- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Some weeks ago, we quoted BassFan.com, a Web site tailored especially for fishermen, concerning an apparently serious disagreement between the 600,000-member Bass Anglers Sportsman Society and its new owners, the ESPN cable TV network. The tiff was about a financial settlement a final payment, so to speak, for the huge fishing "club" that includes a television program and several popular publications. According to sources familiar with the disagreement, a gigantic group hug apparently has taken place, and all is OK in the bass fishing world.
During an arbitration hearing in Atlanta, ESPN and BASS agreed to settle the question of just how many dues-paying members there are.
Our friend Jay Kumar of BassFan.com, said, "Neither party will reveal any details."
Added George McNeilly, communications director for ESPN Outdoors and BASS: "The matter between the two parties was resolved." None of the former owners including former BASS boss Helen Sevier and former financial chief Karl Dabbs would comment.
Kumar said two sources familiar with the proceedings claim that the former BASS owners received $4million out of a possible $5million in a settlement that was agreed to the day the arbitration began. The sources also alleged that another $5million is being held in escrow pending the outcome of a long-standing class action suit brought by two BASS members in 1992. If that suit is settled or is decided for less than $5million, the former owners will get the remaining portion. But if it is settled for $5million or more, the former owners will pay the first $5million and ESPN's insurance company the rest.
(In April 2001, when ESPN purchased BASS, it was reported that the television network bought an insurance policy to cover the potential liability associated with the lawsuit.)
The lawsuit appears to be a no-brainer, yet it has been a stumbling block for BASS for 10 years. It simply questions whether the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society is a kind of group in which the dues-paying members own the company. Actually, the founder of BASS, Ray Scott, has made it plain from Day 1 that BASS was in business to make money and that it was entirely owned by Scott, and later a small group of former loyal employees.
No one has ever even suggested that BASS is the property of its many members. In fact, back in the 1970s when Scott ran the organization with a firm hand, he used to say with a laugh, "This organization is not a democratic outfit. No, it's run by a benevolent dictator me and I'm here to make a dollar whenever possible."
That should be the end of the story, and the suit ought to be dismissed immediately. It has no merit.
This world champ won't go away Rick Clunn, who now is in his 50s and has won an unprecedented four bass fishing world championships, known as BASS Masters Classics, had all but been written off as a serious contender in any pro fishing contest because he failed to even qualify for this year's Classic. He must be laughing now. After three days of tough competition on the huge Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas last weekend, the legendary angler won the Texas Bassmaster Central Open and received a $50,000 check for the winning total: 43 pounds, 6 ounces of bass.
The Ava, Mo., pro who used to live in Montgomery, Texas, said, "It's good to come home to Rayburn, which is where I started fishing tournaments. Rayburn is one of my favorite lakes and despite winning tournaments around the nation, I had never won here before. This is really satisfying." It was Clunn's 14th tour victory, not counting his Classic wins.
San Diego pro Clayton Meyer's 42 pounds, 15 ounces was good for second place, and the contest's early leader, Slade Dearman, of Onalaska, Texas, finished third with 42 pounds, 11 ounces.
Clunn relied on a Deep Baby N crankbait and a Stanley spinnerbait to catch his bass. He fished primarily in a creek along the Buck Bay area and in some locations just outside the creek, which is where he caught his biggest bass the first two days. He explained that the muddy water and the bait fish were keys to his success.
"The baitfish seemed to move deeper each day, which made the fishing tougher. The bait fish control the bass," said Clunn.
Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected].

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