The Oklahoma biologist who wrote the Bible on fish care will be the new National Conservation Director for B.A.S.S. (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society).
Gene Gilliland, 57, will retire as assistant chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation on Dec. 31 and begin his new position with the professional bass fishing organization next year.
Gilliland has worked as a volunteer consultant for B.A.S.S for many years. He has attended almost every Bassmaster Classic in the past 20 years to help ensure that the fish caught in the tournament are kept alive and returned to the water.
In 2002, B.A.S.S. published a book authored by Gilliland on keeping bass alive in tournaments. The tips in the book, many of which Gilliland learned from his research as a fisheries biologist in Oklahoma, have become standard operating practice for bass tournament anglers.
The survival rate of fish caught in bass tournaments has improved dramatically over the years.
“I think over the last 20 years it has made a difference,” Gilliland said of his research that began at bass tournaments in Oklahoma. “More and more (bass) tournaments are doing things right, and more and more anglers are doing things right.”
As National Conservation Director for B.A.S.S., Gilliland will earn a seat on many national policymaking committees in areas such as sport fishing, fish habitat, water quality issues, etc.
He also will work with B.A.S.S. Nation conservation directors in 47 states on local issues. Gilliland wants to recruit more professional anglers to be voices for conservation.
“I think I've got an opportunity to do some good in a lot of areas and make a difference,” he said.
Gilliland, who will continue to live in Norman, has worked for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation as a fisheries biologist for 31 years.