When did the modern era of professional bass fishing begin?
Was it in the 60s, 70s, 80s, or more recently? I’m not sure we need to pick one specific line of demarcation, but clearly there have been events and personalities that have irrevocably shifted the landscape.
That’s true of any sport. In baseball, the game experienced major change at the end of the dead ball era in the 1920s. The integration of the Major Leagues by Jackie Robinson in 1947 had a similarly substantial impact on the on-field product. The rise of free agency in the 1970s didn’t necessarily change the on-field product, but it altered the balance from team to team. Football has had similarly seismic shifts – like the allowance of the forward pass and the AFL/NFL merger, although probably not the Ickey Shuffle.
Since Ray Scott created B.A.S.S. the popular mythology might have you believe that there have been three pivotal anglers whose rise shifted the sport forward. First there was Roland Martin, who popularized the concept of pattern fishing. Then there was Rick Clunn, who made it clear that what’s between your ears matters as much as what’s on the end of your line. The third is Mike Iaconelli, whose scream-fest at the end of his 2003 Bassmaster Classic set up the stage for the next generation of media-savvy anglers.