BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Jerry McKinnis, former B.A.S.S. co-owner, founder of JM Associates, and a legend in the fishing industry, passed away early Sunday morning. The 82-year-old McKinnis had been in the hospital for six weeks, dealing with an injury and infection sustained on a fishing trip in Wyoming.
McKinnis, along with Don Logan and Jim Copeland, purchased B.A.S.S. from ESPN in 2010, and then sold controlling interest in the organization to Anderson Media in 2017. He was the leader of JM Associates, producing award-winning television and Internet shows about fishing and the outdoors. McKinnis was also the beloved host of the television series The Fishin’ Hole, which ran on ESPN for 44 years.
McKinnis was a member of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame.
“Jerry was a true friend of the angler,” said Bruce Akin, CEO of B.A.S.S. “He contributed so much to the sport of fishing, extending all the way from his days on The Fishin’ Hole through his ownership of B.A.S.S.”
McKinnis and his partners hired Akin to lead the 500,000-member fishing organization shortly after they acquired it.
“Jerry was one of the most passionate people I’ve ever known as it relates to the world of bass fishing,” said Logan. “I don’t think I ever met anyone who spent more time than Jerry did thinking about how to make B.A.S.S. and bass fishing better — better for the anglers, better for the fans and members, and better for the sponsors.
“We came from very different backgrounds and totally different perspectives, but we always were able to reach common ground on any issue or problem we faced. He was not only a business partner, but he was also a true friend.”
A pioneer in outdoors television, McKinnis and his JM Associates production team took over production of the long-running television program The Bassmasters for B.A.S.S. and ESPN in 2001. Prior to that he helped create the FLW Tour and ESPN’s Great Outdoor Games, and he later developed the Redfish Cup and the Madfin Shark Series.
McKinnis was dedicated to bringing new participants into the sport of bass fishing. He held the first collegiate bass fishing championship and was instrumental in the creation of B.A.S.S.’s Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops and the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors.
Bassmaster.com will have addition information on funeral arrangements in the coming days.