Forest Wood, Jerry McKinnis, Billy and Bobby Murray to share stories of fishing history.
It was the winter of 1970 when three fishing guides from Arkansas rolled into the ice covered City of Indianapolis towing a new kind of fishing boat. One of the men was Murray, who’d earned great notoriety in the growing sport of tournament fishing. Another was the Ranger boat’s creator himself; a man named Forrest Wood. The third was a professional baseball player who became a fishing guide after taking a trip with Wood down Arkansas’ White River. He was also the creator and host of what would become the longest running TV fishing show in history – a program called The Fishin’ Hole that would run for 44 seasons, started in 1963 by none other than Jerry McKinnis. They were here at Harry Renfro’s request.
“We came in the night before and put the boat on the floor,” recalls Wood, who had only been building boats for a couple years at that point. The men found a surprise when they arrived two hours before the show was to open the next morning. “There was a line of people a block long outside the coliseum,” continues Wood. “We didn’t know what was going on, so Jerry tapped one guy on the shoulder and asked him what the line was for.” Of course, the crowds of people were there to see Billy, Forrest and Jerry. The men were humbled. “We’d never experienced anything like that,” recalls McKinnis. “Even back in those days, Harry Renfro did a great job of marketing his show,” McKinnis continues. “We never expected anything close to the reception we received. Despite the bad weather, the show and our seminars were packed.”
“Indianapolis was really the first outdoor show to take an interest in bass fishing and help promote what we and others were doing,” Wood concludes. And what they were doing was simply meeting face-to-face with fishing enthusiasts and consumers to talk about fishing, an opportunity that only the consumer sport show can provide.