Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Call for state’s best fisherman is revised

By Steve Sarley

Contributing Writer


I’m going to add a little more clarification to the question I posed the last time we met. I asked, “Who do you fine readers think is the best fisherman in the state of Illinois?” 


I mentioned a lot of names of people who came into my mind. I also mentioned many that I felt did not belong on the list because they really weren’t Illinoisans. I threw out a lot of categories to consider, like tournament fishermen and charter captains.


Sure, there are plenty of choices to be made from lists of well-known people. I would not mind hearing about some people you think are tremendous fishermen but who aren’t household names in the world of fishing. 


It would be easy to name someone like central Illinois’ Jim Crowley from “Hook and Hunt TV” or Chris Taurisano of the T-Bone Guide Service on the Fox Chain. Both of those gentlemen certainly can fish with the best of them. Their names are well-known, and they have a lot of fans. I think as answers to my question, those names are what might be called “low hanging fruit.” Too easy!


I am thinking that the best fisherman in Illinois might be someone who most of the public has never heard about. They just need to have their name put out there and, hopefully, you are the people that are going to do it for them.


Every local lake, pond, river and reservoir has a fisherman that is known for his skill on that particular body of water. I’ve fished on lakes where the locals talk about an angler in reverent tones. Do you know what I mean?


Have you ever been on a trip and visited a local tackle shop where the guys are hanging around talking about what “Crappie Joe,” has been catching them on lately? I’m just making up a name. It could be “Walleye Willie” or “Musky Pete.” I am sure you have heard talk about a local legend that people think is the best fisherman on a particular body of water. 


I know that I hear tales about legendary local anglers just about every place I visit. Keep your ears open when you are hanging around a dock while other fisherman are swapping stories. I know a name will come up that people talk about in a manner that is very respectful of their abilities. There are more local legends than I could possibly keep track of. Maybe one of these local legends are the best fisherman in Illinois.


The best fisherman in Illinois doesn’t have to be a celebrity at all. My father taught me how to fish. He was a danged good walleye fisherman. As much as he tried to teach me, I could never come close to his ability at hooking those sneaky golden eyes. Was my dad the State’s best fisherman? Probably not, even though I thought so until I turned 16 years old. My sons probably thought I was the best fisherman in Illinois until they turned eight or ten and got to know better!


How about it? Don’t be embarrassed to offer your opinion that a friend or relative is the best fisherman in our state according to your personal opinion. Like they say, everybody has one. Don’t be shy about expressing yours.


I follow professional tournaments pretty closely. Let’s say that Gary Parsons wins a huge event trolling cranks for walleyes on Lake Erie. Does that make him the best walleye fisherman? Not necessarily. 


The best walleye fisherman might be some unnamed Indian guide in Northern Wisconsin who always catches big sacks of fish for his clients no matter how challenging the conditions are on the local lakes he fishes. 


The problem is that the local guide doesn’t get the ink that Parsons gets and nobody ever hears about him.


Those are the kind of fishermen I would like you to tell me about. I know there are scores of great fishermen are out there and I’d love to hear about them. By the way, there is no rule against claiming that you, yourself, is the best fisherman in the state. If you really believe that, don’t be shy!


Well, I hope I have given you some more food for thought so that you can offer me your suggestions as to who you think is the best fisherman in the State of Illinois. Please fill my mailbox!

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