The Hall of Fame annually recognizes up to three individuals and two groups or organizations that have made a major impact on Minnesota's sport fishing industry. The Hall stands to recognize all passionate fishing promoters, whether they have made a difference through education, legislation, guiding, manufacturing, media promotions or other means.
Individuals must be a state resident, have lived in Minnesota for a minimum of 25 years, be at least 50 years of age, and have made meritorious contributions to the sport of fishing. Businesses and organizations may also be nominated, provided they are registered in Minnesota and have made similar noteworthy contributions to fishing. Nominations are accepted from the general public, and the list is reduced to the top ten by current Hall members, after which finalists are voted on for induction.
"Fishing sure beats housework...and most anything else you can think of," says Sybil Smith, who has been publishing fishing guides and writing about fishing on Minnesota lakes since 1982. Her first edition of The Twin Cities Fishing Guide sold over 80,000 copies and was followed by The Brainerd Whitefish Fishing Guide. For every fishing guide, Sybil conducts extensive research on every body of water; interviews numerous experts who have fished that water for a lifetime; contacts the many government agencies responsible for the planning and management of public boat accesses, shore fishing, parks, and lake stocking and management; and personally visits with each of the lakes to verify the data. Sybil has been featured in numerous newspapers and magazines and for many years wrote weekly articles on what’s new in Twin Cities fishing for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Paul co-founded Thorne Bros. Custom Rod & Tackle and The Fly Angler retail stores with his brother Gregg. The brothers were credited with designing and marketing some of the very first graphite ice rods and were on the cutting edge of creating new rod designs for a number of national brands. After selling the retail stores, Paul went on to become V.P. of Sales and Marketing for Zercom Marine, a manufacturer of marine electronics. In 1998, Paul co-founded MarCum Technologies, a manufacturer of innovative ice fishing sonar and underwater viewing systems incorporating a number of patented features. Paul re-joined brother Gregg in 2018 and co-founded Two Brothers Innovations, which designs and markets over 65 different models of winter and summer fishing rods under the Elliott and 2B brands.
Ray Gildow is a professional fishing guide with over thirty-five years of guiding experience. He started guiding out of Sugar Point Resort on Leech Lake in the mid-1980’s. In 1989 Gildow joined the Nisswa Guides League, Minnesota’s oldest guides league founded by brothers Al and Ron Lindner and Marv Koep. The league has provided over 50,000 guided fishing trips since its inception in the late 60’s. In 2004, he wrote the book Legends and Legacies, A History of the Nisswa Guides League. Ray was selected as the guide for Governor Mark Dayton for the 2014 Minnesota Fishing Opener. In 2017 Gildow was named “Person of the Year” for his work in education and conservation awareness by “Outdoor News”, one of Minnesota’s premier weekly outdoor newspapers. Gildow served as host of “Lakeland Currents”, a public affairs program that featured a wide variety of topics like fishing, hunting and current affairs for thirteen years on Lakeland PBS. Gildow is currently co-host of “Fishing Tips”, with Mandy Uhrich, a marine biologists and tournament angler. It airs during the open water fishing season on Northern MN PBS. Gildow is a seminar speaker and a free lance writer. For the past five years he has written fishing and outdoor articles for “Action Outdoors”, a weekly newspaper series that appeared in newspapers in Minnesota and Wisconsin before the Covid Virus suspended publication. He has published in a variety of newspapers and magazines over the past thirty-five years. Gildow was born in Pine River, Minnesota, graduated from high school in Brainerd, Minnesota and retired as a vice president of Central Lakes College with campuses in Brainerd and Staples. He and his wife Gwynne live in Staples.