In keeping with its mission of celebrating the sport of bass fishing, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Board of Directors will be honoring Jim McLaughlin from Seely’s Bay, Ontario with its special ‘Meritorious Service Award’ during its upcoming sponsor/donor reception at the Bassmaster Classic in Knoxville.
Established in 2018, the Hall’s Meritorious Service Award gives proper and well-deserved recognition to an individual or organization for their significant contributions within specific areas to bass fishing.
McLaughlin, known throughout the Canadian bass fishing scene as ‘Big Jim’, was once one of the most feared and successful competitive anglers in Canada, as well as its first Pro Bass Classic winner and the first two-time Pro Bass Classic winner. He continues to be a headline presenter at major fishing expos in Ottawa and Toronto, along with handling emcee duties at various bass fishing tournaments throughout Ontario.
In addition to his angling skills, McLaughlin has always had a knack for introducing youngsters to fishing and helping their parents understand the sport and how to make it a family activity. Over the past 25 years, he’s given many kids their first taste of fishing by hosting the Jackpot Casting Pond at the annual Ottawa Boat and Outdoor Show. Over his career, he’s been a driving force behind growing tournament bass fishing in Canada and has inspired many to establish careers in the sport as both professional anglers and in other areas within the industry.
“While Big Jim’s incredible tournament accomplishments are what most bass anglers in Canada would point out, it’s his relentless and tireless work promoting bass fishing that really overshadows all his tournament success,” said noted bass fishing TV celebrity Dave Mercer. “There’s a Greek proverb that says, ‘a society grows great when men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in’ and Big Jim is doing that by physically introducing more anglers to fishing at tournaments, outdoor expos, kid’s events, or often a random lake side meeting, than any other Canadian.”
McLaughlin joins the late Ronnie Everett and Jim Hooven as well as the Western Bass Club as recipients of the Hall’s Meritorious Service Award. Everett started the Mr. Bass of Arkansas tournament trail that served as a breeding ground for many pro bass anglers from the state. Hooven led the Lakeland (Fla.) Bassmaster club for 25 consecutive years and watched as several members went on to successful careers as pro anglers. The Seattle-based Western Bass Club, started in 1938, is considered the oldest bass club still in existence.
“On behalf of the BFHOF Board, we can’t thank Big Jim enough for what he has done for bass fishing and the tournament scene throughout Ontario over the years,” said Board president John Mazurkiewicz. “It’s a pleasure recognizing him for what he does to celebrate, promote and preserve the sport of bass fishing.”
Many BFHOF inductees, the Hall’s Board, leaders from the bass fishing industry, pro anglers and special invited guests will be in attendance at the annual HOF reception at the Bassmaster Classic where McLaughlin will officially be honored with his BFHOF Meritorious Service Award.