When you became a part of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society back in the day it was a big thing. It felt more like you were part of a club than just another magazine subscriber. The reason for this, in my opinion, was because of all the things B.A.S.S. was doing on the side. Not only were they a tournament organization who printed the only bass-centric magazine, they were fighting pollution and they also took the Catch-and-Release doctrine that the fly fishermen had for so long tried to push and actually got it to stick – with bubba bass anglers to boot.
We’ve written about the B.A.S.S.-backed Peg A Polluter campaign on here before in the two-part series, B.A.S.S.: More Than a Tournament Organization – Part One and Part Two. In that series Scott talked about how they came up with the notion to sue industry for dumping chemicals into the nation’s waterways and how they started the Peg A Polluter campaign. It was actions like this that made B.A.S.S. members feel like they were part of a bigger, well intentioned machine.
The other part of B.A.S.S. that in my eyes was amazing was Scott’s epiphany having to do with catch-and-release. Historically bass anglers caught their fish, placed them on a stringer and took them home to eat or give away. They turned their noses down at the trout anglers of the time who were releasing their fish back into the water to catch another day.
Yet the trout societies and club around the nation were having their own troubles getting anglers to do such a crazy thing.
Then one day Scott started hearing grumblings about these bass tournaments destroying lakes. Locals weren’t happy that all these professional bass fishermen were coming in and taking their fish all in one weekend. Scott thought about the subject and in fear of not being welcome and for fear of depleting the sacred bass and therefore bass tournaments, he started pushing for catch-and-release at all B.A.S.S. events.
This epiphany started the beginning of livewells being placed in bass boats, then went on to livewell aerators and eventually livewell additives – all to keep your fish alive. And if you didn’t bring your catch back alive, you were penalized for each dead fish.
It’s pretty amazing that as a collective group, bass anglers – stereotyped as Vienna sausage-eating bubbas with no teeth or education – played a major role in changing the world of fishing in less than a decade. All with the help of B.A.S.S.