Forrest Wood tribute, Lipless cranks on bottom in cold water

Today’s BassBlaster is my small gesture to Forrest Wood, a man who deserves way more than small gestures and whose life can’t fit in any small space like this.

Quick story: Told my family about him passing and a little about what an amazing man he was. My 16-yr-old daughter said, “Are you okay?” All of a sudden I teared up. Wonder what my face looked like when I was telling them for her to ask me that.

Anyhow — Jerry McKinnis, Irwin Jacobs and now Forrest Wood. Feel like the wind’s knocked outta bassin’ a little. I know everyone has their time but dang this is rough. This pic was just taken in June of last year:

The AR bass fishing community — one of the pillars our sport sits on — has been hit hard the last few months. Bless you folks.

We still have some lions of bass fishing left, but very few of them can measure up to these men — especially, in my opinion, Forrest. So here’s a little about him, from me.

First a little credit: Bunch of pics in this BB are taken from Keith Daffron’s way-cool picture book “The Building of a Legacy,” which I highly recommend if you’re a fan of Ranger Boats, Forrest or bass fishing history. Keith is Forrest’s oldest grandson and now runs Vexus Boats.

>> If you’re getting the BassBlaster for the first time it’s cuz a bud signed you up!

Today’s Top 5

Forrest Wood was America.

That sound corny? It’s not. I’m talkin’ as the child of two immigrants — they didn’t have a clue about bass fishing, let alone why I’d “chuck” a fancy college degree to take a risk on the bassin’ world. Well, wish they’d met Forrest Wood. Because if they did, then they’d understand a whole bunch of the why.

For what it’s worth, here’s my impression of Forrest — from up close and personal, and also other stuff:Solid and unchanging — He was himself and he was a solid person, meaning someone you could count on. He didn’t change to “fit the times” or whatever. There’s great peace for everyone when someone is like that.

Worked hard and inspired — Forrest, Ranger Boats, his family, Vexus Boats and I’m sure whatever else Forrest had a hand in had/has a huge Wood work ethic that inspired people to work hard. They were INSPIRED — they weren’t guilted into it or whatever. Folks WANTED to work hard for Forrest. That’s unusual and great.

High bar and customer service — I never worked with or for Forrest, but I assume from knowing folks who did and seeing what they produced that he insisted on a high bar…meaning high quality. I love that. I mean, why do it any other way? Same for customer service: You could find none better than Ranger. Period.

Loved every minute — The only times I saw Forrest not smiling were when he was listening, maybe giving instructions to someone, or thinking of a good/funny line to throw at you. To me seemed like he had JOY, which is different than happiness. Joy is internal and flows out, happiness is a fickle state of being. How I see it anyhow.

Humble and did not have to be the center of attention — Forrest commanded attention because of who he was (pioneer and legend), how he was (calm and intentional) and how tall he was. But he never NEEDED to be the center of attention. He was humble and gracious.

He and Nina supported folks — I bet no one knows how many people Forrest and Nina encouraged and “saved” in the bassin’ biz, and I bet outside of it. They encouraged people, they financed people, and no doubt they’ve done other things for people. I’m sure the number is in the thousands. That’s amazing.

He loved bassin’ — He loved it. He loved the people in it. He loved us all. And I’m pretty sure he was grateful for it all too.

To me those are qualities of an ultra-solid American man. Solidly 100% American. That’s how I see it anyhow. How great would it be to be remembered for even half that list!

I didn’t know Forrest well, but here’s one quick personal story from way back:

I started in the bassin’ biz in the early ’90s. I was a real enthusiastic long-haired Yankee (had a ponytail, it was pretty long!), showed up at my first Classic working for B.A.S.S. media. I was like, Wow here’s all the people I’ve admired, in person!

Since that was before the internet and cell phones, I only “knew” ’em from Bassmaster Mag and TV. They had no idea who I was or what I looked like — with no ‘gram, how could they! Anyhow, I was for sure the only dude at the entire Classic with long hair. Didn’t bother me at all, just making a point…

…which is: It didn’t bother Forrest one bit either. When I met him, he was super gracious, understood who I was (a new B.A.S.S. writer), actually welcomed me to bassin’ (pretty sure it was, “We’re glad to have you”) and remembered me the next time I saw him, which was probably the next Classic.

Don’t know if you can feel what I was feeling there, but man — it blew me away. Forrest Wood! And he was the same every time I saw him: welcoming, remembered who I was, gracious and intentional.

