Ten individuals make up the group being inducted into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame 2020 class. Their milestones and legacies have shaped the boundaries of the world of fishing as we know it today. From developing innovative product lines to help everyone catch more fish or guiding thousands of clients to outstanding fishing these Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Famers have been pioneers and ambassadors for the sport so many people embrace.
Bruce DeShano’s (Michigan) credentials in the fishing arena are impressive, original, educational, and in many cases unparalleled. He owns and operates OffShore Tackle, a trolling board, and trolling orientated company out of Michigan. DeShano got his start many years ago Great Lakes trolling for salmon and trout, and built products that catered to the Great Lakes trolling community. He quickly realized that many of the same ideas would work well in the walleye fishing community and teamed with expert anglers to brainstorm, innovate and manufacture products for this fast growing industry. DeShano not only was a business owner that catered to anglers, but he is an accomplished angler in his own right. His prowess with salmon and trout is well known with many tournament wins on the Great Lakes. He has studied the walleye game and for many years fished walleye tournaments at the highest level with many top finishes.
DeShano is not just a manufacturer who builds products, but an angler that participates, learns more about each species and innovates his product line to help everyone catch more fish. One of his best attributes is what he gives back to the sport. DeShano has sponsored more anglers than almost any company in existence. From salmon and trout, to walleyes and now crappies, he has helped out many anglers through his sponsorships and support.
Roger Gant (Mississippi) has been a crappie guide on Pickwick Lake for more than 30 years. Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Famer Bill Dance called Gant the best fishing guide he knows. Gant’s signature fishing technique is what is often referred to as “trolling sideways backwards” or “side pulling.” Instead of fishing out the front or rear of the boat Gant fishes off the side. His trolling motor is mounted on the side not on the bow. Gant relies on his sonar to find slight changes in depth to locate schools of crappie. He fishes with ultra-light rods and uses his own custom jigs to catch the fish. Gant has been involved in boat designs that fit his style of fishing as well as tackle that is efficient and productive. There have been many outdoor communicators fish with Gant over the years and all have learned something new about crappie fishing using this style of fishing. He has educated thousands of fishermen through his articles in outdoor magazines, newspapers, fishing shows and radio programs on how to catch crappie by using his method.
Jim McDonnell (Iowa) founded the Iowa Great Lakes Fishing Club in 1967 and served as its president until his death in 2012. At one time it was the largest fishing club in the United States, with more than 300 members. McDonnell produced the club’s newsletter as well as all the events, including kids fishing clinics, community outreach programs and fishing tournaments. The club still operates to this day and is very active in youth education and cleaning up the waters of the Iowa Great Lakes.
McDonnell began guiding on the Iowa Great Lakes in the 1960’s. He was the first and he did it every year until his death. Even though he spent most open-water days guiding, even when he wasn’t, he was fishing just for the fun of it.
For many years McDonnell was known as the “Fishing Professor” for his extensive knowledge of nationwide fishing techniques and he shared this knowledge in his newspaper columns and on his radio programs. He headlined countless fishing seminars over the years. In what many consider the heyday of fishing education in the 1980’s, McDonnell did the first River City Anglers seminar with nearly 1,200 people attending. McDonnell always said that “teaching” was the key to the sport of fishing – introducing kids to fishing and the outdoors in general. He spent his life doing just that.
Captain Ted Peck (Wisconsin) started guiding the waters of Northwest Illinois in 1975, branching out to rivers in southwest Wisconsin in 1981. For the past 20 years he has based out of Pool Nine on the Mississippi River where he teaches the history and biodiversity of this great resource while guiding clients into multiple species of fish in this Iowa/Minnesota/Wisconsin boundary water. Peck has been writing about the outdoors even longer, penning at least one newspaper or magazine article every week for 47 years.
