in prayer this evening. Forrest is in critical condition at Baxter Regional Medical Center in Mountain Home, Ark. pic.twitter.com/dIcTJYXzfh
— Ranger Boats (@RangerBoats) January 22, 2020
He would go on to qualify for the first ever Bassmaster Classic, and by 1972, Ranger Boats had an exclusive sponsorship deal with the tournament. It was the Classic's official boat until 2000.
The Impact of Forrest L. Wood, Ranger Boats Founder
The man many described as humble, respectful, and hardworking, Wood let his stamp on the collective fishing world.
In a statement, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Wood's death "is a deeply sad moment for our entire state. His contributions to the world of fishing and recreation have made Arkansas a destination point for fishermen from all over the world."
In 1996, the bass tournament organization Operation Bass renamed itself with Wood's initials, and has been referred to as the "FLW Tour" to this day.
Not only was Wood influential on the business side of things, but he also served on his home state's Game and Fish Commission.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee appointed Wood to the Commission in 1998. Wood was instrumental in securing a minimum flow current on the White River to preserve the famed fishery. The commission later named its nature center in Jonesboro after Wood.
Today we lost a sweet and gentle giant, my dear friend of over 50 years, Forrest Wood. Our prayers and thoughts go out to you, Nina and your wonderful family. As long as someone calls Forrest’s name, he’ll always live on. Love you all, Dianne and Bill Dance and family. pic.twitter.com/TwE0iWkImT
— Bill Dance (@Bill_Dance1) January 25, 2020
Wood was a member of the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, the International Boating Hall of Fame, Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame and into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 and 2011, respectively.
Saddened to hear of death of Forrest Wood, Founder of @RangerBoats of Flippin, AR. Legendary conservationist & simply great Christian gentleman. Humble, kind, generous, and visionary. Fmr AR Game/Fish Commissioner. He only had friends-no enemies.
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) January 25, 2020
Funeral services will be held at Flippin First Baptist Church at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 29, 2020. Details can be found in a Facebook post from Daffron.