Ray Scott Outdoors





RAY SCOTT                                                                          Back to Biography
Biography of an Outdoor Legend

According to FIELD & STREAM Magazine, he walks with the outdoor gods:  Individuals like Teddy Roosevelt, Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold.  He is among the “Twenty Who Have Made A Difference” in the American outdoors over the past century.

Following in the footsteps of such American legends, Ray W. Scott, Jr. has achieved his own legacy as the “Bass Boss,” the founder of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.), the Whitetail Institute of North America, and as publisher framed the foundation for successful outdoor publications, including BASSMASTER Magazine, Southern Outdoors, Fishing Tackle Retailer, and the award-winning national television series “The BASSMASTERS”, the highest rated program on The Nashville Network (TNN).

His climb to the heights began with a “brainstorm in a rainstorm” in 1967 on a fishing trip to Jackson, Mississippi.  Bunkered in a motel room after being rained out by a passing storm, Scott, a dedicated bass angler, clicked the channels on the TV set.  To his disappointment finding the only sport, a professional basketball game.

As he started to dose, Scott mumbled out loud, “Why doesn’t someone cover fishing on TV.  There’s more folks fishing, than playing basketball?”

Suddenly, the light went on inside Ray Scott’s mind.  He bolted upright in the bed.  In a single instance he experienced a true vision.  One that would change the future of fishing, create a new bass fishing industry, spawn bass fishing heroes and provide the conservation leadership to protect the resource for the future.

It was all clear in his spontaneous revelation.  Scott would conduct a competitive fishing tournament.  Not a local “buddy” tournament but a true national bass fishing tournament.   In 1967, this was unplowed ground.  Fishing was for relaxing.  Not competition.  As to “bass fishing,” the lordly trout held the high ground and claimed more coverage in the slick “Big 3” outdoor magazines, officed in way off New York City.


The Birth of B.A.S.S.

But, Scott’s keen scope of understanding had begun to strike “Gold in them Thar Gills.”  He has an uncanny knack for thinking outside the tacklebox.

His marketing plan.  “Bubba Power.”  Get the good ol’ boys turned on to the bass fishing sport.  Make it a club – the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society – the acronym spelled B.A.S.S.

An exclusive club, dedicated to the black bass only.  “If you mess with musky or piddle with perch, you don’t belong in B.A.S.S.” was Scott’s message.

Scott’s first All-American Invitational Bass Tournament in June 1967 at Beaver Lake in northwest Arkansas lured 106 anglers from 15 states.  A major marketing coup for the time.

What began with four names on a 4 x 5 card in a metal box would swell to over 650,000 worldwide members as BASSMASTER Magazine would become respected as the “Bible of Bass Fishing,” and carry Scott’s bassin’ message around the globe. 

During the formative years of B.A.S.S. in 1968-1970 Scott realized the Bassmaster Tournament Trail would provide the springboard to turn the bass fishing sport into an information-age highway long before the advent of the wired-world and internet.

Tournament results, the on-the-water bass fishing proving grounds, served as a huge funnel of raw fishing data.  What dripped out on the final weigh-in platform was pure how-to information and priceless proven ways to find and catch more bass.

With his bassin’ brotherhood eager to learn the winning ways, Scott took to the highway.  Town to town and city to city.  A 9-month series of 101 one-night bass fishing seminars from coast to coast.  On the program were, the special secrets from shallow-water expert John Powell, a plastic worm fishing expert, and a technical Roland Martin, who would become one of the sport’s all-time great tournament fishermen, winning 19 B.A.S.S. titles over the next 30 years.

“We were teaching fishing and preaching anti-pollution,” recalls Scott.  And along the way building an army of over 3,000 conservation-minded bass clubs.  Later the clubs would band into state B.A.S.S. Federations and unite under a national B.A.S.S. Federation banner to assemble a minuteman army for numerous conservation causes and achievements for the angling resource.

Such was the efforts of the fledgling Chattanooga, Tennessee Bass Club and its President Harold Sharp to “Peg Polluters” in the all-out clean up of the industrial waste being dumped into his area streams and lakes.  The landmark case was the centerpiece for Scott’s efforts to end the use of the nation’s waterways as sewers for industrial discharge.

With B.A.S.S. members on the prowl and on guard for unregulated dumping, Scott and Company filed over 200 lawsuits against polluters during 1970-71 across Alabama, Tennessee and Texas.  Today, these closed cases of fouled waters provide many man-hours of fruitful fishing.


Catch and Release

As controversial as Scott seemed, pitting the bass against all other species, it was a trout angler that switched on another bright light in Scott’s head.  Attending a Federation of Fly Fisherman’s conclave in Colorado, Scott watched a fly-rodder catch a small 12-inch trout.  Then later he experienced an awakening as he watched the catch-and-release ceremony the angler and his fishing companions observed in releasing the trout.

