Who Was Virgil Ward?

Virgil Ward (left) and Smokey Falls display a hefty stringer of largemouth bass from Table Rock Lake on Ward's Spider Spins.

Virgil Ward (right) and Smokey Falls display a hefty stringer of largemouth bass from Table Rock Lake on Ward’s Spider Spins. Photo Don Fuelsch’s 1964 Southern Anglers and Hunters Guide.

Many of our “older” readers will certainly recognize the name, and even more so, remember his fishing show. As a pioneer in television fishing shows, Virgil Ward set the standard by which most all modern fishing shows followed when he created “Championship Fishing.” But you can’t be successful in television if you’re not successful on the water. Ward was both. As one of the earliest tournament competitors, he won the 1962 World Series of Sport Fishing, an event created and run by Sports Illustrated photographer and promoter Hy Peskin. He also created the Bass Buster Lure Company, maker of the infamous “Beetle” (Beetle Spin), and put lakes such as Table Rock and Norfork, amongst others, on the map as lunker bass destinations.

For a great look into the life and times of Virgil, here are two pieces of media dug up from the files. The first is a short article from Don Fuelsch’s 1964 Southern Anglers and Hunters Guide that looks at the 1962 WSOSF winner and bait maker. It’s presented below in whole.

 

A 1964 article on Virgil Ward. From Don Fuelsch's Southern Anglers and Hunters Guide.

A 1964 article on Virgil Ward. From Don Fuelsch’s Southern Anglers and Hunters Guide.

 

The second piece of history is a 10 minute video segment covering these and many other topics. Ranger Boats creator Forrest Wood, In’ Fisherman co-founder Al Linder and Bass Pro Shops’ Johnny Morris all make cameo appearances in this clip, along with some great historical footage of old boats, old baits, and good times.

 

  • Andy Williamson

    Great piece, Brian. I would almost swear that’s Virgil on the right, in the top photo, but it is hard to tell.

    • Terry Battisti

      Andy, that is Virgil on the right. My bad for making the typo. Click on the picture and it will expand. You can then read the original caption.