Bass fishing legend Bill Dance calls him "my mentor, my friend, my advisor and among the top contributors to the success of Bill Dance!" Bobby Murray, two-time Bassmaster Classic champion, describes him as "the first true, professional bass angler." Jerry McKinnis, host of The Fishin' Hole, said he was "simply the greatest bass fisherman I've known, and I've known them all." In the earliest days of bass tournament fishing before there was a BASS he was widely regarded as the best in the business. Along with his tournament success, he was an innovative lure manufacturer and acclaimed outdoor writer.
Glen Andrews was one of the all-time great professional bass anglers, yet few know his name.
Born on an Ozarks farm near Lead Hill, Ark., on May 31, 1931, adulthood came fast to Andrews. Farm labor toughened his hands and heavy loads flattened his feet. Fortunately, the White River provided respite from the daily grind. On weekends, he would float the river with friends, catching linesides (largemouth), brownies (smallmouth) and goggle-eyes (rock bass) on their only two lures, a Lucky 13 and an L&S Bass Master.
In 1950, Andrews graduated from high school in an economically depressed Ozarks area offering few career opportunities. He chose to rely on what he knew the outdoors and fishing. At his first job, he raced against rising water to log timber from the newly impounded Bull Shoals Lake. When it filled, the owner of Lead Hill Boat Dock offered him a job as one of the lake's first fishing guides.
On the first cast of his very first trip, a customer slapped Andrews across the face with a Lazy Ike lure, nearly knocking him out of the boat. It was an inauspicious start to a legendary guiding career that spanned 15 years across Bull Shoals, Table Rock, and Beaver lakes. Three hundred days per year on the water molded Andrews into a master competitor who dominated early professional fishing.
While guiding on Bull Shoals, father and son lure designers O.L. and Dave Hawk introduced him to lure manufacturing. In 1955, he started Andrews Lure Company. At its height, it employed 15 workers and offered nine lures the Stinging Lizard, Aqua-Squid, Twin Spin, Catch-all, Lead Head Jigs, Jig-M-Worm, Helicopter, Silver Shad Spoon and the Flitter Tail "Slip-Sinker" Worm kit (his best selling lure). Unfortunately, Andrews never patented his lures, and replicas of the Flitter Tail "Slip-Sinker," now known as the Texas rig, flooded the market.
Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, Andrews carried his baits to sport and travel shows throughout the Midwest, performing trick casting exhibitions to pay for his exhibit space. In the early 1970s, he sold his molds and materials to bassing stars Billy and Bobby Murray.
In 1962, Andrews started fishing tournaments. Before BASS came on the scene, the World Series of Sport Fishing dominated the world of tournaments. It was the most prestigious event of its kind in the U.S. and produced such greats as Harold Ensley, Joe Krieger, Virgil Ward and Jimmy Houston. That same year, Andrews won the Missouri State Championship and placed second to Virgil Ward in the World Series of Sport Fishing. In 1963, he finished in second place again, but after sitting out in 1964, Andrews finally triumphed in 1965 and again in 1966 his last tournament. With that victory, he became the only two-time world champion.
During his stint on top of the tournament world, Andrews also syndicated his "Anglers World" newspaper column and wrote Techniques of Bass Fishing, a manual from which he taught classes across Arkansas and throughout the Midwest.
In 1967, BASS founder Ray Scott walked into Andrews' office door in Rogers, Ark. Scott convinced him to help organize the All-American Invitational in Springdale on Beaver Lake. Andrews played a key role in organizing the tournament and recruiting participants. Scott later described him as his "sounding board. If I had any questions about the tournament, I asked Glen because I knew he had the answers." Within a year, BASS was born and the modern era of professional bass fishing had begun.
Modern tournaments created a new generation of stars, including an Andrews protégé named Bill Dance. The two met at an outdoor sports show in the Memphis, Tenn., area when, according to Dance, "he took the time to teach me how to read both shallow and deep water, the importance of using my electronics, how to read maps, how to locate key structural features, and how to catch bass on them. He knew bass habits and bass habitats better than anyone I had ever met."
Later that year, Andrews became the president of the Professional Sports Fishing Association, the first nationwide, non-profit organization for professional anglers structured to resemble the PGA in golf. The organization was short-lived, however, crumbling after Andrews stepped down in 1968 to support his family.
Glen Andrews now lives with his wife in Lead Hill, Ark., where he goes bass fishing at every opportunity.
Editor's note: An Impossible Cast: Glen Andrews and the Birth of Professional Fishing is available from The Whitefish Press. Learn more about the book and Glen Andrews at animpossiblecast.com.