BASS FOUNDER HEADING FOR IRAQ

Since the war began, BASS has received numerous letters and emails from military men serving in Iraq. Later this month, BASS founder Ray Scott pays a Thanksgiving visit to the troops.

"We're going to be going over yonder and try to entertain and make those boys smile," he said. "I'm so proud of those kids. I'm just thrilled to be going."

Through his friendship with retired Command Sgt. Maj. Rick Cayton, a Triton Boats dealer in Fort Hood, Texas, Scott arranged to visit with the troops. He will be leaving Nov. 23rd for the 10-day trip sponsored by Armed Forces Entertainment.

After brief stops in Germany and Kuwait, Scott will fly to Baghdad. From there, the Ray Scott Thanksgiving Tour will travel by Blackhawk helicopter to make two or three stops per day throughout Iraq.

"It's the most exciting thing I've ever done," said Scott, an Army veteran himself. "I feel so good. I'm at the age (71) and stage where I'd love to do something for my country, but old people don't get a chance very often - not that I consider myself old. I still think I'm about 20.

"I'm not doing this to be heroic or anything like that. I just feel that when a man has a chance to do something for his country, he needs to do it. When I get in front of those kids I'll have a ball, and they'll be smiling when we leave. That's my thrill."


It's been quite a fall for Scott, known by millions around the globe as Mr. Bass.

Last month, he was inducted into the prestigious International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame in Dania, Fla. Just two weeks ago, he returned from a trip to South Africa.

Scott went to Zimbabwe to celebrate the catch of an 18-pound, 4-ounce bass in Lake Darwinsdale in late July. Scott believes that this bass - one of the largest ever documented outside the United States - is the result of an international effort on the part of BASS to stock 2,500 Florida strain fingerlings in Zimbabwe in 1981.

"It's an incredible story," he said. "I got to meet a lot of great people, including the man who caught that big bass, and I brought him a replica of that fish made by (renowned taxidermist) Archie Phillips of Fairfield, Ala., who was a charter member of BASS.

"Plus, I signed up 250 new BASS members. We doubled out membership there."

GREATEST ANGLER DEBATE. Three-time BASS Angler of the Year Mark Davis is one of the 35 pros nominated for ESPN Outdoors' Greatest Angler Debate. Inside BASS asked him who he would vote for as the best of the best, if he had a vote.

"Of course, a debate is an opinion, and this is just my opinion," the former Classic champion said. "In my opinion, the best fisherman is a guy that is well-versed with all of his tackle and has stood the test of time. He's very versatile and can fish in clear water, muddy water, deep water or shallow water. He can fish all different kinds of lures. He has no holes anywhere in his entire fishing game. To me, that describes the best fisherman.

With that said, I've got to put Larry Nixon at the top. Yeah, you've got Rick Clunn, and a lot of guys are going to say Roland Martin, but I'll take Larry. Still, it's very, very hard to pick one guy."

DID YOU KNOW? The 2005 Classic in Pittsburgh will be the northernmost Classic since it was held in Chicago in 2000.

PRO BIRTHDAYS. North Carolina's Guy Eaker will be 64 on Nov. 23rd, while Randy Blaukat turns 43 a day later. Jim Bitter (62) and Terry Baksay (44) share Nov. 28th as their birthday.

IF I HADN'T BECOME A BASS PRO. Craig Powers, a Bassmaster Open pro from Tennessee, would be concentrating on his Domino's Pizza franchise in Rockwood if he hadn't turned bass fishing into a career.

THEY SAID IT. "Of all the places we've fished over the years, Florida has probably been the toughest for me. I've never won a tournament in Florida. The best I've ever done is fourth place in a MegaBucks on the Harris Chain. I've led two BASS events on Okeechobee, but couldn't finish them off. In one of them, by the time it was over, I barely even got a paycheck. I just seem to struggle down there." All-time BASS leading money-winner Denny Brauer is not a fan of fishing tournaments in Florida.