Gotta shout out being intentional: It’s one of the best qualities a person can have. When you talked to Forrest, he looked you dead in the eyes and never got distracted.

Forrest was a great man. As a so-so man myself, and a bass-head, I miss him already. But lucky for us we can still see him in what he left us, including the folks in his family and in a bunch of stuff in bassin’, like boats.

Thank you Forrest. Thanks a ton. Love from one bass-head.

Forrest Wood was bass fishing.

Just gonna list SOME of it:

Ranger Boats and Flippin, AR — You can’t throw a catfish in Flippin without it landing near someone who knows the Woods, is related to the Woods, benefited from the Woods or knows how to do something related to building a bass boat. That’s beautiful man, wow.

B.A.S.S., Ray Scott, Helen Sevier — Forrest supported their eras of B.A.S.S. and vice versa. Believe Ranger sponsored B.A.S.S. from 1972 to 2000. Ray said:

> “…Forrest worked tirelessly not only to improve his own products, but support our exploding industry in every way he could, including boating safety issues and conservation.”

FLW (which originally stood for Forrest L Wood), Irwin Jacobs — Irwin recognized that Forrest symbolized bass fishing. Yes Irwin wanted to sell boats. So did Ranger! But the point is that Irwin saw Forrest for who he was: a legend.

Vexus Boats — Run by Forrest’s family. Family that’s related by blood but not only blood cuz that Flippin bass boat industry is one big family.

Pros — He and Nina supported too many to name, but here’s a couple famous dudes who are still at it:

(I think that’s ^ Tommy Biffle?)

Suppliers — Even though I don’t know for sure, I’m sure anyway that Forrest, Nina and Ranger “made” some suppliers/vendors…meaning their biz created other businesses and employment for folks. To me, that’s the ultimate in business: making lives and families possible for people.

Oh yeah:

Forrest won the 1979 B.A.S.S. New York Invitational on the St. Lawrence River with 47-03 (3 days) — Hank Parker says it “was the first time anyone ever won a B.A.S.S. event with nothing but smallmouth bass.” Forrest also qualified for the ’72 and ’79 Bassmaster Classics where he finished 24th and 9th respectively.

Check Hank talkin’ the ’79 Classic, which he won:

> …during practice for the Bassmaster Classic on Lake Texoma, I ran into Forrest in the Big Mineral Creek area of that fishery. He found the area before I did and had every right to be there and fish there once competition began, but he left it to me. I went on to win that Classic, and it jump-started my career.

Wow man, just wow.

Forrest fished 101 B.A.S.S. tourneys (the last in ’92) and had 28 top 10 finishes…but only finished in the money 26 times?? Anyhow, he could fish! Before building boats he was a fishing guide….

Here’s Ray, Hank and Forrest, from

For more Forrest bassin’ info, read these posts about Forrest’s life — by Colin Moore at FLW and Craig Lamb at B.A.S.S. They’re the best ones I’ve seen.

Forrest Wood was family.

If you think it’s easy to have a family biz or have folks who work for you think they’re part of one big family, think again. It’s rare. It happens because of who’s at the top and what the work environment is — meaning how the folks who work there are thought of and treated. So here’s a little family:

Ranger Boats family — should be about 100 pics but….

Then Vexus Boats:

Forrest was also community — here’s just one example in Flippin:

Dang I know I’m not doing this justice but you know what I’m sayin’….

Forrest Wood built a bass boat.

He was a fishing guide who built boats because he knew he could do it better, saw the need for a bass-specific boat, and probably wanted some stuff on his boat that wasn’t available on other ones. That’s how it all started.

Here’s the first Ranger Boat, 1968 — Forrest in the bow:

Believe this is the first Ranger bass boat, also a ’68:

Ever since then, bass fishing has been on the map. That was ’68 — check these dates:

> 1967: B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott held his first tournament, named the All-American.

> 1968: B.A.S.S.’s first newsletter was sent out, which would eventually become Bassmaster Magazine.

So…Forrest built a bass boat, and from that he created a company, helped create a national and international sport/pastime, supported many folks and helped many of their dreams come true, created jobs and careers which led to families and their dreams and careers, supported his community, and did who knows how many other positive things for folks everywhere.

Pretty darn stout.

Few more Forrest tidbits.

1. The service is tomorrow.

> Funeral Services for Forrest L. Wood will be at Flippin First Baptist Church at noon on Wed, Jan 29. Due to the expected turnout, additional parking will be at Hickey Park (123 Hickey Park Place) and Vexus Boats (727 W. Industrial Park Road). Shuttles will be provided before and after the service.

