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International Game Fish Association announces 2024 Fishing Hall of Fame inductees

by IGFA 2 Mar 00:26 UTC
2024 IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame © Dean Curtis

In recognition of their extraordinary contributions to recreational angling around the world, The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) named five angling greats to the 2024 class of the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame.

This year's inductees into the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame represent angling luminaries who have made significant contributions to the sport. They include James A. Henshall, a pioneer in bass fishing who revolutionized angling techniques and fish culture; Tom Pfleger, whose four-decade career is marked by 24 IGFA World Records and pioneering environmental research; Nick Smith, whose billfishing prowess and conservation efforts have set global standards; Kevin VanDam, whose professional angling career resulted in unparalleled tournament successes; and Ralph 'Agie' Vicente, whose half-century commitment to marine conservation and ethical angling practices has left a lasting impact on Latin American fisheries.

Elected unanimously by the IGFA Board of Trustees, the 2024 class will join 146 legendary anglers, scientists, conservationists, writers, and fishing industry leaders whose contributions to sport fishing are forever enshrined and celebrated in the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame.

"As we welcome these distinguished individuals into the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame, we celebrate not just their remarkable achievements but their enduring legacy in shaping the very fabric of recreational angling," said IGFA President, Jason Schratwieser. "Their unwavering commitment to excellence, innovation, and conservation serves as a beacon of inspiration for anglers worldwide. In honoring their contributions, we reaffirm our commitment to preserving the rich heritage of our sport for generations to come."

The 2024 IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held on Saturday, September 14, 2024, at Johnny Morris' Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri. The 2024 class will take their honored places alongside fishing luminaries, including Isaak Walton, Michael Lerner, Francesca LaMonte, Zane Grey, Mary Orvis Marbury, Ernest Hemingway, Ted Williams, George H.W. Bush, Bill Dance, Mark Sosin, Lee and Joan Wulff, Flip Pallot, Alfred C. Glassell Jr., Kip Farrington and Curt Gowdy, among others.

James A. Henshall (1836 - 1925)

James Henshall stands as a towering figure in bass fishing history, widely acclaimed as the foremost advocate for the bass's recognition as a premier game fish. Renowned as the author of seminal works such as Book of the Black Bass and More About the Black Bass, Henshall's profound impact on angling literature is indisputable. His immortal words, proclaiming the bass as "the gamest fish that swims," resonate through generations of anglers.

Henshall's contributions extend beyond mere prose; he is credited with potentially inventing the renowned "pitching" casting style, forever altering the methodology of angling. Henshall's pioneering efforts in rod design earned him recognition as the progenitor of modern baitcasting rods, shaping the very tools anglers rely on today. Beyond angling technique and equipment, Henshall's legacy endures in his groundbreaking work in fish culture, notably as the first to successfully raise black bass in a controlled environment. Serving as president of the American Fisheries Society and hatchery manager for the U.S. Fish Commission, Henshall's dedication to fisheries management and conservation remains unparalleled. His profound influence is immortalized in the scientific nomenclature of the Alabama bass, Micropterus henshalli, ensuring his lasting legacy in the annals of angling history.

Tom Pfleger

For nearly four decades, Tom Pfleger has carved an illustrious path in both freshwater and saltwater angling realms, wielding light tackle and fly gear to secure an impressive tally of 24 IGFA World Records across a diverse array of species. From the majestic Pacific bluefin tuna to the elusive California yellowtail, Pfleger's angling exploits have captivated enthusiasts worldwide. His journey into the annals of angling history commenced in April 1988 when he reeled in a formidable 15-pound Pacific cubera snapper off the shores of Baja, Mexico, marking the genesis of an extraordinary career.

Undeterred by time's passage, Pfleger continues his quest for big game, culminating in his most recent triumph on October 2, 2021, with the capture of a staggering 218-pound, 8-ounce Pacific bluefin tuna on 15-kilogram (30-pound) line class. Beyond his remarkable angling feats, Pfleger is celebrated for his pivotal role in founding the Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research (PIER) in 1998. Dedicated to fostering sustainable fisheries management and public education through applied field research, PIER stands as a testament to Pfleger's enduring commitment to conservation. His active involvement in ongoing studies underscores his tireless efforts to promote environmental stewardship within the angling community.

Nick Smith

Nick Smith's angling journey began off the Palm Beaches in1955, igniting a lifelong passion for billfishing that continues to burn brightly. Evolving from conventional dead and live bait sailfish fishing, Smith has honed his focus to fly fishing for billfish, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of the sport. With a storied career marked by tournament victories, accolades, and remarkable angling feats, Smith has unquestionably set the standard for billfishing excellence. As a three-time recipient of the esteemed West Palm Beach Fishing Club's Donald S. Leas International Angling Award, his dedication to angling mastery is unmistakable.

Since embracing fly fishing for billfish in November 1999, Smith has achieved extraordinary success, releasing over 6,000 billfish in accordance with IGFA Flyfishing Rules, a testament to his skill and conservation ethos. Beyond his impressive catch statistics and tournament triumphs, Smith's influence extends to pioneering fishing techniques, tackle innovations, boat designs, and shaping the landscape of modern angling. His profound impact on the sport, coupled with his unparalleled contributions, unequivocally position him as a deserving candidate for induction into the prestigious IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame.

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam, a towering figure in the world of bass fishing, has etched his name in angling lore through unparalleled skill and dedication. With a professional career that spanned more than three decades, VanDam has amassed an astonishing array of achievements, earning him the moniker "The Greatest Pro Angler of All Time" by many in the fishing community. Renowned for his uncanny ability to consistently locate and entice bass in a variety of conditions, VanDam has claimed an unprecedented four Bassmaster Classic titles, a feat unmatched in the sport's history. Beyond the Classic, he boasts a record 25 B.A.S.S. wins and seven Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles.

During only four years with the FLW Tour, he finished in the top 10 nearly 30 percent of the time, further solidifying his status as a true legend of the sport. Beyond his tournament success, VanDam is revered for his contributions to angling education and conservation, tirelessly sharing his knowledge and passion with fellow anglers around the globe. In addition to these accomplishments, VanDam's philanthropy extends through his KVD Foundation as well as contributions in the KVD Charity Classics with the Detroit Lions, Michigan hospitals, March of Dimes and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Ralph 'Agie' Vicente

Ralph 'Agie' Vicente's profound dedication to sportfishing spans over half a century, marking him as a revered figure within the Caribbean and Latin American angling community. A globe-trotting enthusiast, Agie has traversed the world to advocate for fishing, conservation, and camaraderie among fellow anglers. His illustrious career is punctuated by numerous achievements, including serving as the IGFA Representative for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, and as an esteemed IGFA Trustee since 2010. Notably, Agie has been honored with the prestigious IGFA Barry Fitzpatrick Conservation Award and has chaired the renowned San Juan International Billfish Tournament.

A trailblazer in promoting catch-and-release practices within billfish tournaments across Puerto Rico and neighboring Latin American nations, Agie has left an indelible mark on the landscape of marine conservation. His unwavering commitment to the sport's ethos, regulations, and conservation principles has garnered him widespread recognition and admiration. Wherever his travels take him, Agie's fervent passion for angling shines through, solidifying his status as one of the foremost authorities in the realm of recreational fishing.

For more information about the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame or to make a nomination, go to

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