Every sport has its heroes – those people whose exemplary actions cause them to stand out among others, becoming household names for fans around the world. Bass fishing is no different. While many non-fishermen may not recognize these names, they’re well-known and respected to the bass fishing experts.
The name that all bass fishermen know is Ray Scott. Scott founded the Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society – the biggest bass fishing society in the US. He also created a number of fishing tournaments under the BASS society, including the Bassmaster Classic – the most well-known bass fishing tournament in the US. Today, fishermen know Scott as the father of modern-day bass fishing and an activist for many issues important to fishermen.
Michael Iaconelli is another very well-known bass fisherman who hails from New Jersey. He was named one of the top 100 amateur bass fishermen by BASS in 1994, when he was only 22. He would go on to win BASS’s premiere event – the Bassmaster Classic – in 2003. In 2006, Iaconelli was named the Bassmaster Angler of the Year, one of the most prestigious titles a bass fisher can achieve.
Today, Iaconelli hosts a fishing show on the Versus network and has co-authored his own autobiography. An interesting side-note about Iaconelli is that he has the dubious honor of being named one of the ten most hated athletes by GQ magazine, perhaps because of his signature scream that he lets lose whenever he catches a large fish.
Kevin VanDam is another fisherman who’s widely respected as one of the top bass fishermen in the world. Born in Michigan, VanDam quickly made a name for himself as a fisherman with the ability to catch bass under just about any condition – including storms. He has been named the BASS society’s Angler of the Year three times, won its Bassmaster Classic twice, and was named the ESPN Outdoor Sportsman of the Year in 2002. VanDam is nowhere near done either, and he continues to compete professionally. As of the end of the 2007 season, he was the top ranked bass fisherman in the world.
Luke Clausen is another popular bass fisherman who has just recently come onto the bass fishing scene. While he’s been an amateur fisherman for years, his win of the 2006 Bassmaster Classic launched him into bass fishing magazines and television shows across the nation. When asked why he fishes, Clausen responded “I fish to make a living, and I love to fish. I love the challenge each day. Every place we go to is different.”
Of course, there are many bass fishermen across the world, and not all the famous ones are from the US. For example, the 2004 Bassmaster Classic winner, was Takahiro Omori, a Japanese angler who was living in Texas at the time. Bass fishermen in Japan, Australia, and South Africa often compete in their own tournaments and travel to the US to challenge pros like Iaconelli, VanDam, and Clausen in various tournaments. If you’re just getting started with the sport of bass fishing, studying and learning from these pros is a great way to get going quickly.