Original Caption: Paul Elias brought the first B.A.S.S. Masters title back to the Magnolia State when he won in 1982 in Montgomery. Clarion-Ledger, July 1983. Staff photo by Chris Todd

In today’s Throwback Thursday historical photo, a great shot of then Classic champ, Paul Elias.  He was part of a local feature on professional anglers from Mississippi titled “Mississippi and B.A.S.S. go way back,” written by Will Sullivan, Outdoor Writer for the Clarion-Ledger in July 1983.

Some of the many facts and figures given in the piece included:

Five Mississippians participated in the first ever B.A.S.S. fishing tournament in 1967; Les Johnson, Don Norton, Bill Montgomery, Bob Ponds, and Howard Wamble.  Of those early beginnings, Johnson stated, “It all came about when Ray Scott called Don Norton and asked him if he and a few of his friends would like to come to Beaver Dam, Ark., for a bass fishing tournament.

“Don called the four of us to a meeting in the garage at his home in Clinton where we discussed it.  We liked the idea of the tournament and of the formation of B.A.S.S., so we went to the tournament.”

Bob Ponds also fished in the first Classic held in 1971.  Bob is the father of former MLFLW and Elite Series angler Pete Ponds.

Johnson was the first president of the Federation in Mississippi.

It was also Barnett (Ross Barnett Res.) that Elias, who had to drive to Jackson all the way from Laurel while still in high school, began to fish the large impoundments of the type that many of the tournaments are held on.

After 1974, no Mississippian fished the Classic until 1979 when Elias, then living in Kentucky, finished 15th.

Elias was the first angler from Mississippi to win a Classic, though others had previously qualified.

The Bass Research Foundation, founded in 1971, was headquartered in Starkville (MS).