Ray Scott, a consummate promoter who helped launch professional bass fishing and became a fishing friend of presidents while popularizing the conservation practice of catch-and-release fish, has died, a longtime adviser said Monday.
Scott died of natural causes at a rehabilitation center near Montgomery late Sunday, said Jim Kientz, who worked for Scott for more than two decades. He was 88.
A member of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, Scott founded the first professional bass fishing tournament in the late 1960s. Anglers could win money based on the weight of the fish they caught in a lake or river over several days, and were fined if a fish died.
Professional fishing took off and the Scott’s Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, or BASS, grew into what it calls the world’s largest fishing organization. His signature tournament, the Bassmaster Classic, features equipment shows that draw thousands of spectators.
For years, Scott — sporting a ubiquitous cowboy hat and a big grin — hosted the tournament weigh-in shows, where anglers pull live fish from holding tanks while thousands watched.
“He was one of the few who could just go ahead and light a stage that’s nobody’s business,” Kientz said. “He was the ultimate showman.”
Scott’s vision for bass fishing created an entire industry, said Chase Anderson, the current general manager of BASS, which Scott sold in 1986.
“Ray’s contributions and impact on conservation, as well as his advocacy and passion for anglers and our sport, set the standard for tournament fishing and we will always strive to uphold it,” he said in a statement.
At the height of his success, Scott had a rural area with a stocked fishing lake in the tiny, central Alabama community of Pintlala that attracted former Presidents George HW Bush and son George W. Bush.
The late First Lady Barbara Bush arrived on a New Year’s Day voyage in 1990 and held up a gigantic mounted bass in a boat while Scott laughed nearby. Over the years, Scott has hosted “a ton of other politicians and celebrities along the highway of life,” Kientz said.
Scott was interested in conservation and helped popularize today’s practice of catch-and-release fishing, in which sport anglers hook a fish and quickly return it to the water once it was caught in tournaments. He also advocated for safer boating, requiring tournament participants to wear life jackets and pushing for boat safety laws before starting a business selling deer hunting supplies.
Scott retired from the business a few years ago and still resides in Pintlala, Kientz said. Survivors include his wife, Susan, and four adult children, he said.
With mail wires
https://nypost.com/2022/05/10/ray-scott-bass-fishing-icon-dead-at-88/ Bass fishing icon Ray Scott has died aged 88