> Following the funeral, the family will receive ALL friends in the Fellowship Hall at the church. A reception and appetizers in the Family Life Center will take place in conjunction with the visitation. A graveside burial will be private.

> For those that knew Forrest, then you will also know that jeans and boots will do just fine.

> Memorial Contributions can be made to the Flippin Cemetery by mailing to Flippin Cemetery Fund, PO Box 211, Flippin, AR 72634. Services provided by Roller-Burns Funeral Home.

2. Former AR Gov Mike Huckaby tweeted this:
> “As a young entrepreneur, Forrest Wood didn’t just perfect the modern bass boat. He created an international community for outdoor enthusiasts who share a common passion. And as a result, AR has become the epicenter of the sport and the envy of fishermen and women from around the world. He was ambitious and determine, and AR is a better place because he fully invested his time and his talents right here.”
100% right.

Jerry McKinnis told this story almost 10 years ago on — here’s a piece of it:

> …the first dozen or so [Ranger bass] boats that were built in the back of a gas station in Flippin. Forrest and I took some of those first boats around the country to show at gatherings. Just think about this — we were hauling a boat behind our vehicle that no fisherman had ever seen before! We were told by boat dealers that it would never sell.

> Fortunately, they were telling that to 2 of the most bullheaded guys around. I finally took off for Little Rock and ran right smack dab into the TV business. Forrest kept working with fiberglass and ran smack dab into the Ranger Boat business.

How they met:

> …living in MO, I had saved up $20 and made arrangements for a float trip down the White River to trout-fish. I showed up at a river dock just below Bull Shoals Dam and walked down the ramp and into possibly the most important moment of my life.

> You see, there was this tall skinny guy waiting at the end of that ramp that asked if I was Jerry. When I answered yes, he said, “Well, good. I’ll be your guide today. My name is Forrest Wood.”

> I’ll always wonder what my life would have been like if he had been Bob Fergerson — Joe Whitehall, or whatever. But it was Forrest Wood.

Too cool.

What became Bull Shoals (from here):

> …the Bull Shoals-White River State Park…the Forrest and Nina Wood White River State Park access, where 3 generations of Nina Wood’s ancestors had a family homestead and farmland before construction of the dam and creation of the Bull Shoals Lake. It’s interesting that the loss of family property yielded the opportunity for large-scale recreational and sport fishing on Bull Shoals Lake that helped the Woods’ bass boat business take off.

6. Watch some Forrest.

Forrest and Jerry fishing for salmon and trout in Canada, on The Fishin’ Hole. These guys fished for a whole lotta trout on the White River too:

Fishing the White River with Orlando Wilson — remember that show? Forrest is totally chill guiding that river boat with a paddle:

Fishing with Jimmy Houston. Forrest knew how to hold a fish for pics!

Forrest and Nina in the vid of Jerry Hopper’s country tune about working at Ranger back in the day:


1. Luke Clausen gets Seaguar line and Jackall hard baits.

Already been said here in the BB that MotorGuide is a new one for him too….

2. Chris/Trait Zaldain and Caleb Sumrall get Carhartt.

The Zaldains apparently are real disappointed Carhartt didn’t pick up their dog Nebo so they’re shopping him around…. Okay not really.

Meanwhile Caleb is reppin’ the brand at BBQs (check the next item).

3. Elitist Caleb Sumrall has a fundraiser every year.

This is great:

> To give him a boost…dozens of Teche Area [LA] residents, mostly outdoorsmen…converged on Phil Haney’s residence Thurs in rural Iberia Parish for what has become an annual fundraising supper for Sumrall.

> Men from all walks of life were on hand to eat sausage links…and to eat the sumptuous shrimp stew….

If you get it out there that cooked meat and stuff is available, outdoorsmen will for sure sniff it out…just another talent we have. Caleb’s like:

lol more like good peeps!

4. John Cox got SIMMS.

Good pickup for ’em. Will have deets on John’s win at the Rayburn FLW on Thurs.

5. BPTer Keith Poche is running tin to fish shallower.

And to be a stunt driver:

> This boat is so narrow and it floats so shallow that I can get places where other boats can’t really get to. I can squeeze into tight spots, jump logs, jump beaver dams and all sorts of stuff like that. That’s important to me because it means I can go fish things that I like to fish.

Don’t have a pic of Keith driving his boat but here’s him driving his car:

6. Larry Nixon wants to be back fishing FLW in April.

Recovering from shoulder surgery.

