Bill Dance signs up for the 1967 Beaver Lake All-American. The Memphis Press Scimitar Tuesday May 2, 1967.

As I was perusing the newspaper archives this weekend I came across an image that stuck out like a sore thumb.  I knew the faces by heart but man did they look young.  I read the caption and yes, I was right, it was Ray Scott and Bill Dance.  Today in Scott Snags Dance, we’ll look at an image and an article printed in The Memphis Press Scimitar Tuesday, May 2, 1967.

The significance of this article and image is it was done a month before the first Ray Scott event on Beaver Lake in June 1967.  The image, both men smiling wide, supposedly has Bill Dance signing up for the event at that moment.  In fact, the caption says Dance was the first from Memphis to sign up.

It’s hard to say if this was staged or not.  I do know Scott chased down Dance to sign up, but I was always under the impression it was Clyde Harbin that was the first angler from Memphis to sign.

So, what do I mean Scott chased down Dance?  Well, I have heard the story from both men and their stories match.  As Scott was driving around the Arkansas/Tennessee area looking for anglers, he spent a lot of time at the marinas, where the dock owners would know who the local sticks were.  As he went from marina to marina he kept hearing the same name over and over.  That name was Billy Dance.

Scott finally got Dance’s contact info and sent him an invitation to the All-American.  Dance received it but didn’t respond.  Scott then planned a fishing trip with Glen Andrews and Ed Howse on Pickwick.

As the trio was heading to the dock for breakfast, they ran across Bill Dance and his wife Diane fishing a point.  Andrews knew Dance so they pulled up and Ed Howse introduced Scott to Dance.  Ray asked Dance why he hadn’t signed up for the event, and Dance told him he was trying to get the time off work.

As they say, the rest is history.

The date of the All-American was set for June 6-8, 1967.  The date of this publication was almost exactly a month prior.

The interesting thing about the article is according to an interview I did with Scott back about 15 years ago, he said he didn’t have more than 60 anglers one month out.  In the article he stated, “They would have about 100 of the nation’s top bass fishermen…”  What he meant was he hoped to have 100 anglers.

Then a little farther down the column Scott says, “There’s no trouble getting entries.  They are screened and we get only the very best bass fishermen.”  Again, more wishful thinking from the consummate salesman.

Another thing that caught my eye, and it’s something that Ken Duke and I have thought over the years, is Scott didn’t only allow black bass to be weighed.  They counted white bass in the event too.  If you’ve ever tried adding up the points from this early event, it doesn’t all match up to 10 points per ounce, which was given to the bass.

Back then, especially during the World Series of Sport Fishing, anglers could weigh in black bass, white bass, pan fish, and trout.  Each had a different worth with bass always scoring the highest.  If Scott scored white bass with a value of three points per ounce, that would make up the discrepancy.  Mystery solved.

So, how old was Bill and Ray at this point in time?  Bill was 27 and Ray was 34.  No wonder they look so young.

Big Test for Fishermen by Buck P. Patton, The Memphis Press Scimitar Tuesday May 2, 1967.

Of course, after this event Ray staged another one at Lewis Smith Lake in Alabama and it drew 114 anglers.  Then in 1968, he introduced B.A.S.S. and Bassmaster Magazine and was off to the races.  Scott brought bass fishing into the professional realm and Bill Dance became the first super star of the sport and is still considered the most recognized angler ever.