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.

Matt Straw

Matt Straw

Inducted 2024

I was born in Flint, Michigan, on December 9, 1953, to Ronald and Maxine Straw. My father was a WWII vet who flew 19 combat missions against the Japanese as a bomber pilot with the Flying Tigers. He became a dentist after the War. My brother, Monty, served in Korea and later retired as a lieutenant in the Michigan State Police after 35 years. My sister Deanna now lives in Tennessee.

I grew up around trout streams and bass lakes in Michigan and I was always fascinated with water and what lived in that “other world.” I remember dragging my first bass to the bank and tackling it when it came unhooked in the grass. I was about 8 years old. My dad didn’t fish, but became a reluctant angler for about a decade to introduce me. (We once caught a couple 18-inch crappies that might have been state records, but my dad was completely unaware of things. We did take photos next to a measuring tape, but I have no idea where those pictures are.)

I graduated with honors from Ainsworth High School in 1972.

In college, I used my spare time to research baitfish, aquatic insects, and limnology in the biology library at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, but graduated on the Dean’s List with a bachelor’s in English Literature, a teaching certificate, and a minor in communications. (Though I attended many classes in Ann Arbor, my degrees came through UM Flint.) I paid my way through UM while taking night classes and working full time as a bank clerk, a repo man—stealing cars from perps in the middle of the night—and a life-insurance salesman for New York Life. When I could only take remaining courses during the day, I worked part time at five different jobs—literary magazine editor, freelance writer, Athletic Crib Director for General Motors Institute, salesman, and collector while completing student teaching (I didn’t sleep much).

My professors encouraged me to publish and I did, placing articles with outdoor magazines long before graduating. After graduating and working as a teacher for several years, I secured a reporting job with Advance Newspapers. While there, living an hour from Lake Michigan and minutes from several major rivers, I took advantage of the fantastic steelhead, salmon, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill, lake trout and pike fishing in the area.

After five years with Advance, my beat not only accumulated more territory than any other reporter on staff, it was the biggest in the chain’s history. I covered everything from school events to the discovery of mastodon bones to murder. I left when my children were born to take care of them full time while writing at night (my wife, Cathy, worked for the State of Michigan and made a lot more than I did, so we agreed she should keep her job.) My beloved twins—Cliff and Chelsea—were born in 1986. They still live here, in Brainerd, where we often enjoy each other’s company. (I now have three grandchildren by Chelsea—Max, Marley, and Milo— the M&M’s!)

Still freelancing, I was offered a position as staff editor with In-Fisherman magazine in 1991, accepted, and served there for 21 years. I saw hundreds of published studies come across my desk, drew hundreds of illustrations, took thousands of photographs, travelled throughout North America wrote and edited more articles than I can count. And I worked for the Lindners! It was the best of times.

During those years I introduced concepts like using bio-diversity to locate fish, catching smallmouths “in space,” bobber-wacky rigging, pinpointing depths in the water column without downriggers, understanding smallmouth migrations in rivers, Indian summer “reversals,” understanding steelhead and trout migrations, using water temperature to locate crappies in spring, steelhead in rivers, smallmouths in lakes, and many, many more original topics. Reporting on things like satellite imagery to find “invisible structure,” I occasionally scooped the angling media. My report on Great Lakes salmon commonly using depths in excess of 1000 feet scooped all media.