One of the most influential figures in modern bass angling, and the founder of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, Ray Scott, has passed away. He was 88 years old. He is survived by his four children and his wife, Susan.
According to Bassmaster.com, Scott died in his sleep from natural causes on Sunday, May 8, 2022.
Many people credit Scott with being one of the most influential figures in modern bass fishing, mostly thanks to his founding of B.A.S.S. and the Bassmaster tournament trail in the late 1960s. He was sometimes called the "father" or "Godfather" of modern bass fishing.
B.A.S.S. CEO Chase Anderson reacted to the news in a statement shared by Bassmaster.com, praising Scott's devotion to growing the sport of bass fishing, and the legacy he leaves behind.
"Our entire organization was saddened to hear about the passing of our founder Ray Scott," Anderson told Bassmaster. "Ray's contributions and impact on conservation and his advocacy and passion for anglers and our sport set the standard for tournament fishing and are something we will always strive to uphold."
Scott grew up during the Great Depression but eventually got accepted to Auburn, where he earned a degree in Business Administration and started selling life insurance. However, he was a visionary who saw the potential for competitive bass fishing before almost everyone else in the industry. Scott noted the popularity of golf as a broadcast sport and speculated it could be the same for professional fishing. He started the Bassmaster Tournament Trail in 1967 and B.A.S.S. the following year. This led to the launch of the "Super Bowl of Bass Fishing," the Bassmaster Classic, as well as Bassmaster Magazine, and the popular TV show Bassmasters.
He was also one of the early supporters of more advanced boater safety, and perhaps most notably, the catch-and-release movement. After witnessing a trout angler practicing catch and release in Colorado, it got him wondering if the concept would work with bass. In 1972, he decided to find out. Scott started a "Don't kill your catch" campaign and started mandating the use of live wells to keep fish alive during a tournament so they could be released afterwards. The ripple effects of this campaign can still be felt to this day, with most of today's bass anglers often releasing the fish they catch.
His other conservation efforts included work in water quality improvement efforts in the 1970s. Bassmaster reports Scott was behind 200 lawsuits dealing with anti-pollution, efforts that eventually led to the Clean Water Act of 1972. Scott was also heavily involved in the passing of the Wallop-Breaux Sportfish Restoration Amendment of 1984. Scott was friends with George H.W. Bush, and it was through that friendship that he helped ensure the Amendment was passed.
Scott eventually sold B.A.S.S., although he continued to work with the organization and the Bassmaster Classic for years after the fact. He also formed the Whitetail Institute, which focuses on producing feed and food plot products for deer hunting.
Over the years, Scott earned many awards and accolades for his efforts in conservation and the promotion of fishing. He was one of the first members inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, won the 1988 Sport Fisherman of the Year Award, the 2003 Horatio Alger Award, and a spot in the National Boating Safety Hall of Fame. Scott eventually retired and lived the rest of his life in quiet on a farm in Alabama.
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