Bass Pro Shops’ Johnny Morris Doubles Conservation Pledge With $1.5 Million Donation From World’s Fishing Fair

by Jim Casey

Bass Pro Shops celebrated its 50th anniversary with the World’s Fishing Fair in Springfield, Missouri, on March 30–April 3. The one-of-a-kind event featured seminars, meet-and-greets, concerts and more from stars across the worlds of fishing, hunting, conservation, country music, and NASCAR.

Initially, Bass Pro Shops founder/CEO Johnny Morris pledged that 50 percent of all tickets sales from the event would benefit conservation. Johnny doubled down on his commitment, increasing his pledge to 100 percent of ticket sales. Johnny presented a donation of $1.5 million to benefit conservation.

At a Glance

  • Bass Pro Shops hosted the World’s Fishing Fair at their national headquarters in Springfield, MO, March 30–April 3
  • The World’s Fishing Fair drew guests from 47 states and Canada
  • The event featured stars from across the worlds of fishing, NASCAR, country music, and more, including Bill Dance, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Luke Combs
  • Bass Pro Shops CEO/founder Johnny Morris donated 100 percent of ticket sales ($1.5 million) to benefit conservation

Johnny Morris Gives Back

Conservation has always been a tenet of Johnny Morris, since founding Bass Pro Shops in 1972. Johnny initially started his business with a $10,000 loan and sold fishing lures out of his father’s Brown Derby Liquor Store in Springfield. Of course, now Bass Pro Shops boasts more than 170 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, with more than 40,000 employees. For the past decade, Bass Pro Shops has invested an average of 10 percent of annual earnings to support conservation.

“I’m very proud of our conservation,” said Johnny Morris to Outsider during a sit-down interview. “I think all fishermen, anglers, and hunters should be very proud of their role in conservation. Back in the days of Teddy Roosevelt and James Audubon, they were hunters and anglers. And by spending time in those pursuits, their passions, they became more connected to the nature and understanding habitat and the importance of conservation. And so, I look at our company and how we’ve been blessed from this.

“So it’s our obligation. If we don’t give back, if we don’t spend a good part of our day trying to—part of it’s business, it’s commercial—but more than that it’s for people in our company and for myself. It’s what we love and what we’ve been blessed to do. I was brought up to have these opportunities and I’ve seen them get better in my lifetime. Like my parents did, and what can we pass on to our kids and our grandkids. And conservation is pretty much everything.”

World’s Fishing Fair Highlights

The event showcased over 200 exhibits from more than 150 manufacturers across fishing, boating and outdoor categories, and more than 500,000-square-feet of tackle and equipment.

Luke Combs, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Chris Janson, John Anderson, and Hank Williams Jr., performed concerts. NASCAR’s Richard Childress, Austin Dillon, Martin Truex Jr., and Dale Earnhardt Jr., made appearances. And fishing legends Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston, Roland Martin, and more hosted seminars.

Outsider’s Jim Casey chats with fishing legend Bill Dance (left) and Bass Pro Shops founder/CEO Johnny Morris (right).