In 2011 he authored a book “Mississippi Musings with the Old Guide” which is a collection of vignettes and observances from his experiences as a fishing guide. In 2015 Peck introduced his own signature series lures, the ‘Teddy Cat’and the ‘Perchanator’. Bill Lewis Lures honored Peck in 2017 by renaming a Rat-L-Trap “Red Head Uncle Ted”
When not communicating the outdoors experience in broadcast and print, Peck continues to carry this message with seminars, public appearances and as a guide, fishing an average of 150 days every year all over the United States. He holds a USCG captain’s OUPV license and has been a licensed Wisconsin fishing guide since 1981.
Terry Peterson’s (Wisconsin) career as a fishing guide on the Hayward, Wisconsin lakes began 70 years ago in Chicago, Illinois when he and his buddies would take the city bus to the shores of Lake Michigan so they could spend their summer days fishing from the docks. The passion for fishing continued to grow through his childhood and teenage years, as he spent every possible moment dedicated to anything fishing. Making lures in the basement of neighborhood friends along with exploring any body of water that might possibly hold a fish continued to fuel his passion while growing up. His grandfather took him on his first trip to northern Wisconsin when he was ten years old and they hired a guide. The experience left a lasting impression and led to a career that has lasted over 40 years.
Terry knew how to catch fish and guiding guests at his Musky Tale Resort on Teal Lake resulted in a long professional fishing career, but he was never satisfied with the status quo. He began to modify, improve and tweak lures that were already available to fishermen. After selling Musky Tale in 1990, he started Guide’s Choice Tackle Company developing and selling innovative lures that became a staple in many tackle boxes. The Predator, Tek Neek and Scooter were baits that most musky anglers had to own and were carried by bait shops and tackle stores throughout the upper Midwest.
Duane Raver (North Carolina) is one of the country’s most prolific fish and wildlife artists. His paintings have been featured on more than 200 covers of “North Carolina Wildlife Magazine” alone. Raver is known and respected for the precision in which his work depicts his subjects. This attention to detail led to the University of Tennessee using the 1984 edition of “Fisherman’s Guide: Fishes of the Southeastern United States” as a fish identification textbook. Raver began painting at the age of 16 and moved to North Carolina in 1950 to accept a position as a fisheries biologist. Raver’s fishing paintings have been published many times in books in numerous states.
Gordon H. Reeves (Oregon) is a research fish biologist at the Pacific Northwest Research Station. His expertise is in the freshwater ecology of anadromous salmon and trout, conservation biology of those fish and aquatic aspects of landscape ecology. He has studied the ecology of anadromous salmon and trout in the Pacific Northwest, northern California, Idaho, Alaska and fish ecology in New Zealand and New York. Reeves has published over 75 papers on the freshwater ecology of Pacific salmon and trout, effects of land management activities on the freshwater habitats of these fish, conservation plans and dynamics of aquatic ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest.
Reeves has led committees that developed and evaluated options for managing federal lands in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. He served as the Team Leader of the Aquatic and Land Interaction Program of the Pacific Northwest Station in Corvallis from 1995 through 2012. He was co-leader of the Coastal Landscape Analysis and Modeling Study, a long-term, large, interdisciplinary project to model and evaluate forest policy effects at multiple scales. He was also a member of the NOAA Fisheries Technical Recovery Team for ESA which listed coho salmon in coastal Oregon. Additionally, he was a contributing member on the panel that reviewed the EPA report on the Pebble Mine in Alaska.
Tommy Skarlis (Iowa) is often described as one of the most versatile anglers on the planet. Most notable sportfishing anglers are stereotyped into a single category, such as angler, guide or communicator. He’s a touring walleye and crappie fishing professional who enjoys hooking panfish through the ice, bass in the backwaters and walleyes on the massive Great Lakes. His charismatic acute ability to share this multi-species knowledge with others makes Skarlis even more significant to the outdoor world.
