Fishing debate: Who are the GOATs?
The press release for the 2022 class of Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Famers just went out and there are some amazing individuals who were chosen for the honor. Not once, but twice since the release hit, I have been asked who is or was the greatest angler of all time. Who is the fishing GOAT (Greatest Of All Time)?
Unfortunately, that individual does not exist. It is because there are too many variables when it comes to angling in general. Someone who was the GOAT bass guy probably would fail miserably for walleyes. Someone who was a GOAT in fresh water wouldn’t hold a candle to a saltwater GOAT.
So that means we have to break it down.
Who is the GOAT for walleyes? My pick is Gary Roach. He was guiding and fishing competitively at an early age. He pioneered many different techniques and was an early adopter and innovator when sonars came onto the scene. When tournament angling for walleyes began he was winning from the beginning and maintained a high level of success until he retired from competition. Always willing to share his knowledge and help others achieve success, Gary Roach is my top choice for walleye GOAT.
Who is the GOAT for bass? My pick is Kevin VanDam. VanDam began his career in 1990 at the age of 23. In 1992, he became the youngest person to win the B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year title, at age 25. He has won four Bassmaster Classic titles. His 25 career B.A.S.S. tournament series wins are the most career wins on the Bassmaster’s tournament trail. He has been Angler of Year seven times on the Bassmaster tour and was also the FLW Angler of the Year in 2001. In competitive bass angling there are no others that have accomplished as much making Kevin VanDam my top choice for bass GOAT.
Who is the GOAT for top fishing educator? My pick is Al Lindner. In 1966 Al, along with brother Ron, moved to Brainerd, Minn., to get their start in the fishing tackle and guide business. Once established as fishermen and as fishing guides, the Lindners decided to test the waters of outdoor television. In 1970 with Al in front of the camera and brother Ron scripting, filming, and directing the show, the pair filmed their first episode teaching people how to find and catch fish.
In 1979, they created In-Fisherman, the parent company for the sport fishing magazine and nationally syndicated radio and television shows of the same name. It was a dynasty that changed the world of fishing communications and taught millions how to catch more fish which makes Al Lindner my number-one choice for Fishing Educator GOAT.
Who is the GOAT for the greatest fishing entertainer? Bill Dance, of course. Dance was an accomplished angler winning seven of the first 17 Bassmaster events he entered. He also won the respected B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year title and qualified for the Bassmaster Classic an impressive eight of the nine years he competed on the B.A.S.S. circuit. In 1968 one of his sponsors suggested he start a television show to promote the product. The program originally began on an ABC affiliate in Memphis and expanded to the entire country over time. It led to a career that spanned more than 50 years, touched the hearts and minds of literally millions, and ultimately made Dance the most recognized face in bass fishing of all time which makes him an easy pick for Fishing Entertainer GOAT.
These are but a few categories that can claim a GOAT in the fishing world. It’s a list that can extend a long way.
Best Bobber Fishing GOAT – Mick Thill.
Best Rod Designer GOAT – Gary Loomis.
Best Boat Designer GOAT – Forrest Wood.
Best Fishing Promoter GOAT – Ray Scott.
Etc., etc., etc….