The National Professional Anglers Association awarded top honors to several members of the professional angling community at its 2020 conference in January. Among them was a special category reserved for visionaries who have shaped the sportfishing industry’s past, present, and future. This year’s honoree is an exceptional leader in the outdoors and conservation, as well as a household name and pillar of the angling world.
Johnny Morris, who brought the crowd of several hundred angling professionals to its feet, spoke at the 2020 conference of his start in fishing and business. Morris is the founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops. An avid angler, he spent five years on the professional bass fishing tournament circuit, qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic each year.
He got his start in 1972 by selling fishing tackle out of the back of his father’s stores in Springfield, and since then earned a reputation as one of the most influential retailers of the last 50 years. Today he is known as a retail and travel destination pioneer.