It was then that Scott’s idea for “Don’t Kill Your Catch” bass fishing tournaments was born.  Among Ray Scott’s many contributions his concept of catch-and-release may well be the most lasting legacy.  Today over 98 percent of the bass weighed-in during national B.A.S.S. tournaments return alive to the waters and the release percentage is equally high among other fishing groups, bass clubs and individual anglers.

His way with words and Southern-brand of Bubba bassin’ caught the attention of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Magazine’s writer Robert Boyle, who relayed Scott’s message.  The article, “A Big BASS bash in Arkansas”, (Oct. 20, 1969) pictured Scott in the bow of a sharp-nosed Skeeter bass rig and the notation: “Ray Scott rides herd on the watery range of bass fishermen who are crawling out from behind every stump to join his organization. 

Boyle, who in 1999 would write the best-selling book on the life and times of Ray Scott, “Bass Boss,” observed in his opening paragraph of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED some 30 years previously: 

“When it comes to black bass, Ray Scott of Montgomery, Ala., has a silver tongue and a golden touch.  Scott is president and chairman of the board of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, succinctly known as BASS, and when he talks about bass – largemouth, smallmouth and Kentucky spotted – he comes on like a revival preacher painting the glories of paradise gained.”

Scott took his bass fishing pulpit to national TV programs like NBC’s “Today Show,” ABC’s primetime “Dick Cavett Show,” and on the ABC Network’s acclaimed “20/20” news program.

Famed New York Times sports columnist Red Smith upon seeing Ray Scott remove his customary cowboy Stetson and start a tournament with a prayer said: “This Alabama bassman, Ray Scott, does things in a unique fashion.  It’s the first time I’ve ever seen anyone address the Lord through a bullhorn!”

Scott’s prayer made two points to the contrary:  (1) “Lord, let the bass bite.”  (2) And, “please bring everyone back safely.”

Boating Safety

“Boating Safety” rules as the watchword and guiding principle of the Bassmaster Tournament Trail.  Scott’s concern is more than lip-service.  Since 1968 his tournament rules have required contestants to wear a Coast Guard-approved life vest anytime the big engine cranked.  Scott’s campaign to install an automatic outboard shut-off device in the event the driver is thrown from the console, pushed a reluctant outboard manufacturers in the mid-1970s to make the “kill switch” a standard safety feature.

President Jimmy Carter appointed Ray Scott to the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Boating Safety Advisory Council as evidence of his impact.

Scott is still onboard, concerning boating safety issues.  In 1994, he worked to help pass into law the nation’s first comprehensive Boating Safety Reform Act in his home state of Alabama.  The law makes boat operator certification mandatory and requires completion of a written exam to operate a boat in the state.  As a result of the boat operator’s license, deaths on Alabama’s waterways have been reduced by over 50 percent.

As a long-standing proponent of personal flotation devices (PFDs) Scott mandated the wear of life vests in bass fishing tournaments when the big engine was running.  In Scott’s opinion, the next step in boating safety is to pass a “mandatory lifejacket rule” to require the life vest be worn at all times while boating.

Scott is best known as the founder of the world’s largest bass fishing organization (B.A.S.S.), but boating safety and saving lives may be his legacy.  The National Safe Boating Council honored Scott as a 2002 inductee into the Boating Safety Hall of Fame.  “This distinction honors individuals who have shown exemplary leadership and performed outstanding service on behalf of safe boating,” said Virgil Chambers, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council. 

A Legend in His Time

During the summer of 1998, OUTDOOR LIFE celebrated its 100th anniversary, publishing a special collector’s edition, and honored the “top fishing innovations of the past 100 years.”

Ole Evinrude’s one-cylinder outboard in April 1909 topped the list.  “Don’t Row!  Throw the Oars Away!” primed the fishing evolution.  Nylon (monofilament) fishing line by du Pont and the first American-made spinning reel, the “Spinmaster,” marketed following World War II changed the way folks fished.  The dawning of fiberglass fishing rods, the use of SONAR developed in the war years and Carl Lowrance’s famous “Little Green Box” changed where and how bass anglers fished. 

“Environmental Awareness,” the passage of the 1972 Clean Waters Act and the national ban of DDT credited to zoologist Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring – warning of impending environmental doom – the reclaiming of the Great Lakes fishery and massive TVA dam building projects and creation of huge reservoirs were all heralded in OUTDOOR LIFE’s list of “Ten Keepers.”

But, the “Bass Boom” – credited to the “flash of brilliant intuition that catapulted insurance salesman Ray Scott from his motel bed in March 1967” – promoted a significant change in sportfishing in the next three decades.  As writer Jerry Gibbs noted, “The burgeoning sport triggered a wave of tackle and boating innovations, and elevated black bass into its position as the nation’s favorite gamefish.”

