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By Pete Rosko
It was July, 1987 when I had the good fortune to meet Mike Hall for the very first time. It was at an annual event in Las Vegas, which brings all of the fishing tackle businesses across the country together called the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association (AFTMA). Anyone associated with the sport fishing business was welcomed to attend, which included ambassadors, dealers, distributors, factory representatives, guides, manufacturers, professional anglers, speakers, TV and radio personalities, writers, and more.
Mike Hall is, and was, all of those.
My purpose at that show was to introduce two lures that I had created several years earlier, which were being manufactured in Ohio. Those lures were the Crippled Herring, a metal jig initially designed for salmon, and the Erie Shiner, a weight-forward spinner especially designed for Lake Erie and Columbia River walleyes. Each of those lures attracted constant attention at our booth. That was when Mike came by and introduced himself to me. During our conversation, it quickly became apparent that Mike had a special aptitude for the intricacies of sport fishing and fisheries management. We exchanged business cards and agreed to stay in touch before parting.
Within the next five months, it quickly became obvious that Mike’s knowledge of fishing was far and beyond what I initially envisioned. The following was one example:
Mike was scheduled in December as a featured speaker to several thousand attendees at the Salt Lake City Sports Show. It was a three-day event, beginning on a Friday. The topic of his seminar was How to Fish Metal Jigs. More specifically, Mike featured my Crippled Herring. This was when I first learned that “when Mike speaks, people listen!”
It was Mike who taught me to always back up my seminars with product availability as a convenience and learning consideration for that audience. By providing “product in hand,” a real connection was made between Mike’s words and the actual product. Mike felt that it was a discourtesy to an audience for not providing the ability to acquire that product after taking their valuable time to attend a presentation of that product.
As a result, Mike ordered $10,000 worth of Crippled Herrings in time for the show’s Friday start.
It was late on that Friday night when I received a call from Mike in Salt Lake City. He was completely sold out and needed more Crippled Herrings. This collaboration with Mike eventually led to the creation of the Sonic BaitFish, which is now marketed and manufactured by Mack’s Lure, whom Mike has been associated with as an ambassador and Pro Staff member for many years.
The following year, Mike invited me to spend a week with him in Utah. It was my first introduction to Flaming Gorge Reservoir and into the mind of a gifted fish scientist and educator. Mike’s fisheries experience extended beyond the boundaries of Utah and into the states of Colorado and Wyoming. He jointly worked with those states’ fisheries authorities to improve fishing opportunities for the public.
Mike has been a tireless and dedicated advocate for freshwater anglers in those three states and elsewhere.
Mike’s Pro Staff position with Mack’s Lure has given him the opportunity to teach his open water – and ice fishing – techniques on YouTube, at trade shows and beyond. Through his video presentations, in particular, you will witness, in scientific detail, his desire to make you a better angler. This is why we affectionately refer to Mike as our “rocket scientist.” It’s not only for his fishing knowledge, but also for his background in working with rocket propulsion systems at Boeing.
It's now been over 35 years since I first met Mike, who I will always remember as a modest “true friend of freshwater anglers” due to his love for our land and waters and his passion to make each of us better anglers.
During my 86 years, I have had the opportunity to fish with over a dozen Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame anglers. In every category, Mike has exceeded those requirements to be inducted into this special club of anglers. That also includes service to our country as a two-tours-of-duty distinguished Naval combat medic. Incidentally, Mike also holds five Freshwater Hall of Fame line records set within a single week.
If any of you out there knows Mike like I do or has learned from Mike over the years, please take the time to nominate him for the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame before the annual deadline on July 1, 2023. Details on how to submit a nomination are listed below. If you would like me, Pete Rosko, with any information that you may require, my phone number is 239-398-6516. Please leave a message and I will return your call the same day. Thank you!
Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame
10360 Hall of Fame Drive
Hayward, WI 54843