Economy has forced changes in nation's fishing industry

November 8, 2010 9:02:00 AM



Ever since I was a young guy fishing in a flat-bottom boat in ponds and backwater areas of the river, I dreamed of fishing in the Bassmaster Classic. 


The Bassmaster Classic is considered by fishermen as the "Super Bowl of Fishing." 


With the wreck of the economy, there have been several changes in the bass fishing world over the last year. 


Boat companies have either closed its doors or have been sold. Business sponsors of tour-level professional fishermen have withdrawn support for the sport. 


Now the latest is that ESPN has sold the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society. 


It was announced in August that ESPN would sell B.A.S.S. 


B.A.S.S. was first conceived as an idea from legendary fisherman Ray Scott in 1967 in Alabama. Scott''s purpose was to grow fishing into a recognizable sport like baseball and football as well as promote conservation on and off the waters of the United States. 


Over the years, many changes happened and the sport of fishing grew. Tournaments began all over the United States and today, there are bass clubs and tournament trails in every state. We can thank Scott for this vision. 


Scott sold BASS and in 1991 ESPN purchased B.A.S.S. and basically bought the sport of bass fishing. 


ESPN brought better television coverage to the sport and bass fishing grew even more. 


Let''s face it, many companies make fishing products and they have become very successful because of the investors that have seen the impact B.A.S.S. has had on the weekend fisherman. 


The latest sale is reportedly to another group of investors: Don Logan, Jerry McKinnis, and Jim Copeland. 


McKinnis is no stranger to fishing and fishing shows. I have watched him for years on TV shows on the weekends. He was even a host on the Bassmasters for ages. 


I was unfamiliar with Don Logan, but ESPN''s website says that Logan was an executive for Time Inc., America Online, Time Warner Cable and Time Warner Book Group until his retirement in 2005. 


Jim Copeland retired as U.S. and Global CEO of international financial services firm Deloitte in 2003 and now serves on the board of directors of three Fortune 500 companies. 


B.A.S.S. is a business as well as a sport and it takes successful businessmen and women to keep everything growing. I look at this partnership of investors as two handling the business end and one growing the sport itself. I may be wrong but looking at the trio face value, it looks as if McKinnis is the ace-in-the-hole for our sport. 


ESPN has agreed to keep the television coverage on the air for the Bassmasters Elite Series and the Classic for several years.  


It will probably be a couple of months before we see the strategy and direction of the new owners. My hope is that a long-time outdoorsman like McKinnis will keep the sport growing in all areas besides the business end. 


Kevin Forrester is the Outdoor Writer at the Dispatch. Contact him by e-mail at [email protected]