Original Caption: SPEED RACER: Gary Klein, a professional bass fisherman, runs his bass boat through the race course during the Bass Quest tournament on Rend Lake in Whittington, Ill., in 1999. The World Championship Fishing circuit, sanctioned by the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, now blends old-fashioned fishing with a bass-boat obstacle course where competitors sometimes reach 70 mph. March 16, 2000 Record Searchlight (Redding, CA), Photo credit: Associated Press

About two months ago, we had a very short piece on the fishing-racing circuit BASS started that lasted far shorter than the controversy it stirred up at the time. In this follow-up piece, I found a much better historical photo, this time of Gary Klein racing through the course, along with a more detailed article that appeared in the Record Searchlight (California) back in March of 2000.

Here are a few quotes in that piece, entitled “The need for speed,” from some of the big players at the time.

Ray Scott: “What’s it got to do with fishing? You can’t get a bait under the water at 6,000 rpm. Power is not my argument; I don’t like the abuse of it. I don’t have a quarrel with boat racing. What I have a quarrel with is mixing the two. It’s a bad message to be sending for young people.”

Helen Sevier on Scott’s motivations: “Why would anyone involved in the fishing industry try seek to destroy something that will be so beneficial to the industry and its millions of participants?”

Harold Sharp: “I think you’re going to cause some of these anglers to push their boats beyond what they can control, just to try to win. It’s a very dangerous thing.”

Alabama Lt. Governor Steve Wisdom: “shocked and surprised that there are fishing competitions that mix fishing and boat racing.” He expressed concern “that the glamorization of high-speed bass boat driving on television could cause amateur boaters all over the country too mimic this behavior.”

Skeet Reese: who was thrown from his seat during a run and had the kill switch shut down his motor; “I think it’s awesome. I support it. I think this is the best marketing tool we’ve had to bring people into fishing. Is somebody blowing this out of proportion? Absolutely. Are we creating havoc on the waterways? No.” On the danger level of the event, Reese said, “On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d consider it about a 2. I think overall the chances of something really detrimental happening are pretty slim.”