Bass fishing honors innovators

One of many things I love about my job is that it teaches me something new every day.

This week I learned about Glen Andrews of Lead Hill, one of three people inducted Monday into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame over the weekend at the White River Conference Center in Springfield, Mo. Also inducted were Bruce Holt and Michael Iaconelli.

Andrews, 93, was inducted on the strength of his for his pioneering contributions to bass fishing in the 1960s during the early days of tournament fishing. A release issued Monday by the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame said that Andrews won multiple state bass fishing championships in the 1960s, and he contributed to the establishment of tournament rules that govern the sport even now.

Andrews is probably best known for developing fishing techniques that are now worldwide standards. Most notably of these is the Andrews Slip Sinker Worm, now known as the Texas Rig. As the late Johnny Carson would have said, "I did not know that!"

Bobby Murray of Hot Springs, a two-time Bassmaster Classic winner and Bill Dance said that Andrews was the best bass angler to have ever lived. Both said that Andrews was a mentor.

"This has got to be one heck of a big extravaganza since it only comes around every 92 years," Andrews said in his acceptance speech. "I may not know as many good stories as Bill Dance, but some of mine are true!"

Holt, who died in 2021, spent more than 30 years with G. Loomis in various positions and played a central role in helping grow the profile of the G. Loomis rod brand, especially in the bass category. I met him in 2013 at the Bassmaster Classic in Tulsa. We had a wide-ranging conversation in which he explained the origin of the distinctive G Loomis "Fossil Fish" logo, as well as a salty confrontation with a crabby old man that turned out to be Ted Williams, arguably the greatest hitter in Major League Baseball history. That confrontation led to Williams taking a prominent role in promoting the G. Loomis brand.

We have a soft spot for Iaconelli, the only angler to win the Bassmaster Classic (2003), the BASS National Championship, and Bassmaster Angler of the Year.

We met Iaconelli in 2005 at a Bassmaster Elite 50 tournament at Lake Dardanelle. Brash and explosive, he was the most charismatic figure in fishing at that time. He was the perfect foil to Kevin VanDam, a cool, aloof assassin of a character who had not yet risen to the status as the greatest of all time. Both had won one Classic, and they battled for supremacy, often contentiously.

Shortly after, Iaconelli alienated many bass fishing fans at the 2006 Classic at Lake Toho in Florida when he was filmed during an emotional outburst that ended with him kicking an American flag into the water.

That was one side of Ike. His other side earned our genuine respect and warmth. He drew big crowds, and he never turned down a request to autograph something for a fan or to pose for a photo. Even when I criticized him sharply, he never declined my requests for interviews. He was always candid and introspective.

My favorite moment with Ike was at the 2017 Classic in Houston. We had a stream-of-consciousness chat that covered, among many things, things he thinks about in the slow moments of a tournament. Nothing he said was suitable for publication, but it was priceless and hilarious.

He truly earned my admiration at a different Elite Series tournament at Lake Dardanelle. The competition was tight and he was in contention as he fished the jetty at Lake Dardanelle State Park. A small boy fishing from the jetty caught a bass a few feet from Ike and held it aloft. That would have been a tense moment with a lot of tournament anglers.

Iaconelli caught a fish a few seconds later. He held his fish aloft for the boy to see and said, "Look! I caught one too!" He said it as if they were buddies fishing together, and he delighted the boys.

The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame did its homework with this class. I will offer a thought of appreciation for Andrews this week when I cast a Texas-rigged lizard for bass on an Arkansas stream.