Fishing Superstars, Industry Pioneers To Be Inducted Into Bass Fishing Hall Of Fame

Six individuals who have helped make the black bass America’s most popular game fish have been selected for induction into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, the Hall’s board of directors announced today.

The Class of 2018, which will be inducted in ceremonies at Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium in Springfield on September 27, 2-018, includes two stars of professional bass fishing — Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., and Gary Klein of Mingus, Texas — and four leaders from the sportfishing industry and its media.

Also being inducted are Tommy Sanders of Little Rock, Ark., a veteran outdoor television host; Helen Sevier of Montgomery, Ala., former CEO of B.A.S.S.; Berkley Bedell of Naples, Fla., founder of Berkley and Co.; and Dr. James Henshall, a 19th Century author who is considered the father of bass fishing.

The inductees were nominated by members of the Hall of Fame and elected by a 30-member panel of sportfishing industry leaders, members of the outdoor media, professional anglers and members of the Hall of Fame.

“We on the board of directors are grateful for the efforts of the Selection Committee in identifying this year’s induction class,” said John Mazurkiewicz, vice president of the Hall of Fame Board and Nomination Committee chair. “The new selection process, which went into effect this year, helps ensure that we are again inducting some of the great pioneers in bass fishing.”

The six will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame museum, which opened last November within the Wonders of Wildlife complex at the flagship Bass Pro Shops store in Springfield. The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring anglers, manufacturers, innovators and media who have furthered the sport of bass fishing. On display in the museum are artifacts, photos and biographical information about 71 members of the Hall of Fame who have been inducted since 2001.

“Our first Induction Banquet and the grand opening of the new Hall of Fame facility at Wonders of Wildlife was incredibly successful, attracting both pioneers and current leaders of our sport as well as anglers and fans who are passionate about bass fishing,” said Donald Howell, BFHOF
Board president. “We are expecting a sell-out crowd on Sept. 27 as we honor the newest members of the Hall of Fame.”

Tickets to the banquet and information about the Hall of Fame and its mission are available at

About The Class Of 2018

Berkley Bedell — Born in Spirit Lake, Iowa, March 5, 1921, “Berk” Bedell began tying flies with dog hair and selling them to trout fishermen as a source of Depression-era income while he was still in high school. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Bedell began to expand his Berkley & Co., positioning it to become one of the largest fishing tackle companies in the world. The company launched Trilene fishing lines and added or acquired numerous other brands over the years. Bedell was elected to Congress in 1977 and served five terms. His son, Tom, served as CEO of the company, which became known as Pure Fishing in 1979.

Dr. James A. Henshall — Henshall (1836-1925) was the author of the first book on bass fishing, Book of the Black Bass in 1881, and was the sport’s earliest advocate of note. A surgeon by trade, he designed the most popular rod and reel of his day, though he chose to patent neither because he believed his creations should be available to all manufacturers and anglers. He was also an innovator in hatchery management during his time with the U.S. Fish Commission. Henshall predicted the decline of trout fishing and habitat as well as the rise of the bass in sportsmen’s eyes. Though he wrote extensively for several outdoor publications even to the end of his long life, he is probably best remembered for a single line in bass book: “I consider him, inch for inch and pound for pound, the gamest fish that swims.” It is still the greatest comment on the greatest of game fish.

Tommy Sanders — When one thinks of bass fishing television, Tommy Sanders rises to the top. The smooth, witty announcer has been the face of B.A.S.S. on television since 2000. Sanders is synonymous with outdoors TV, gracing ESPN Outdoors for more than a quarter century. Jerry McKinnis, a model of longevity with 44 years of The Fishin’ Hole, said he believes Sanders holds the distinction of appearing on the network more than any of the thousands of other personalities. Besides starting FLW coverage, Sanders has hosted Stihl Timbersports, the Great Outdoor Games and the wraparound segments for the ESPN Outdoors block. But he’s mainly known as the host of The Bassmasters, where he has earned numerous awards. Recently inducted into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame, Sanders is also known for his recent work as host of “Bassmaster LIVE” and “The Livewell.”

Helen Sevier — Sevier devoted three decades of service to the fishing industry, first as executive vice president and, from 1986-2001, CEO of B.A.S.S., Inc. Under her leadership, B.A.S.S. grew to 600,000 members worldwide and conducted the world’s most prestigious fishing tournament circuit. She worked tirelessly to promote sport fishing and conservation, creating the Bassmaster Casting Kids program, which has introduced millions of youngsters to fishing, in 1991. Sevier helped found the American Sportfishing Association and served on numerous industry boards and councils. Among her awards: the William E. Ricker Resources Conservation Award by the American Fisheries Society (1987), the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Conservation Service Award (1997), and the Norville Prosser Lifetime Achievement Award from the ASA (2002). She was inducted into the National Freshwater Hall of Fame in 2004.

Gary Klein – He has been involved in the bass fishing industry at the highest levels for almost 40 years. During that time, Klein has fished in more than 400 Bassmaster tournaments, helped create the Major League Fishing television show, won two B.A.S.S Angler of the Year awards, made 30 Classic appearances and recorded eight victories in B.A.S.S. tournaments alone. Klein has won the U.S. Open and a gold medal in the ESPN Great Outdoor Games. He has known no other job except as a professional bass angler. While the idea of young anglers leaving college and becoming a full-time professional is commonplace today, Klein was the first to make professional angling his first career when he started fishing at the age of 19. After four decades of competition, he is considered one of the top anglers in the world.

Kevin VanDam – VanDam is one of the most recognized names in bass fishing as the all-time money winner with B.A.S.S. (more than $6 million). His initials are the most-feared in bass fishing as KVD has won four of the 27 Bassmaster Classics in which he’s competed, has a record 25 B.A.S.S. wins and has seven Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles. He was the first-ever winner of ESPN’s “Outdoorsman of the Year” ESPY trophy. During only four years with the FLW Tour, he finished in the top 10 nearly 30 percent of the time, pocketed more than $370,000 in winnings and appeared in four Forrest Wood Cups. In addition to his fishing accomplishments, VanDam is a philanthropist through his KVD Foundation as well as contributions in the KVD Charity Classics with the Detroit Lions, Michigan hospitals, March of Dimes and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

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