BASS Story book

“The B.A.S.S. Story Unplugged” by Bob Cobb is 412 pages of professional fishing history. Tulsa World

The book sits in your grip like a 10-pound bass, with a quick realization on that first grab it requires a bit more finger strength than usual and a second hand that involuntarily rises to assist, but it’s a heft worthy of the 50-year history of the Bass Angler Sportsman Society and of its author.

Bob Cobb was the outdoor writer for the Tulsa Tribune in 1967 when Ray Scott breathed life into the concept that became BASS — with no small amount of help from Cobb and others in the Tulsa area.

BASS is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and the 50th Bassmaster Classic is set for Birmingham, Alabama, next March, so it’s only natural that its first apostle should come back to town bearing 412 pages of fisherman’s bible. It’s titled “The B.A.S.S. Story Unplugged.”

It’s a natural extension of Cobb’s life with BASS and long partnership with Scott. When other outdoors writers — back then the heartbeat of the outdoor industry — were unmoved by the idea of bass tournaments, Cobb charged ahead with Scott. He packed up his young family in 1968 and left Tulsa to help build BASS from its first sketchy alleyway office as editor of Bassmaster Magazine.

Cobb said he simply believed in Scott and his vision. They are like brothers, he said.

“Ray is a great salesman, a Billy Graham and a few other things rolled into one,” he said. “He believed in what he was doing.”

What they built changed fishing, conservation and the ways people pursue fish — all kinds of fish — in ways impossible to fully measure.

The pages of “The B.A.S.S. Story Unplugged” poured naturally from the storyteller.

“I lost my wife three years ago, and I moved in with my daughter in Atlanta, and I just sat down one day with a notebook and I took a pen and started writing and I didn’t quit, obviously,” he said. “Four hundred and twelve pages,” he said with a chuckle.

We sat down for a quick three-hour lunch at The Brook on Peoria Avenue on Tuesday and shared a story or two. This meeting of dinosaurs was long overdue, and trust me, I knew what he was saying when he bemoaned his shortcomings as the messenger of a good thing.

“There’s so much I left on the table. I kick myself for not making a daily diary,” he said. “There’s so much more to BASS than fishing, as you know.”

My shortcoming is more literal. I’m already at the word-limit to allow this item to fit in this Sunday’s newspaper.

In brief, this is a book of fishing history, personalities and rich storytelling. It is indeed a bible of sorts, and every follower should have one of those. If you find reading print products a chore, just the selection of historic photos front to back makes it a page-turner. And don’t miss the story about the rogue hippo: “Two Minutes of Terror,” pages 257-260.

Cobb said the book could work as a door stop or a boat anchor, but I disagree. You’d get distracted too often and have to pick it up, and then where would that leave you with folks trying to get in and out the door or on and off the boat ramp?

It’s best to find this one on Amazon and have it delivered to your coffee table, then rent a trailer in March, haul it to the Bassmaster Classic at Birmingham and fill the empty pages at the back with autographs and notes of your own.

Kelly Bostian


Twitter: @KellyBostian