Evinrude announced today that Team Evinrude Professional Angler Tommy Skarlis was inducted into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame at the Northern Illinois Sports Show on January 18th at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake, Illinois. Executive Director Emmett Brown from Hayward, Wisconsin made the official induction personally.
An Iowa native, Skarlis honed his fishing skills on Clear Lake, the Mississippi River and its backwaters, as well as the small lakes, farm ponds, and expansive reservoirs throughout the Midwest. Skarlis’ knack for stalking Walleyes turned into a tournament-fishing career, which took roots in 1991. From 1993 to 1998 he fished the Masters Walleye Circuit (MWC), and along the way earned Team of the Year and Team of the Year Runner-up honors. In addition to qualifying for the MWC Championship six straight times, Skarlis also reeled in a Big Stone Lake Champion title in 1996 with partner Chad Kinkade.
In 1996, Skarlis joined In-Fisherman’s Professional Walleye Trail (PWT). He has since thundered through the circuits; winning the prestigious PWT Angler of the Year title in 2004, snatching 23 top-ten finishes, capturing several biggest 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 events, in 2001 at the Detroit River and in 2002 at Lake Erie. In fact, his total weight of 138.28 pounds for 15 fish at the 2002 Lake Erie event set an all-time world-record for total tournament weight in a professional event. In July of 2003, he became part of an elite group by winning his 3rd PWT event, held on Lake Erie in Dunkirk, New York. He advanced that status a notch or two by winning his 4th PWT event in April of 2004 – setting numerous records in the PWT. In 2008, he won the most prestigious title in Walleye fishing, the FLW Walleye Tour Championship. Skarlis continued his winning streak by winning the inaugural A.I.M. Pro Walleye Series Tournament in Saginaw Bay, Michigan in 2009. In total, Skarlis has qualified for 29 straight national championships.
To be considered for induction into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, nominees must have had a “lasting national or world impact to the benefit of fresh water sportfishing; are considered persons who have developed a unique communication means or avenue which was instrumental in introducing fishing to the public or in maintaining public interest or awareness; and have gained, by their expertise and professionalism, a status of credibility and immortality judged so by their customers, the region and/or their peers.”
“You know, a lot of people asked, ‘When are you going to make the Hall of Fame?’,” said Skarlis. “To me, I never expected to make it, I just dreamed of it. So now it’s time to springboard off of this recognition and use this accolade as an opportunity to inspire more people to go fishing. My life was changed for the better through fishing and if I had to pick what I wanted my legacy to be, it would be for my fishing to help change other peoples’ lives for the better.”
The Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum is the international headquarters for education, recognition and promotion of fresh water sportfishing. Its 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. The Museum strives to conduct and maintain a program for the recognition of persons, organizations and institutions who have made significant and lasting contributions to the sport and heritage of fresh water fishing. They also conduct and maintain a program for qualifying, compiling and publishing all fresh water sportfishing records.