There are legends in the sport of fishing, and then there’s Bill Dance.

    If you’ve ever so much as put a worm on a hook with visions of catching a fish, you have probably heard of him. In fact, if you grew up without a strong fishing influence in your family, there’s a good chance that watching Dance’s show on random Saturdays is what inspired you to get your hands on a second-hand rod and reel and bait that hook in the first place.

    Dance was dominant as a tournament angler, but it was our good luck that in the late 1960s he decided to parlay his competitive accomplishments into what would become arguably the most successful television franchise in the history of outdoor programming. And it’s no exaggeration to say that in the process he – by way of Bill Dance Outdoors programming – has likely introduced more Americans to recreational fishing than anyone in history. Period.

    Don’t believe it? Try getting his autograph at an announced appearance at a trade show. The line will stretch for an eternity, and people will happily spend a substantial portion of their day waiting for the moment they can shake his weathered hand, sheepishly ask him to autograph a hat and grin for photos like they just reconnected with their high-school best friend. Moments later, the pictures are proudly shared on Instagram and Facebook, and probably texted to all their fishing buddies, not to mention their parents and grandparents.

    It’s been said that you should never meet your heroes because they’re sure to disappoint. Thankfully that’s not how people feel after meeting Bill Dance. He greets people with a warmth and genuine interest that makes you believe you just shook hands with a modern-day Will Rogers. If anything, most will likely come away admiring Dance even more, if that’s possible, and count the few minutes they spent with the legend among the highlights of their angling lives.

    Continue reading at