History Of Bass Fishing
The history of bass fishing is long, storied, and surprisingly, not recounted all that often. Spanning over two centuries, the targeting of bass as a sport fishing species has grown to become the most popular type of sport fishing in the United States. Today, bass fishing is enjoyed by anglers across the country, in just about every state. Here’s a basic timeline of the history of bass fishing and how it has progressed over the years.
- Before the late 1700’s, bass fishing wasn’t specific. Freshwater fishing, in general, was an activity performed for sustenance as opposed for sport. But around the year 1770, an English craftsman named Onesimus Ustonson made the precursor to the baitcaster reel, now used almost exclusively in bass fishing. This was the first example of a product with the “sport” aspect of fishing in mind.
- In the late 1800’s, bass as a species gained popularity among anglers. With the rise of industrial society, people began to turn to bass fishing as a form of entertainment as opposed to just putting food on the table. In his book “The Book of the Black Bass,” Dr. James Henshall called bass “pound for pound, the gamest fish that swims” in reference to its fighting ability.
- Between 1910 and 1920, there were several advancements in artificial lures. This is significant in the history of bass fishing because today, artificial lures are widely considered the only sportsmanlike way to bass fish. In this ten year span, back fat from pork was used to make an artificial frog, a plug with a metal lip (now known as a crankbait) was developed, and the use of the spinnerbait was pioneered.
- Under Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Tennessee Valley Authority, bass stocking began in the 1930’s. The TVA was developed to create artificial reservoirs for hydroelectric power generation during FDR’s New Deal. As they created the reservoirs, they also stocked many with fish, including Largemouth and Smallmouth bass. With the new habitat springing up everywhere, bass fishing became much more accessible for many Americans.
- In 1948, Skeeter introduced the first boat designed exclusively for bass fishing. This new type of watercraft was made with plenty of floor space, storage areas, and a hull shape optimized to reach places where bass tended to congregate. Bass anglers responded very favorably, and other boat making companies soon jumped into the hot new market.
- In 1968, fisherman Ray Scott developed the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society. Perhaps the most important organization in the history of bass fishing, B.A.S.S., as it is known, organizes professional fishing tournaments worldwide for competitive anglers. Today, world class anglers compete for millions of dollars in cash prizes in the B.A.S.S. series of tournaments.
- From the 1970’s on, bass fishing took hold as one of America’s most popular sports. Tackle making companies quickly caught on to this revolution in fishing, introducing a plethora of new lures, rods, reels, and boating equipment to capitalize on its popularity. Thanks to millions of bass fishermen across the country, the past 40 years have seen many advances in equipment and technique for bass fishing. Today, it is estimated that the bass fishing industry is climbing to multi-billion dollar value levels as a whole. Meanwhile, it has become a sport near and dear to countless Americans which continues to grow and develop.