CELEBRATION, Fla. — Ray Wilson Scott, Jr. did not invent bass fishing, but for millions of avid anglers all around the world, he might as well have.

Scott was a Montgomery, Ala., insurance salesman on a business trip to Jackson, Miss., on March 11, 1967, when the idea for professional bass fishing struck him. He was watching a basketball game in his motel room when he started to wonder why competitive fishing wasn’t on television like baseball, basketball and football.

“In a microsecond I saw it all,” Scott recalled in his biography, BASS Boss. “I saw a hundred bass fishermen competing, tournament-style. It just came to me. I knew it would work.”

Later that year, Scott conducted the first modern bass tournament, the All-American on Arkansas’ Beaver Lake, June 5-7, 1967. A year after that, Scott created the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society. BASS now is the largest fishing organization in the world with more than 530,000 members.

That he founded BASS and created the modern tournament format would have been enough to cement Scott’s place in fishing history, but he was just getting started.

In the early 1970s, Scott and other BASS pioneers formed the BASS Chapter Federation, a group of BASS-affiliated clubs across the country and the world. Today, the Federation Nation covers 47 states and six foreign countries with more than 20,000 members. These anglers are the grass roots of BASS and have been instrumental in effecting positive change through legislation, activism and local conservation and youth projects.

In 1972, Scott brought catch-and-release to bass tournaments with his “Don’t Kill Your Catch” program. Over the years, it has caught on around the world. Because of Scott’s vision of the sport, bass are considered a renewable resource.

In the mid-70s, Scott and BASS began working for the passage of the Sport Fishing Restoration Act, also known as Wallop-Breaux. Signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, the act established a federal excise tax on fishing and boating equipment with proceeds used for restoration and access programs by state fisheries agencies.

In 1986, Scott sold BASS to a group of investors, but he has continued to serve as a spokesman and ambassador for the organization. His tireless devotion to sportfishing, conservation, youth and the multibillion dollar industry he helped to create serves as an inspiration to all who know him.

Apart from his induction into numerous fishing and sporting halls of fame, Scott has been named one of the 20 greatest outdoor Americans of the 20th century. There’s no doubt that he’s been the most influential person in BASS and the world of bass fishing.

Daily tournament launches of the Bassmaster Legends on the Arkansas River in Little Rock begin at 6:50 a.m. and weigh-ins begin at 3:30 p.m. CT, at the Statehouse Convention Center, Aug. 24-27. Fishing fans that can’t make it to the weigh-in can see the tournament Sept. 2 at 10 a.m. on ESPN2

Local sponsors include the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Sponsors of the Bassmaster Majors include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Advance Auto Parts and Theraseed®.

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.

BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit http://www.bassmaster.com.