Famous Arkansas Anglers
Rayo Breckenridge of Paragould won the Bassmasters Classic his first season as a professional bass fisherman. A cotton farmer who loved to fish, Breckenridge developed an outdoors television program and enjoyed teaching young people about fishing. He was inducted into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame.
Homer Circle is both a fisherman and a writer of the world's great sport fish. He began his journalistic career as the Public Relations Manager for the Daisy Air-Rifle Company, of Rogers. In 1964, Sports Afield named him Angling Editor, a position he held for more than 36 years. He also was the host of three national television shows on fishing, authored seven books and starred in more than 50 fishing films. As an angler, he has held four world records for different fish species. He is a past president of the Outdoor Writers Association of America, a former Arkansas Game and Fish Commissioner and the recipient of the Jaycee Service Award and the International Game Fish Association's fellowship award. He was inducted into the Pro Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2001.
George Cochran of Hot Springs has had a love for fishing and hunting since he was a child growing up in Arkansas. Once a railroad worker, he worked his way up from local bass tournaments to twice capture the prestigious BASS Masters Classic. He's taken over 50 different tournament titles. During his BASS tournament career, he qualified for 20 Citgo Bassmaster Classics and captured seven Bassmaster tournament titles. Cochran has taken over one million dollars from the BassMaster pay window and placed in the top 10, 56 times. He was inducted in the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2004 and is a member of the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame. Cochran is known for his ability to locate and catch bass out of extremely shallow water, year-round.
Cotton Cordell learned about fishing, guiding and lure designing in his youth when his father owned a fishing resort on Lake Catherine in Hot Springs. He formed his own lure company, Cordell Lures, where he designed baits that are still produced by the millions and are well-known names: Hot Spot, the Gay Blade; the Boy Howdy; the Red Fin and the Crazy Shad. He was elected into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 1987, into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame a few years later, and inducted in the Pro Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2002. Cordell is an Honorary Member of the National Fishing Lure Collectors Club.
Charlie Craig has contributed to Arkansas fishing by being a driving force for monies to improve and fund facilities. He led a crusade for donations to buy land, which he then donated to the Game and Fish Commission, for the Centerton fish hatchery. It was renamed the Charlie Craig Fish Hatchery in 1997 because of his efforts. He also helped garner support for the passage of the 1/8th-cent conservation sales tax. Craig was a member of the Bella Vista Fly Tyers and was inducted into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame.
Mark Davis from Mt. Ida had his first tournament win at the age of 14, and was guiding on local Arkansas lakes at 15. Davis turned pro at the age of 16. So, it's no wonder that he sits in the record books for winning "The Grand Slam," Bassmaster Classic and Angler of the Year (1995), and Angler of the Year again in 1998 and 2001. He is an Arkansas Walk of Fame inductee.
Jim Gaston has been in the forefront of Arkansas's world-acclaimed trout fishing activities more than 35 years. He is the longtime owner of Gaston's White River Resort in Lakeview and an inductee of the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame. As a lifetime member of the Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission where he plays a leading role in promoting tourism for the entire state as well as his home area.
Ricky Green has been hooked on fishing since he caught his first bass at the age of six in his hometown of Arkadelphia. He's known for his consistency and ability to catch the lunkers. He experienced his first national bass fishing competition in 1968 and began his professional, full-time career in 1974. Green holds the all-time record for the biggest bass ever caught in a BASS Classic. He has won numerous national tournaments, been featured in high-profile outdoor magazines, and made countless guest appearances on television shows. He was inducted into the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2005.
Charlie Hoover became an insurance man after graduating college and soon realized he preferred traveling in a bass boat instead. He left the Bull Shoals Insurance Agency to work for nearby Ranger Boats, which became a fixture as the boat of the Bassmasters Classic. Later he took the helm of an organization that pushed bass to tournaments into high pay outs rivaling those of professional golf and tennis. He is a 2003 inductee into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame.
Andrew Hulsey a biologist, was a key player in the development of a system of fish nursery ponds, in introducing trout into waters where cold water from dams had wiped out native fish, in introducing striped bass and in widespread stocking of channel catfish to boost angling opportunities. In the late 1960s, Hulsey was elevated to assistant director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission then became director in 1969. Hulsey served as commission director for 10 years. He is an Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame inductee.
