In fish and fishing, it’s essential to get updated on the current news and learn a bit about the history and the people. So, why don’t you check your list and find out if yours hit the top list of the world’s most famous and best anglers!
Top #11 Andy Mill
Placing in the eleventh of the most famous anglers that you should know is Andy Mill. He took a variety of careers–broadcasting, writing and is a renowned world-class downhill ski racer. But not only that, but Mill is also a known Tarpon lover. He even has an endearment for it, which he calls “poon.”
Checking up his fishing stats, he’s best and killed fly rod tournaments with more wins than anyone. He is the only angler to have won a Tarpon, Bonefish, and Permit tournament on the fly. Andy Mill has so much love for his first love that he wrote an award-winning book, A Passion for Tarpon.
It’s incredible to fall in love with fishing just because of a string. Yes, you heard it right, a string but no ordinary string because it was by Ernie Schwiebert. Goodman Ernie helped him with his first attempt at casting. The first sight of the string was his love, but the first trout dropped the bomb to make Mill fall for fishing more.
This master and lover of Tarpon grew up in Aspen, Colorado. Mill described it as the place with the greatest mountains in the world. It’s full of ice suitable for skiing, and when summer’s in, it’s the best for fishing that he would even spend his entire summers on the Roaring Fork River chasing fish till dusk.
During his childhood, Andy Mill dreamed of winning at night. He dreamed big, and for that, he spent decades of learning fishing with the best mentors and guides he could find. He spends a lot of time fishing and fishing 40 days a year chasing Tarpons.
Colorado was his playground! So, what do you know, maybe you should play too! Don’t take fishing too hard. You should enjoy it and have fun. That’s what Andy Mill did, and look where it got him now—a five-time Gold Cup winner, which is the biggest fly rod tarpon tournament so that you know.
And just like any other anglers out there, he also failed and lost, but he found the courage and was restless, determined to win. Andy Mill was full of hope. He finds a lot of hope in fishing, and that’s why he loves doing it. He’s like a child hoping for a sunny day, for plenty of fish to be around, and for them to take the bait and take a bite! Andy Mill has that child in him but also has that determination and commitment of a man, and that’s what you should be.
Top #10 Joe Brooks
Next, that landed the tenth spot is Joe Brooks. If you’re a fly fishing fanatic, then you must have known this guy. Well, he’s just the guy who coined the term sportsman, and not only that; he’s just the father of modern fly fishing! He practically pioneered everything in fly fishing, popularized and expanded fly fishing than any other individual.
This man is a star! He appeared and hosted the first outdoor TV series ‘The American Sportsman‘ in the 1960s. Joe brooks also wrote different articles and books about how to start fly fishing and the techniques in fly fishing. He was born into a family of businessmen. He worked and tried, but he was not happy about it.
So Joe brooks pursued his two passions- writing and fishing! Hmm. There’s something fishy going on in here. Andy Mill and Joe Brooks, they’re pretty alike. They’re both known writers and loves fishing so much. Joe Brooks knows what he wants. He listens to what his heart says— he loves fly fishing!
Joe Brooks loved it so much that he shared it with the world by teaching and mentoring, traveling to different places like Argentina and the Everglades, exploring new ways or techniques using a fly in catching new and different fish species that weren’t tried or caught before. And that’s what makes Joe Brooks legendary!
Top #9 Michael Lerner
At number nine, coming in at number nine, is the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) founder Michael Lerner, a researcher and one of the greatest anglers of the early times. Lerner and his wife set out various fishing expeditions to explore and study different types of fish species, even those who haven’t seen the light of day. His works provided knowledge and understanding about the saltwater gamefish and proved to be an essential source for anglers, scholars, biologists, and conservationists. Lerner was also honored in the IGFA’s Hall of Fame and received numerous awards from different international bodies to contribute to the scientific and angler community.
Top #8 Ray Scott
What’s your world’s favorite game fish? It’s the Bass! Bass became famous because of Ray Scott. He influenced many anglers and even people who are not yet inclined to fishing to indulge in bass fishing through his television shows. He is known as the man who changed recreational fishing into a multi-billion dollar industry. He inspired many people at home to fish by letting them feel the joy of fishing while these people were watching TV! Scott was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the IGFA for his works, expanding the modern-day bass angling.
Top #7 David Moore
Now, down to number seven of the most famous is David Moore, a native Oklahoman angler whose name was included in the top 20 best anglers on the planet of the outdoor life. Moore, who was a former Bass angler, found Carp fishing more interesting. He participated at the World Carp Championship in 1999 and 2012 and at the 2009 World Carp Classic held in France. Moore and his fishing partner landed a total weight of 377lbs. 12 oz. at Nature’s Trophies Carp Challenge in 2010!
In 2004 he received a lifetime achievement award from the Carp Anglers Group for his dedication to promoting American Carp angling. He is the co-founder of the American Carp Society who has a mission to change the Carp’s image, and serves as a tournament director for Carp Tournament events.
