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Jerry McKinnis, Fishing Legend and Outdoor TV Producer, Passes Away at 82

One of our most influential fishermen and a true media icon, Jerry McKinnis, died Sunday following a six-week stint in the hospital. 

Jerry McKinnis, 82, died this past Sunday, November 3, 2019 after complications from an infection kept him hospitalized for six weeks. His undeniable imprint will be left on the fishing industry forever. He impacted the way fishing is depicted on television, and played a leading role in the creation of competitive college and high school bass fishing series.

The longtime Little Rock, Arkansas resident was probably best known for his hosting role on The Fishin' Hole, a TV show that first aired in 1975 before being featured on ESPN in 1985. The show would eventually become the second-longest tenured show on the network, behind only SportsCenter.

McKinnis purchased B.A.S.S. from ESPN in 2010, in partnership with Don Logan and Jim Copeland. He then sold controlling interest in the organization to Anderson Media in 2017.

He was the founder of JM Associates, which would go on to produce award-winning TV and online shows about fishing and the outdoors. That team took over production of "The Bassmasters" television program for B.A.S.S. and ESPN in 2001. McKinnis was also instrumental in the creation of other outdoor programming, like ESPN's Great Outdoor Games and the Stihl Timbersports Series.

The McKinnis mark was left on the FLW Tour, which he helped establish, as well as the Redfish Cup and the Madfin Shark Series. 

"Jerry was a true friend of the angler," said Bruce Akin, CEO of B.A.S.S. "He contributed so much to the sport of fishing, extending all the way from his 'Fishin Hole' days on through his ownership of B.A.S.S."

He was a member of the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame, the National Fishing Hall of Fame and the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.

According to, the infection that sent McKinnis to the hospital was believed to have stemmed from a recent fishing trip to Wyoming. He is survived by three sons and a daughter.

The article also stated that Bassmaster will have further information on funeral arrangements in the coming days.