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.

Dan Gapen

Dan Gapen

Inducted 2000

Many who know the author will call him fisherman. Some may make claim to his fight for running water and call him environmentalist. But, to those who really know the man, he’s a caring naturalist. Still others know Dan Gapen, Sr. as a man whose roots reach far back into another time and another world. Dan could be called the conscience of Mother Nature.

Born April 9, 1934, on the shores of North America’s giant Lake Superior, Dan Gapen, Sr., is considered one of the land’s top anglers. To most he is the continent’s number one river fisherman.

During the late 1930s and 1940s and most of the 1950s, young Gapen learned about the wilderness, its treasures, waterways and demands. Dan’s father and the originator of the world famous Muddler Fly, saw to it that his son was exposed to this wilderness at a point on the map called the Nipigon River in northern Ontario. Here Dan was worm boy, fishing guide, charter boat operator, river runner and lure creator.

At the age of six, young Dan learned the art of fly tying. At eight, his spending money came from lures and flies he created in his father’s tackle shop. At fourteen, he became a fishing guide and worked closely with several old Indians who were eager to teach. During the cold and bitter winter months when his father’s fishing resort was closed, he learned to trap and understand the need to conserve wildlife and its habitat.

At a point in history when America’s wilderness had not yet expanded beyond young Gapen’s home, there was time to transform his lessons into a lasting lifestyle. Today, these lessons learned are still an intricate part of his life. Attempting to pass this love of nature on to his readers is part of the man.

Over the years, Gapen fought desperately to save running water. Every facet of governmental bureaucracy has felt his sting. Gapen has been a staunch supporter of the National Wild and Scenic River Act since its inception – a legislative bill he helped mold and support along waterways such as the upper Mississippi.

Many recognize Dan’s name in conjunction with fishing tackle (lures), and for many years he has directed the manufacturing and supply of his American-made products. By using the skills and heritage handed down through generations, Dan Gapen has been able to make a living around fishing and communicating the natural life. These same outdoor skills now include photography, writing and TV show production. When asked, this man places fishing first, waterfowl gunning second and his photography third.

Regarding his writing, Dan makes no bones about his ability. He readily admits to being a romantic and that his writing style may not please the educated writers of the world. But, it’s not these people whom he wishes to please. He speaks to the average outdoor person and fisherman. It’s those people and their enjoyment he seeks with his stories, tales and fishing know-how.

Both Dan and his father Don are members of the International Fishing Hall of Fame as well as being members of the Domestic Fishing Hall of Fame at Hayward, Wisconsin. Dan was nominated for these two prestigious Halls because of his never-ending efforts to preserve the natural environment.