Jerry McKinnis was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He moved to Arkansas at an early age and fell in love with fishing in North Arkansas. Although he did take home checks in two-thirds of the tournaments he competed in, he didn't make his living as a full-time tournament pro. He began his fishing and business career began as a fishing guide on the White River. Eventually, he became a developer and producer of outdoor TV programs of such shows as "The Fishin' Hole," "The Spanish Fly"; "The Guides' with Bobby and Billy Murray; "The Bass Class" with Denny Brauer; the Citgo BassMaster Tournament Trail and Rick Ruoff's "Orvis Sporting Life."
He was inducted in the Pro Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2003 and is in the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame.
Bobby Murray won the first Bassmasters Classic in 1971 on Nevada's Lake Mead, sealing his name in the records books forever. The victory propelled him into a professional fishing career and he proved he earned it when in repeated his Bassmasters Classic championship in 1978 in Mississippi. He has won more than 40 regional and national tournaments, received Master Angler status in Alaska, and landed trophy saltwater species (including a 964-pound tuna). Murray has authored fishing books and hosted television shows. He was inducted into the National Sport Fishing Hall of Fame in 1989, the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame in 1994, and the Pro Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2001.
Larry Nixon whose hometown is Bee Branch, began guiding fishermen before he
was in high school. He joined the professional bass fishermen's ranks more than 30 years ago. He's had 89 top 10 finishes with 16 wins, including Bassmasters Classic. Nixon became fishing's first million-dollar winner and was named Bass Angler of the Year in 1980 and 1982. He is a member of the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame.
Bill Norman who grew up on a farm in rural Yell County, Arkansas, founded the Arkansas lure company that bears his name. Norman Lures sponsored early professionals on the circuits, and Norman is credited with establishing the first tournament pro team. He's known for constantly seeking new and better lures and techniques. Several of today's top bass lures were created by him, including the Little N, the DD22 crankbait and the N-Ticer lipless crankbait. He will be inducted posthumously into the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2007.
Dave Whitlock is a legend in the art of fly fishing known internationally for his innovative and effective fly-tying designs, including the popular Dave's Hopper. While he and his wife Emily guided on the White River in the northern Ozarks for years, Whitlock researches, analyzes, innovates, teaches and participates in all aspects of the sport through his many talents, including painting, illustrating, writing, photography, fly tying and lecturing. His art and writing appear in publications such as Fly Fisherman Magazine, Fly Fishing and Tying Journal, Trout Magazine, In-Fisherman and Field & Stream. He's written four books: Dave Whitlock's Guide to Aquatic Trout Foods, the L.L. Bean Fly Fishing Handbook, the L.L. Bean Bass Fly Fishing Handbook and Imitating and Fishing Natural Fish Foods for Lefty's Little Library. Whitlock has received numerous awards for his fly-fishing and fly-tying contributions, including induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, the Max Ander's Wild Trout Award for his work on propagation of wild trout and the Federation of Fly Fishers' Conservation Man of the Year Award. In recognition of his innovativeness in new fly-tying patterns and his national fly-tying activities, Whitlock received the highest honor in the fly-tying world, the Buz Buzeck Flytyer's Award. He was inducted into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame in 1996. In 1997, he received the Lifetime Contribution Award from the National American Fly Tackle Trade Association.
Forrest L. Wood grew up in a small north-central Arkansas town. In the mid 60s, before professional bass fishing began, he was a fishing guide on the White River and Bull Shoals Lake. He started a small boat repair business that became one of the most well-known bass boat companies in the world - Ranger Boats. The Ranger boat business grew along side the emerging bass fishing profession. Ranger Boats has been an avid supporter and sponsor of anglers and tournament trails. Wood also competed as a professional fisherman competing on the B.A.S.S. circuit for many years. He qualified for two Bassmaster Classics and won the New York Invitation B.A.S.S. tournament in 1979. He is a member of the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame. He is also an outstanding humanitarian and philanthropist, and has donated millions of dollars to such organizations as: American Cancer Society; St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital; Epilepsy Society of America and literally hundreds of smaller, regional organizations.