Forrest Wood, founder of Ranger boats and a founding father of tournament bass fishing, died Jan. 24 at Baxter Regional Medical Center in Mountain Home, Arkansas. He was 87.
Wood, who began his working career as a trout guide on Arkansas’ White River, developed one of the first specialized bass tournament boats in 1968, and grew it into one of the largest and most-respected names in the boating industry. He was a major factor in the growth of B.A.S.S. for more than 30 years.
In 1996, Wood began a long association with Kentucky-based Operation Bass, which was renamed “FLW” in Wood’s honor.
Under Wood, Ranger patented the aerated livewell to keep fish alive for release following a tournament. Largely as a result, catch and release has become one of the fishing industry’s most successful conservation efforts.
He was named to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in 1998. During his 7-year tenure he was instrumental in securing a minimum flow current on the White River to preserve the river’s trout fishery. The commission honored Wood by naming its nature center for him in Jonesboro.
He is survived by his wife, Nina, and four daughters.
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