Top #6 Curt Gowdy
Curtis Edward Gowdy, the only man behind the voice of every major sports event! Gowdy has both passions for announcing and fishing. He’s the famous American sportscaster of NBC Sports and has covered many nationally televised sporting events. He spearheaded the creation of “The American Sportsman,” the first fishing show on television. Curt Gowdy has 22 Halls of Fame from different award-giving bodies in different fields, one of which is the International Fishing Hall of Fame in 1981, IGFA Hall of Fame in 2003 National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2005.
Top #5 John Wilson
The best-known angler throughout Europe, John Wilson, takes the number five spot. He’s been an angler for over sixty years, honored and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010 by the IGFA. In 1986, he started his show “Go Fishing,” which ran for 18 years. Wilson inspired many of his viewers and readers to start and to rekindle their long-lost love for fishing. He was recognized as the sole force behind the revival of sports fishing in the UK and was given a title as the “Greatest Angler of All Time” by Britain’s weekly Angling Times.
Top #4 Mike Iaconelli
You’re almost at the top, and the list is almost over. Mike Iaconelli was born in Philadelphia, is a professional Bass fisherman who won the 2003 Bassmaster Classic. He began fishing at a young age in the Pocono Mountains. He founded the “Top Rod Bassmasters,” a bass fishing club where he started participating in tournaments. In one of his tournaments, the Federation tournament, he broke a record of 19.58 pounds! And it was at the 1999 Bassmaster Classic, he finished in sixth place, Iaconelli received his first major sponsors.
He continued to bag his success, hauled in more than 4,000 pounds of bass, snagged five tournament wins, and finished in the top ten about 44 times! He is still on the top of his career, mastering the art and continuing his pursuit for the win. In 2014, Mike won the Bassmaster Elites at Delaware River and currently hosting “IKE LIVE!” a fishing talk show that features professional anglers in bass fishing and other fishing fanatics.
Top #3 Zane Grey
A one-time holder of over a dozen saltwater records, who is he? He was born on January 31, 1872, author and known for his popular adventure novels The Last of the Plainsmen and Riders of the Purple Sage. Got it? Do you need more clues? How about the first fisherman to drag around 471kg Pacific Blue Marlin? It’s Pearl Zane Grey!
Zane Grey contributed and popularized big-game fishing. He was a writer at the Outdoor Life magazine. He was inducted and received the IGFA’s Hall of Fame for his pursuits and contributions to the recreational fishing world. He mastered the methods to catch the elusive broadbill swordfish. He’s a devoted saltwater angler who spent most of his fishing, earning him to triumph and become a champion in-game fishing!
Top #2 Roland Martin
With over six decades of fishing experience in the water, Roland Martin is one of the most decorated and celebrated fishermen in bass fishing history. He is considered one of the founding fathers of modern bass fishing. Martin was one of the first anglers to introduce and popularize the idea of patterning fish. Like many famous anglers, Martin’s light shines brightly. He has TV shows on NBC, sharing his tricks and tips to young, less experienced anglers and avid viewers. He also has his fair share of fishing success, winning in tournaments, 19 pro tournament wins, almost 100 top 10 finishes, and 20-second place B.A.S.S. finishes. He was also entitled nine times as the B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year!
Top #1 Ernest Hemingway
Guess who’s on the number one list of the world’s most famous and best anglers that you should know. It’s (keep the drum roll going) Ernest Hemingway! So, what’s Hemingway’s secret that put him at the top spot? Maybe it’s Northern Michigan!
Northern Michigan was his Eden. He adopted his father’s outdoor hobbies like hunting, fishing, and camping in the wood and lakes, but it’s his personality and the constant pursuit of adventure that shaped him into the man that he was. He found solace and serenity in the forest or in wading a stream. He was three when he started fishing and ventured into deep-sea fishing in his early 30s. He won every organized fishing tournament. Incredibly, he caught one of the largest Marlins of all times, weighing almost 533kg!
Other than that, he is a Nobel Prize winner. He also received a Pulitzer award and is considered one of the great American 20th century novelists, but did you know that he almost missed his wedding so that he could enjoy fishing in Sturgeon River? Well, it's a good thing he got his wife hooked up, or else it would be another case of a runaway bride or, in this case, a busy fishing groom!
Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, and the famous Old Man and the Sea are just a few of his great works. You can check out these stories and try to read them. They’re full of adventure and fishing from the real-life experiences of the writer himself—his childhood memories, experiences, and his love for the place where he grew up and his passion for fishing. These stories did not only change literature forever, but they also instilled enthusiasm and stirred up curiosity and appreciation for the art of fishing.
You like fishing because you feel solace and connection with nature. You have the right quality of an angler but not yet the quality of the best angler. You know you have it in you. So, if you want to be like these guys, loved by fans, and you want to inspire people, teach them how to fish, entice them to fish, the answer is just simple, learn from the lives of those who were before you.
Like Andy Mill, give in to the child that’s in you– DREAM and HOPE. Like Joe Brooks, you must find your happiness—LISTEN to your heart. Like Michael Lerner, Don’t be afraid to EXPLORE; ENCOURAGE like Ray Scott; EMBRACE CHANGE like David Moore did. BELIEVE in yourself and NEVER QUIT like Iaconelli and the rest of these best anglers. Drive that passion and have FUN!