We have done quite a few giants articles in the last year or so and we have had a personal connection with some. In this case more so than others, when we decided to get inside the fishing industry my son asked me for a list of people to contact to jump start our endeavor. The list I came up with was a kind of wish list for the future in my mind but my son had other ideas; he got on the phone and Facebook and started to get to work on contacting those on the list. Much to my surprise Jerry McKinnis was one of the first to respond in a positive way.
Bad Poncho Outdoors was created so that my son and I could have something to do together in our spare time to keep us close after he graduated high school. My son was planning to do IT work because of his love and understanding of computers. After a few years of studies he began to realize a lot of the people he was dealing with were in it for the money and didn’t seem happy with their choice of careers. In a very short time dealing with those in the outdoor world my son thought we need to be working with these people who seemed to be happy and excited about what they do for a living. One conversation with Jerry McKinnis and my son said to me “I want to be involved in the fishing industry somehow even if we never make a dime at it”.
One week before the first Bassmaster Classic since Jerry took over B.A.S.S Jerry called us back and spent almost an hour on the phone with us. This was priceless for a young writer who had dreams of a life in the outdoor world. With him taking the time to do this for a newbie at a time in his life when he was busy with a major event only a week away shows where his heart is. I can only imagine how many others have been inspired by this great man. The sound of this iconic voice on the other end of the line is something we will always remember. You can listen in on this conversation by clicking the link provided at the bottom of the page.
Now that you know why we hail Jerry McKinnis as a giant in the industry let’s talk about why he is considered a giant to many others. We have noticed many of the giants are associated with other giants. This is definitely the case with Jerry, have you heard the story of McKinnis meeting Forest Wood? When Jerry was a young man he saved up for a guided trip in Arkansas the guide he hooked up with on that fateful day was Forest Wood. This was the beginning of a long friendship that has guided the fishing industry into a bright future that could not have been imagined at the time. Jerry moved to Arkansas a month after that to become a guide himself with help from Forest. After a few years of financial struggles they both made some changes Forest started to try to sell his unique fiberglass boats and Jerry as he puts it fell into TV.
Jerry’s accidental television stardom turned into a forty year long run that we all grew up with. Fishing on TV had never seen the likes of what he was producing. Jerry had a way of making you feel like it was you standing beside him fishing every week on the show. Jerry has always been the type to give credit where credit is due without claiming much for himself. So I am pretty sure he would want us to give proper credit to his co-stars the little dogs that many times stole the spotlight Norman and Archie. He had probably been asked about these dogs as much as his fishing. Today many if not most of the fishing shows do little to hide the fact that they are pushing a particular product. When we were watching the Fishin Hole it was about the fishing and the time with friends making lasting memories. In his time with ESPN the viewers increased from a few million to over 65 million we would like to think he had a lot to do with that.
The stories that Jerry tells are nothing short of amazing, he has stories of most of the legends of the industry. His stories include many that we know and many that we might not have heard of without him spreading the word. The way he tells a story you just can hardly wait for the next line. Do yourself a favor and look up some of his writing you won’t regret it. One of my all-time favorites is the Christmas story this is a good example of his style and the type of man he is. As enjoyable as it is to read a Jerry McKinnis story to listen to him tell one brings it to another level. His is one of those voices that can’t be mistaken for any other and when he gives you one of those dramatic pauses you know the next line will be something to remember. I look forward to every post on his blog as they are usually words to live by.
With so many accomplishments in his life it would take forever to name them all so I will highlight what seems to be one he is most proud of. In 2010 Jerry was inducted into the Arkansas sports hall of fame. Up until this time this accolade had been reserved for the traditional ball type sports, he was the first in the area of fishing. We along with many others think this was well deserved. This will surely open the door for other Arkansas fishing legends.
At a time in his life that he could have rested on what he has already accomplished he has taken on the huge task that is B.A.S.S. With one of his best friends being Forest Wood the namesake of the FLW tournament trail you might think this would create a rift between them but not when dealing with these great men. Even early on with the FLW competing directly with the ESPN Bassmasters Jerry supported his friend by fishing in his events. This has not changed now that he is part owner of B.A.S.S. Creating success without sacrificing a friendship directly competing in the same field is a sure sign of a giant man and of course we will be doing a Giants of The Industry’s article on Forest Wood sometime soon. B.A.S.S. has already made some positive changes with many more on the way. It looks like they are focusing on getting more people involved in the sport and that is a good thing for all of us.
When we started throwing names around for this Giants piece we came up with many names from the past and many from a list of the future of the industry. There were very few that crossed over in such an influential way as Jerry McKinnis for he is the past and the future of this growing sport of bass fishing. The coolest thing about this giant is this time we all get to go along for the ride as B.A.S.S. climbs to the next level bringing fisherman, media and sales with it. Jerry will probably never know how many people’s lives have been shaped in some way by his words and deeds, but in the same way his friend Forest Wood coaxed him to try he has done the same for many others. Truly a giant among giants.
If you are interested in checking out the chat we had with Jerry please visit: http://badponchooutdoors.com/?p=314.