Jerry McKinnis Elected to Professional Bass Fishing Hall Of Fame

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Jan. 30, 2003 - In May, Jerry McKinnis, host of "The Fishing Hole" and co-host of "The CITGO Bassmasters" will be one of the five members of the 2003 induction class into the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.

"Obviously, other people recognizing the work that we have done inspires us to work harder," said McKinnis who is quick to share credit for his success with members of his production team. "We have brought some creativity and a risk-taking attitude to the sport. I believe that the sport needs more of that as it continues to grow."

In addition to McKinnis, former tournament great and lure designer Tom Mann will be inducted as will 1974 Bassmasters Classic champion Tommy Martin, two-time Classic champion Hank Parker and 1972 Classic champion Don Butler.

Perhaps the greatest contribution McKinnis has made to bass fishing was convincing ESPN of the need to televise bass tournaments.

"Jerry was instrumental in helping us realize the popularity of bass fishing and how big it could become," said Gary Morgenstern, Executive Director of programming for ESPN Outdoors. "Jerry has truly been a friend of ESPN, he has been active in helping us develop many components of what is now ESPN Outdoors and the Great Outdoor Games."

"This is a tremendous honor for Jerry," said long-time pro Jimmy Houston, who hosts "Jimmy Houston Outdoors" on ESPN and was a 2002 inductee. "This is a tribute to what he has done over many years. Jerry was one of the pioneers in televising fishing and he has taught many people how to fish in a down to earth style."

"The Fishing Hole", which has been on ESPN since 1980, is the second longest running program on the network behind SportsCenter. These days McKinnis also serves as co-host of "The CITGO Bassmasters" television program which chronicles the CITGO Bassmaster Tour.  As a pro angler, McKinnis did compete in six BASS events between 1969 and 1974.

"I fished a few of the early events," recollected McKinnis. "I stopped fishing in them at the time when I realized my television show could become something and I followed that direction. Looking back it probably worked out for the best."

In the 40 years since he began his TV career, McKinnis quips that he has never had another job offer.

The work McKinnis has done with "The CITGO Bassmasters" has also not gone unnoticed.

"Jerry does a great job on the weekly show," added Dean Kessel, vice president and general manager of BASS. "Everyone at BASS is extremely happy for Jerry and congratulates him on this great accomplishment."

The induction ceremonies for the Professional Bass fishing Hall of Fame will take place in Hot Springs, Ark. on May 2.