Investing in the Future

Perhaps, the OUTDOOR LIFE list let “one get away” that’s resulted in the investment of millions of angler’s dollars in the nation’s fisheries.  The passage of the Sport Fish Restoration Act, known as the Wallop-Breaux Fund, in July 1984 allowed a small excise tax on fishing tackle and related marine items to fund fishing’s future.

Oddly, the marine industry lobby and some tackle manufacturers opposed the “tax” as a business albatross.  The tax tug-of-war dragged out over seven years despite the best efforts of the Sportfishing Institute to gain Congressional support.

As head of the world’s largest fishing organization, Ray Scott lined up with the Sportfishing Institute’s Carl Sullivan as the strongest supporting voice.  But, it was a comment “about the gridlock” made to then Vice President George Bush that pulled the legislative strings.

Scott served as Alabama’s chairman in the 1979 George Bush presidential campaign, a bond sealed by Bush’s interest in fishing.  Later, as national chairman of “Outdoorsmen and Conservationists for Regan-Bush” election, Scott had numerous opportunities to discuss conservation and fishing issues with George Bush during his successful campaign for the White House 1988. 

During his presidential years, George Bush was asked about his favorite reading material.  The President answered: “BASSMASTER Magazine, a fishing periodical.”  An avid angler, President Bush frequently fished for largemouth bass on Ray Scott’s private 55-acre lake near Pintlala, Alabama.  A well-known trophy bass fishery – that Scott has named the “Presidents Lake” – in light of the fishing trips by both George Bush and his son, George W. Bush, also, an avid bass angler.  Both the former U.S. Presidents are lifetime members of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society.

Scott’s association with the Bush clan continues.  He was among a special group invited to the White House for the “National Safe Boating Week, 2001” proclamation signing by President George W. Bush.  It marked the 30th anniversary of the Federal Boat Safety Act and called attention to the North American Safe Boating Campaign of “Boat Smart From the Start!  Wear Your Life Jacket.”

Quality Fishing Water

Next to boating safety Ray Scott is on a continuing conservation crusade to control the dumping of aquatic herbicides – “chemical poisons” – in public fishing waters.  Scott’s concerned not only for the safety of “drinking waters,” but the rampant destruction of fish habitat and destroying of bass fisheries.

Scott’s alternate means of controlling weeds in reservoirs is by using mechanical harvesters to reduce unwanted exotic plants rather than herbicides that destroy valuable habitat.  Such is the program being tested, and strongly supported by Scott, in Texas.  A coalition of conservation groups, called S.M.A.R.T. (Sensible Management of Aquatic Resources Team) has been instrumental in promoting the safe and sensible approach to the “War on Weeds” in Texas.

One such “battle” was avoided at Lake Bastrop, when Scott and the S.M.A.R.T. team stepped in to stop the dumping of weed killers.  As a demonstration, Scott worked with the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) to provide a mechanical weed harvester to clear “lanes” and launching ramps.  Then Governor of Texas George W. Bush operated the weed harvester and encouraged the lake and water authorities to consider all safe and sensible means to control weed problems in public waters.

Ironically, Scott also organized a fisherman’s protest on Lake Guntersville in north Alabama over the proposed plan by the TVA to return to using chemical aquatic herbicides on the Tennessee River impoundment.  A 600-boat parade stopped traffic and halted the proposed chemical spraying of weeds.  A previous program had reduced and destroyed the habitat and in the opinion of concerned anglers, wiped out a “great trophy bass fishery.”  The compromise with limited spraying around boat docks and launch ramps and the use of mechanical means has seen a renewal in Guntersville’s excellent bass fishing.

A Career in Deer

As founder of the Whitetail Institute of North America, Inc. Ray Scott has returned to the hunting resource, what “Catch and Release” accomplished for the bass anglers.  Based on reports by Boone & Crockett and Pope and Young record keepers more “trophy class” bucks have been reported during recent years than anytime in history.  Since Ray started the Whitetail Institute, the number of big racks has increased over 400 percent.

A great part of the dramatic change is due to Ray Scott’s funding and research into quality deer management and making deer hunters aware of nutritional food supplements for whitetail deer.

As a deer hunter, Scott planted “food plots” and realized their attraction for luring deer into shooting range.  But, by happenstance, Scott planted a small strip of “clover” in a field with the traditional forage plantings of wheat and oats.  Much to Scott’s amazement, deer walked over the others to feed on the clover.

Scott’s light seems to always click on brightest with a “why not” idea.  So, why not develop a special product for growing bigger deer.  Thus, the Whitetail Institute’s Imperial Whitetail Clover seed was introduced and has revolutionized the food plot and deer management business.  Continuing research has provided a year-round nutritional program and well-researched products for trophy deer management.  

