The all-new Bass Fishing Hall of Fame celebrated its grand opening and honored the 2017 inductees at Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, located next to Bass Pro Shops National Headquarters in Springfield, MO.
The first expansion within Wonders of Wildlife since its grand opening in September 2017, the all-new permanent exhibit is a gift from Johnny Morris to the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.
Established in 1999, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame is an organization committed to celebrating and promoting the storied sport of bass fishing, serving as a shrine to the men, women and companies who have supported and elevated the sport. Located inside the Aquarium, the exhibit’s first-ever permanent home includes a fascinating collection of artifacts and memorabilia including authentic rods and reels, antique lures and historical photos. Several artifacts date back to the early days of competitive bass fishing tournaments in the 1960s, including the scale used to weigh record catches and the first Bassmaster Classic victory trophy.
The Hall of Fame exhibit features more than 60 members including Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston, Roland Martin, Johnny Morris, Ray Scott, President George H.W. Bush and many others. The 2017 inductees included the late Wade Bourne, Shaw Grigsby, Bob Sealy, Morris Sheehan, and Louie Stout, each recognized for their extraordinary contributions to the sport.
Admission to the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame is included with admission to Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium. With more than 1.5 miles of immersive trails to explore, the Aquarium features saltwater and freshwater exhibits home to more than 35,000 live animals including double-digit largemouth bass inside the Lunker Lake exhibit.
About The Inductees
A native of Clarksville, Tenn., Wade Bourne was a senior writer for Bassmaster for more than 40 years before his passing in 2016. A popular host of the In-Fisherman radio shows, he authored six books and more than 3,000 magazine articles in his career. Amongst countless other awards, Bourne was honored with the Homer Circle Fishing Communicator Award presented by the American Sportfishing Association and the Professional Outdoor Media Association, and induction into the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame and the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. Bourne also received Southeastern Outdoor Press Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Shaw Grigsby fished his first national tournament in 1977, 40 years ago this year. A former motorcycle racer, he became a full-time pro angler on the Bassmaster Tournament Trail in 1984, and since then has won nine Bassmaster tournaments, qualified for the Bassmaster Classic 16 times, and competed in four FLW championships. Known for his sight fishing expertise, in his fishing career with B.A.S.S. Grigsby has 60 top ten finishes and has won more than $2 million. To many of his fans, Shaw is the 20-year-plus host of One More Cast with Shaw Grigsby, airing on the Sportsman Channel.
Combining his love of fishing and his efforts to promote tourism and economic growth around Sam Rayburn Lake in Southeast Texas, Bob Sealy convinced Ray Scott to bring a Bassmaster event to the lake. From there, he worked his way into creating the world’s largest amateur bass tournament — the Big Bass Splash. Open only to amateurs, the Big Bass Splash events today have spread across the nation. During the past 33 years, Sealy’s idea to bring some competitive fun to bass fishing has paid out over $30 million dollars and raised more than $2.3 million dollars to support Ronald McDonald House Charities and the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In 2015, he was inducted into the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame.
Retiring from the U.S. Army after 20 years of service, Morris Sheehan purchased the Military Bass Anglers Association and changed the name to American Bass Anglers. Through his leadership and foresight, ABA has become the largest tournament trail for weekend anglers, with more than 1,000 bass tournaments held annually. Sheehan’s efforts have given amateur anglers a place to hone their skills and the opportunity to gain the experience for competition in higher-level events. More than 35,000 anglers compete in ABA tournaments today. His contributions to the bass fishing industry have elevated him to a position of respect by all those he has touched.
Starting his writing career in daily newspapers, Louie Stout sold his first article to Bassmaster in the early 1980s. He has been a full-time freelance writer specializing in bass fishing since 1987, and has covered every Bassmaster Classic since 1979. The co-author of three successful books about bass fishing with seven-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam, Stout was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2005, and in 2013 was awarded the Homer Circle Fishing Communicator Award. He continues his senior writer/boating role for Bassmaster Magazine, his long-time outdoor column in the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune, and even though newspaper ink flows through his veins, Stout also keeps anglers and hunters informed and entertained with his website, www.michianaoutdoorsnews.com.