Rayo Breckenridge. A classic bass fishing name – which I mean in only a good way – and a classic dude. Never knew him, but knew him as a bassin’ fan and student of the sport as a classy guy. Like no bragging, quiet, let’s get down to bizness.
Ray Scott called him the “soft-spoken dude from Paragould” – including one time in a letter to Rayo, that Rayo received just before he died in 1995.
He could also fish. Check out this paragraph from here:
After dominating the bass fishing club circuit in northeastern Arkansas during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Breckenridge found his way onto the fledgling Bassmasters Tournament Trail in 1973. He rose to the pinnacle of angling that same year with a victory in the Bassmaster Classic world championship on Clarks Hill reservoir in South Carolina.
How many folks do you know who dominate one of the toughest bassin’ states in the universe – Arkansas – fish B.A.S.S. and win the Classic in their rookie year? Yeah, you could say it was “back then,” but:
- He wasn’t exactly fishing against tools. He beat Bill Dance and Tom Mann, among other certified legends, in that Classic.
- He was using fiberglass rods (maybe just one?), probably laughable mono, likely a couple baits, no fancy electronics or Google Earth, etc. – and he still caught 58 1/2 pounds of bass. On Clarks Hill! (I think it takes 10 guys to catch that much weight on Clarks Hill now…lol.)
But more than Rayo Breckenridge’s success as a professional angler or a TV star, Joey Breckenridge wants people to remember his father for being a “genuine good guy” — and that’s an opinion held by more than a few.
World-famous lure designer and professional angler Don Norton first labeled Rayo Breckenridge as the “gentlemen’s gentleman.”
‘Act Like You’ve Been There’
Remember the days before Ike won the Classic? Pro bassin’ was a mite different back then, and it stemmed from folks like Rayo. Check these lines from the above article:
Breckenridge wasn’t insanely loud or covered with flame tattoos like current New Jersey bass pro Michael Iaconelli. [Ike is insanely loud and covered in tats?!]
He didn’t have earrings or a ponytail like South Carolina angler Jason Quinn, and he never became known for a flashy catchphrase like Michigan superstar Kevin VanDam has with “Sexy.” [KVD is known for a flash catchphrase, not for fishin'?!]
A native of Paragould, Ark., Breckenridge made a living fishing professionally when the sport was still in its infancy and dominated by true gentlemen.
He was known as the “gentlemen’s gentleman”…. “My dad just wasn’t that kind of guy,” said Joey Breckenridge, an Olive Branch businessman. “You watch a Bassmasters show these days and see all of the screaming and the jumping up and down and acting crazy. You would have never seen that from my dad. He would have said, ‘Act like you been there before.’ “
Rayo Breckenridge will be enshrined into the Legends of the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame during an Aug. 18 ceremony aboard the General Jackson riverboat in Nashville. He’ll be inducted alongside outdoors greats like Day Scott, Bill Dance, Roland Martin, Harold Knight, Wade Bourne and Buck Gardner. Joey will give a speech that night in his honor.
“If Dad was here to speak on his own behalf, he wouldn’t try to regale anyone with his accomplishments. He would be humble. He would tell people how lucky he felt to spend so much time around all of the great anglers on the professional trail. That’s the kind of man he was – and I was lucky to have him as my dad.”
No doubt. FYI, here’s Rayo’s Bassmaster.com profile.