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Bob Cobb’s Byline Chronicles The Sport of Pro Bass Fishing                                                   Back
 
 

HOT SPRINGS, Arkansas – Bob Cobb, the first editor of BASSMASTER Magazine and producer of the award-winning The BASSMASTERS television series, was honored May 25, 2002 along with five legendary anglers as inductees into the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in ceremonies at the Hot Springs Convention and Civic Center.

Cobb of Montgomery, Alabama joins pro fishing greats Jimmy Houston of Cookson , Oklahoma , Guido Hibdon of Gravois Mills , Missouri , and Denny Brauer of Camdenton, Missouri , lure manufacturer Cotton Cordell of Hot Springs, and Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, as inductees into the PBF Hall of Fame. 

Thirty-five years ago, as outdoor editor of the Tulsa, Oklahoma Tribune newspaper, at a press conference in Springdale, Arkansas Bob Cobb scribbled notes as Ray Scott revealed his vision to elevate bass fishing from a weekend recreation to a professional level sport.  After the meeting, Scott and Cobb talked.  Bonded, if you will.  Two strangers but with common desires to see bass fishing’s importance and acceptance grow in the sports world.

In 1967, if you couldn’t punt, dribble or hit it, sports pages didn’t report it.  Fishing was viewed as a relaxing, cork-and-bobber pastime.  To make the newspaper headlines there had to be a game.  Tournament-style bass fishing provided the W-L (winners-losers) standings.  Facts and figures the sports fan or sports reporters understand.

Ray Scott’s first All-American Invitational Bass Tournament at Beaver Lake in June 1967 proved the point.  But, it was only the launch point.  Remarkably the wheels stayed on and cast-for-cash bass fishing has become a reality.

Certainly, the “By Bob Cobb” byline has been along for the ride.  BASSMASTER Magazine’s status as the “Bible of Bass Fishing” is a point in pride for the former editor.  Taking over the job in 1969, Ray Scott introduced Bob Cobb as the “first editor that can read and write.”

The hand-written collection of manuscripts found in a cardboard box submitted by members of the fledgling Bass Anglers Sportsman Society’s 2,000-odd readers provided another launch pad.  Scrawled on sheets from a “Big Chief” tablet were how-to techniques, the wisdom of years of on-the-water experience, willingly being unveiled by the angler to fellow B.A.S.S. members.  As BASSMASTER Magazine’s editor Cobb eagerly discovered the many buried gems, marveling at the innovations and winning ways of the successful bass angler.

These were not the average outdoor adventure tales printed in the “Big 3’s” slick magazines based in New York City .  But, backwater bassers from the bayou telling how-to catch “green trout.”  BASSMASTER became an instruction manual on how-to find and catch more bass.

As the Bassmaster Tournament Trail developed, the proof was in the creel.  Tournaments, like a huge funnel, collected the raw fishing data and what dripped out at the final weigh-in provided pure how-to facts.  And, here the bass fishing stars – names like Bill Dance, Roland Martin and Tom Mann – began to shine and build bass angling’s heroes.

The formation of the B.A.S.S. News Service spread the story.  But, it was the idea for the BASS Masters Classic world championship spawned on a drive between Montgomery , Alabama and Atlanta , Georgia that proved the  promotional savvy of the Scott-Cobb tandem.  The “mystery tournament” concept caught the imagination of the outdoor, as well as, sports desk copy editors and the Associated Press wires.  Cobb’s way with words put the phrase “Test-of-the-Best” into the fishing jargon along with the “Gold In Them Thar Gills” characterized the play-for-pay-sport.

From 1969-1986, Cobb switched hats between BASSMASTER Magazine editor, to director of B.A.S.S. News Service, book author in cooperation with growing angling greats, Bill Dance, Tom Mann and Al Lindner and press director for the BASS Masters Classic as well as editor of the BASS Classic Report, the press Guide for the Classic.

In 1984, Rick Clunn won the Classic at Pine Bluff , Arkansas in dramatic fashion, an event that was magnified with the B.A.S.S. News Service’s first effort at uplinking satellite TV news coverage.  Clunn’s story was so compelling that the news clips were compiled into a 30-minute TV special and the program evolved into the popular “The BASSMASTERS” television series.

As producer/director of the “The BASSMASTERS”, Cobb assembled a team of top outdoor communicators, and the weekly half-hour program climbed to the top of the ratings on The Nashville Network (TNN).  The average weekend audience numbered over 1.3 million homes.

“The BASSMASTERS” went inside the B.A.S.S. Tournament Trail and showed weekend anglers how the pros solved the bass fishing puzzle.  With on-the-water reporters and video crews and a revealing graphic presentation, the how-to secrets of the pros were broadcast coast-to-coast.

Twice, “The BASSMASTERS” received the highest tribute from the TV cable industry, being nominated for the annual ACE Awards for excellence in programming.  Teaming with TNN, “The BASSMASTERS” crew produced the first “live” broadcast of the BASS Masters Classic in 1987 at Chickamauga Lake , Tennessee .

Cobb served in the dual roles as producer, director, writer and, at times, on-air host of “The BASSMASTERS” through the 1999 season on The Nashville Network, producing over 250 programs and BASS Masters Classic specials.  As the “first” editor of BASSMASTER Magazine, Cobb created a how-to reporting format with in-depth Tournament Trail coverage that at its peak reached over 650,000 B.A.S.S. members and readers worldwide.

Along the way, Cobb served on the original advisory board for Ray Scott’s Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, a member of the founding executive board of the Bass Research Foundation, the head of public relations for Zebco Fishing Tackle, honored as the Conservation Communicator of the Year by the Oklahoma Wildlife Federation and presented the Award of Merit by the American Association for Conservation Information, and a 1958 graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Radio-Journalism.

Currently, Cobb is information director for Ray Scott Outdoors, Inc., a fishing and marine industry marketing and consulting group based in Pintlala , Alabama .  Cobb and his wife, Barbara, make their home in Montgomery , Alabama .

 

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