Those We Honor

You’ll find more than just fishing celebrities in this list. One can make a significant impact
on the lives of many without ever being well known. It is important to honor all of
those who had a great influence on the great sport of fishing, whether famous or not.
Corporate advances tend to be much more visible to us. For it’s their products that
shape the evolution of the sport of fishing.

Class of 2023

For over 50 years, Tom Carlson has been an integral part of the Minnesota fishing industry. In 1965, Tom, along with his wife Annette, started Carlson Wholesale Tackle as a wagon jobber in Brainerd, MN. Tom would leave home early in the morning with a truck full of fishing tackle and sell all day while Annette cared for their children and managed the business’s finances. It was Tom’s engaging personality and commitment to customer service that garnered a loyal customer base and friendships from the very beginning. Whether it was selling in person, on the phones, picking or delivering orders, the customer’s needs always came first. As the business grew, Tom hired and trained employees with his commitment to customer service. It was and remains the forefront of the business. There was never a customer too small or too large for Tom’s personal attention. From designing and setting store shelves to working with the manufacturers on new and innovative ideas, Tom’s presence, determination and drive made him an instrumental part of his customer’s businesses. The business name changed to Carlson Sports Inc with the expansion to include hunting equipment and eventually shortened to CSI. With the addition of salesmen, warehouse and office workers, the business boomed and CSI became the leading distributor of fishing
and hunting equipment in the upper midwest. The CSI dealer show became the event of the year for fishing retailers. Hundreds of shop owners throughout the region would travel to St. Cloud for the three-day event. The CSI show was like none other in the state of MN as the manufacturers offered show deals to the retailers not to be had at any other time of the year. The dealers left the show with trucks, vans and trailers full of free goods and prizes. Tom is responsible for the success of these shows, and even after retiring, he continues to help with show planning. After the sale of CSI to Big Rock Sports, Tom remained committed to his employees and the customers he loved, as a senior advisor to the new management. Tom’s ideas and opinions continue to be valued and implemented today. He finally retired at 77 years young in 2016. Tom continues to enjoy fishing and hunting with family and friends and still has many of those first customer friendships to this