BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) _ In a possible prelude to starting an outdoor sports network, ESPN bought BASS, an organization that runs fishing tournaments.

``This is very exciting for BASS, our membership and our sport,'' Helen Sevier, president and chief executive officer of BASS, said Wednesday. ``Our relationship with ESPN began to flourish since last July's announcement that ESPN2 would televise our events.''

Sevier will continue to oversee the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, which has more than 600,000 members and publishes a bass fishing magazine.

Bass fishing has grown to a nearly $60 billion industry, according to BASS. The group started in 1967 and has a $6 million professional tournament circuit, with the BASS Masters Classic the main event.