Tommy Skarlis getting his due with hall of fame induction

I first met this character close to 25 years ago when he was just starting out in the world of professional fishing.

We subsequently shared a boat numerous times as his fish-catching skills improved to greater heights.

His tournament specialty centered on walleyes and his tournament prowess kept the paychecks coming in.

And just like that Iowa native Tommy Skarlis switched gears and made a trip to Mississippi for some of the best crappie angling in the country. And then the Skarlis magic took over when he and his partner won a championship.

Skarlis breaks the mold - he's a touring walleye and crappie fishing professional champ who enjoys hooking panfish through the ice, bass in the backwaters and walleyes on the Great Lakes. He's also a promotional hunter that pursues most species of North American upland game, waterfowl and big game.

Tommy has a long list of accomplishments and honors, and is going to pick up another award this month.

He is being inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame during a special ceremony at the Northern Illinois Sports Show at 3 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake.

This lifetime achievement is the highest honor in the fishing, and Skarlis is truly deserving.

According to the hall of fame, "Skarlis is often described as one of the most versatile anglers on the planet. Most notable sportfishing anglers are stereotyped into a single category, such as angler, guide or communicator. He's a touring walleye and crappie fishing professional. His charismatic acute ability to share this multispecies knowledge with others makes Skarlis even more significant to the outdoor world."

According to the hall of fame, Skarlis began fishing at 3. His tournament fishing career began in 1991. From 1993 through 1998 he fished the Masters Walleye Circuit. He qualified for the championship eight times and won the event once on Big Stone Lake in Minnesota.

In 1996, he joined In-Fisherman's Professional Walleye Trail and won the "PWT Angler of the Year" title in 2004 and qualified for the PWT Championship 13 straight times. He won the event in 2001 and 2002.

In 2008, he won the most prestigious title in walleye fishing - the FLW Walleye Tour Championship. Skarlis has qualified for over 40 national championships and was named one of the Top Ten Anglers on the planet by Outdoor Life.

For more information on Skarlis, visit

For details on the Northern Illinois Sports Show, go to

• Catch Mike Jackson Outdoors 8 to 9 a.m. Sundays on WCGO AM-1590 or stream live at Reach him at

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