An Iowa native, Skarlis began fishing at age 3. He honed his fishing skills on the Mississippi River, along with the small lakes, farm ponds and expansive reservoirs throughout the Midwest. Skarlis’ knack for stalking walleyes turned into a tournament fishing career in 1991. From 1993 through 1998 he fished the Masters Walleye Circuit (MWC), and along the way, he earned many high honors. In addition to qualifying for the championship eight-out-of-eight times, he won the event once on Big Stone Lake, MN.
In 1996, Skarlis joined In-Fisherman’s Professional Walleye Trail (PWT). He thundered through the circuit, winning the prestigious “PWT Angler of the Year” title in 2004, snatching 17 top-ten finishes, capturing several “Big Fish” awards and qualifying for the PWT Championship thirteen straight times. Skarlis earned the nicknames “Mr. Erie” and “Mr. April” by winning the first PWT event in 2001 at the Detroit River, and in 2002, at Lake Erie.
In 2008, he won the most prestigious title in walleye fishing – the FLW Walleye Tour Championship. Skarlis has qualified for over forty national championships and is one of the hottest tournament anglers in the history of competitive sportfishing. Skarlis was named one of the Top-Ten Anglers on the planet by Outdoor Life.
Alvin Staffan (Ohio) was more than a wildlife artist; he was a “fishing” artist. His paintings of fish not always showed them in a natural setting (e.g., walleyes attacking a school of shiners on a Lake Erie reef or a channel catfish sucking up a hellgrammite in a clear water stream), but also typically showed them either contemplating a strike (e.g., a pumpkinseed looking over a worm beneath a bobber in a farm pond or a musky rising up through a downed streamside tree to study a topwater lure) or fighting after being hooked (e.g. a largemouth bass throwing a spinner or a white bass on Lake Erie trying to throw a spinner)
Great art has an effect on its viewers and Staffan’s art fueled the desire of literally millions of young and old to go fishing. Many of his paintings appeared on the covers of the old Ohio Conservation Bulletin, the monthly magazine of the Ohio Division of Wildlife which ran from 1937 – 1965. His line art also filled the pages of each issue during his employ. Other major monographic publications by the Division of Wildlife, such as the 1950’s “Ohio’s Wildlife Resources” and “How to Catch Fish in Ohio,” were similarly filled with Alvin Staffan paintings and/or line art. The Division’s annual calendars during the 1950s featured nothing but twelve of his paintings. He also supplied the art on many of the covers of the national outdoor magazine Fur-Fish-Game.
Kim Stricker (Michigan) has been the host and producer of the “Hook n’ Look” Television Program (Outdoor Channel) since its inception, and he continues to educate viewers from a unique fish-eye perspective. For the past ten seasons, his underwater exploration of lakes, rivers and reservoirs across the country, has not only enlightened, but turned heads of both novice and seasoned professional anglers alike. Stricker has written and produced informative, eye-opening content in regards to the habits and habitat of largemouth, smallmouth, spotted bass, forage and invasive species, along with capturing the action and effectiveness of a wide variety of fishing lures.
Now at the age of 64, Stricker is a 27-year veteran of both the Bassmasters and FLW Tour. Winning the 1994 Bassmaster Michigan Top 100 and scoring a good handful of Top 10 finishes he has also qualified for the Bassmaster Classic and FLW Championships and has represented industry sponsors in a professional manner his entire career.
The Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum is the international headquarters for education, recognition and promotion of fresh water sportfishing. Our mission is to develop and maintain the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and its museum for the preservation and display of historical artifacts of fresh water sportfishing. We strive to conduct and maintain a program for the recognition of persons, organizations and institutions that have made significant and lasting contributions to the sport and heritage of fresh water fishing. We conduct and maintain a program for qualifying, compiling and publishing all fresh water sportfishing records. The Hall of Fame maintains a library that disseminates information and acts as the clearing house for historical and contemporary publications for the fresh water sportfishing industry. The Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame institutes programs to foster, maintain and improve our environment for future generations through promotion and education.