New Members In The Bass Fishing Hall Of Fame - The Fisherman

New Members In The Bass Fishing Hall Of Fame

The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame will enshrine five new members in 2024, all of whom can be called pioneers in their own unique way. The quintet of Fred Arbogast, Mike McKinnis, Skeet Reese, Alfred Williams and Mark Zona were selected in balloting conducted by the Hall of Fame’s 30-member Selection Panel and living Hall of Fame inductees. The new additions will bring the total number of Hall of Fame inductees to 100.

The new class was chosen from a 12-man ballot that included a mix of dynamic personalities, on-the-water competitors, off-the-water innovators, and trailblazers. Seventy-seven ballots were circulated to those with voting privileges and 59 were returned, the most since the Hall of Fame began allowing living members of the Hall of Fame to vote in 2022.

The Class of 2024 will be honored later this year during Celebrate Bass Fishing Week, which will be highlighted by the induction banquet on September 26 at Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri.

“Since the opening of the Hall of Fame’s permanent home at Wonders of Wildlife in 2017, the Hall’s board of directors has worked diligently on both establishing a stringent process for selecting those that should be considered for induction, along with making the process as transparent as possible,” said Hall of Fame Board president John Mazurkiewicz. “Through the efforts of our nominations committee chair Neil Paul and the board members who serve on it, their work on the ballot and the involvement from our selection panel and past HOF inductees by voting worked out beyond our expectations. While the board holds the final decision on how many we induct each year, the final voting process this year was loud and clear that these five men deserved the honor.”

Arbogast, a native of Akron, Ohio, received the most first-place votes (20) of any of the 12 candidates on the ballot. He invented iconic lures such as the Jitterbug and Hula Popper, the latter of which was among the first baits to be adorned with a skirt made of rubber, a nod to his background working at Goodyear and B.F. Goodrich. Arbogast passed away at the age of 53 in 1947, but his ideas and creations still live on in tackle boxes today.

McKinnis, 60, currently the vice president of media content for JM Associates, will join his late father, Jerry, in the Hall of Fame to form the first father-son duo to be inducted. Over his career, the Little Rock, Arkansas, native has been instrumental in producing a variety of outdoor television programming, including helping to deliver the first live Internet streaming broadcast of a tournament at the 2015 Bassmaster Classic, a breakthrough that has become the norm for major tournament trails and which has carried over to network television.

The 54-year-old Reese, who hails from Auburn, California, is still an active competitor on Major League Fishing’s Bass Pro Tour, but he made his name on lakes out west before rocketing to stardom on the Bassmaster tournament circuits during the 2000s and 2010s. The California native’s career tournament earnings exceed $4 million, and he remains the only western-based angler to win the Bassmaster Classic (2009).

Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Williams rose above the racial barriers that existed across the South to blaze a trail and serve as an inspiration for other African American anglers. Upon his return from a tour in the Vietnam War, he was often the only African American angler in local tournaments. He soon developed a knack for winning those events and after winning a qualifying tournament on his home waters of Ross Barnett Reservoir in 1983, Williams, who is now 76, became the first African American angler to compete in the Bassmaster Classic, finishing 10th at the Ohio River.

Zona, 51, makes his home in Michigan and has been one of the leading voices and personalities in bass fishing since the early 2000s, either in his role as analyst for Bassmaster tournaments or as host of the popular “Zona’s Awesome Fishing Show.” Known for his spontaneity and high-energy manner, Zona will join longtime broadcast partner Tommy Sanders (2018) in the Hall.