The findings of the Whitetail Institute’s research and field reports and how-to instruction are published in “WHITETAIL NEWS,” published three times a year and reaches over an estimated 500,000 readers. The Whitetail Institute is headquartered on Ray Scott’s ranch near Pintlala, Alabama and operated by a staff of over 20 with sons, Wilson and Steve Scott, as vice presidents of Operation and Marketing.

But, it is as “Mr. B.A.S.S.”, the founder of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, that Ray Scott has most likely left his indelible mark on the outdoors world.  From the Society’s organization in 1968, for over three decades, Ray Scott was the “face” on the B.A.S.S. patch.  He was the master of ceremonies for the world championship BASS Masters Classic, an event that debuted as a “mystery location tournament” in 1971 at Lake Mead, Nevada and went on to achieve “Super Bowl” status for bass fishing professionals, providing the champion with a potential payout of over $1 million bucks.  With Ray Scott on center stage, the Classic weigh-ins reeled in amazing spectator interest with over 25,000 fans at the indoor weigh-ins.

New Dreams

Scott continued his on-stage role as the “Bass Boss” after selling B.A.S.S. in 1986 to a group of company investors.  But, in 1998 Scott walked off the stage to launch another long-time “dream.”

A pitchman and salesman at heart, since his early days of selling “red hot peanuts” at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl to football fans, Scott is taking full advantage of his well-schooled marketing abilities and celebrity status.  Ray Scott Outdoors, Inc., is a full-service marketing and consulting firm for the best of the fishing tackle and marine industry.

Scott, complete with his trademark Stetson, is now national spokesman for Carolina Electric Boats of Benson, NC – maker of the revolutionary Twin Troller X10, Dexter-Russell, Inc. of Southbridge, Massachusetts – the largest manufacturer of professional cutlery in the United States, Kasco Marine of Prescott, Wisconsin – a leader in products that promote healthy water quality in ponds and lakes, Nutritek, Inc. of Salem, Oregon – Nutri Shield all natural deet-free insect repellents,  Purina Mills of Gray Summit, Missouri – the U. S. leader in animal nutrition products, research and innovation, and is the largest feed manufacturer in the country, Running Moose Publications of Clinton Township, Michigan – producer of Adventures with Jonny - a series of books teaching kids the joy of fishing and Sweeney Enterprises, Inc. of , the oldest manufacturer of wildlife feeders and automated nutritional feeding systems for fish and game,  

At an age when most successful entrepreneurs think about retirement, Ray Scott has yet to pull on the reins.  His vision is still a gleaming light and his personal popularity at its highest.

He is a popular motivational “no-notes” speaker who has addressed a wide range of gatherings.  Whether he is speaking about his personal marketing philosophy, fishing, his own rags-to-riches story or delivering an inspirational message, he has brought audiences to standing ovations.

As an innovator in the fishing tackle industry, Ray Scott has developed a Sportackle™ System for light-line fishing, a concept for catching more bass with 4-pound test line.  Scott’s special designed Sportackle™ spinning rods in 6.9-foot single-piece and two-piece are lightweight, but capable of battling big bass.  “Put the sport back in sportfishing” is Ray’s goal.

As a builder of trophy bass lakes an expert on big bass management, Ray Scott’s thumbprint is showing up in residential developments, much as Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses surround resort properties.

The Eddleman Properties, Inc. in Birmingham, Alabama made a decision to call in Ray Scott to design and develop special bass lakes to lure potential home site customers.  Because of Ray Scott’s name recognition and a solid marketing plan, the third stage of the upscale 1,700-acre Highland Lakes residential community, including three lakes, is almost sold out.

For do-it-yourself pond builders or landowners in need of restoring an old lake, Scott has produced a three-set video series on “Complete Guide to Creating GREAT SMALL WATERS.”  How to build, stock and manage small waters for trophy-class bass and tips for rehabilitation of older or unproductive lakes are covered in detail in the over two hours of video instruction.  The expert advice will work in small ponds covering only one acre up to 100-acre lakes. 

Robert H. Boyle’s 336-page account of the “Bass Boss” captures the inspiring story of Ray Scott and the sportfishing industry he created.  Both entertaining and inspiring, it’s the insider’s look at the personalities, fishing pros, the technology and the events that shaped the multi-billion dollar bass fishing industry.  It’s a story of vision, determination, perseverance and faith that will inspire anglers and non-anglers alike.  For readers seeking the secret to Ray Scott’s marketing success, his earlier book, “Prospecting & Selling: From a Fishing Hole to a Pot of Gold,” is a must read.



Ray Scott Outdoors

Ray Scott Outdoors, Inc  2008 All Rights Reserved     1-800-518-7222             Designed & Hosted by GTI