7. AL: Rat-L-Trap derby on Gville Feb 9.

Only Bill Lewis baits allowed.

8. NY: Oneida’s Cleveland dock getting $1 mil reno.

Starting this winter…somehow….

9. MN: Largies might be hurt by lots of snow?

> …heavy snow blocks sunlight. As a result, aquatic plants die and decompose. “During decomposition, bacteria use up oxygen.”

[At — can’t link it, sorry.]

10. Rapala sponsoring college bass-heads again.

Association of Collegiate Anglers and Bass Pro Shops Collegiate Bass Fishing Series.

11. Bethel U team wins again.

This time on Toledo Bend. They don’t win all the time but often enough that the NCAA is launching an investigation allegedly involving PEDs, payments from Nike, and whether team members have received any free baits, boats or housing from wealthy alums, or free lessons from Mark Menendez. Fish Fishburne has been mentioned as a person of interest….


12. Nominate 2020 Bassmaster HS All-Americans.


13. Sea Foam products are now on Tackle Warehouse!

Good prices too. Maybe chuck a can into your bait order? Simple to use (pour it in) but if you have questions check Sea Foam’s YouTube channel.

14. KY biologist discovered a new species of crawfeesh.

Guess what color it is:

They’re looking for a name for it. I’m thinking either “chunk” or “ultra vibe”?? [cryin’ laughin’ emoji]

15. WV: Dude caught a 59-lb grass carp — on a swimbait.

He was fishing for pike:

On right now…

Note: The TackleWarehouse links in this email are affiliate links, meaning if you go through them to make a purchase I might earn a commission…at no cost to you. Click here if you want to learn a little more about links in the BB.

Tip of the Day

Jared Lintner deadsticks lipless cranks in cold water.

For real. I called him and was like, “Dude is this right?” And he’s all, “Come on out here and I’ll show you.” I said, “You mean Cali?” And he said, “No, my house.” Didn’t know what he meant, so…was wonderin’ if Jared was lookin’ fer the rest of his marbles at the time (hahaha Jared!). Either way here we go:

> “Everybody thinks a lipless crankbait is a spring deal. They don’t realize it can also be really effective in cold water. I’ve caught them on a Jackall TN70 in water temperatures down into the mid-40s.

> “In the winter, I fish a ‘Trap like a jig. I cast it out, let it fall to the bottom, and then I’ll experiment with different retrieves.” …will sometimes use a slow, steady pull to lift the bait, then let it flutter back down.

> …he’ll even deadstick the bait, just letting it lay motionless on the lake floor. “A lot of times they’ll eat it right off the bottom. I guess they think it’s a baitfish that’s just died.

> “When the water is cold, I don’t want a bait that’s loud. I want something a little more subtle.” …will even go so far as drilling a hole in the bait and adding water which changes the sound and lessens the volume.

> “Generally speaking, especially in the winter, I’ll start with a 5/8-oz, a 1/2-oz or even a 3/4-oz bait because I’ll most likely be fishing deeper than I would in the spring. I want a bait that I can effectively fish in anywhere from 10′ to 40’….

> “A lot of times when you have a shad die-off, that can really trigger a terrific bite…. If I’m in a cold-weather tournament, I’ll always have a ghost minnow and a red one tied on.

> “…Trokar EWG treble hooks. Most of the baits come with #4 hooks, but I’ll go with #2s. In the winter, a lot of fish will short strike the bait and with those oversized hooks, I get better hook ups.”

He likes a 7′ 7″ Ritual Angling Team Lintner Series Glass Rod, which is a glass/graphite hybrid, but bear in mind he’s a tall dude so you might wanna go shorter. He likes a low 6 gear-ratio reel and 14-lb Sunline Crank FC fluoro.

Quote of the Day

“I can honestly tell you…right then in those 10-15 seconds it took Forrest to say those words, wow…a lot of things got lined up, if you know what I mean. I can only say…wow…it was a major moment in my life.”

Jerry McKinnis talkin’ to donny barone about the first time he met Forrest Wood. They were just a couple country dudes who loved fishin’ back then. No one, least of all them, knew what was fixin’ to happen.

Love that Jerry, and probly Forrest, looked back on that “chance” meeting in awe. “Chance” in quotes because, well, there’s really no such thing….

Here’s a cool pic from don’s post — think it’s Jerry in a Ranger, a shot I believe he sent to Forrest. Water’s lookin’ a little sketchy…a little too hard, if you know what I’m sayin’:

Shot of the Day

Bettin’ he’s younger than this up there and his smile’s even bigger:
Ya got me

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