The North Dakota Fishing Hall of Fame in Garrison has seen a revival of sorts in recent years.
The nonprofit hall housed at North Country Marine & Motorsports dates to 1981 and includes the names of 38 anglers who rose to prominence in the sport, including the most recent inductee – the late Bob Meter of Bismarck, who invented the bottom bouncer fishing tackle.
Meter, a Bismarck man who died in 2014, was inducted in a July 18 ceremony with family members on hand. He is the 17th person to be enshrined since 2013, when inductions resumed after an eight-year hiatus.
There also have been other similar gaps through the years, including one from 1992-2003.
“It’s always been staffed by volunteer board members, and when they ran short of help, it minimally functioned those years,” Hall President Keith Witt said. “We got it going again in 2013. We invigorated it with some new board members, and got it going again.”
Witt moved to Garrison in 2012 and was working as the executive director of a nonprofit economic development group when someone approached him with the hall records, looking for help getting it active again.
Witt took on the leadership role when he couldn’t find anyone else to do it. The hall now has 10 other board members, including Garrison Chamber of Commerce members, fishing enthusiasts, and people in the industry ranging from a resort owner to an outdoors journalist.
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The hall’s mission is to “recognize and honor those persons, organizations, or institutions that have made significant and lasting contributions to sportfishing in North Dakota.”
Photos of inductees and summaries of their contributions adorn the walls of the North Country Marine & Motorsports showroom. Fishing artifacts also are on display. There is no charge for admission.
Examples of inductees include pro angler Johnnie Candle; former North Dakota Game and Fish Director Dean Hildebrand; the Devils Lake-based Lake Region Anglers Association; outdoors broadcaster, columnist and conservationist Tony Dean; and Meter.
His invention in 1964 revolutionized walleye fishing, as the bottom bouncer is a staple of most anglers’ tackle boxes, for fishing lakes or rivers with weedy or rocky bottoms that can cause a lot of lost tackle and frustration.
Meter also is remembered for his advocacy of the sport and his efforts to get young people involved in it. He volunteered for fishing events, especially those involving boat safety and water safety and youth-related events. He was a founding member of the Bis-Man Reel & Rec club in 1979, and he organized the group’s Take-a-Kid-Fishing program.
“I hadn’t even heard of the Fishing Hall of Fame, and I don’t know if dad had, either,” said son Alan Meter, of Bismarck. “But he’s a worthy candidate.“
More information on the hall can be found on its website, www.ndfishinghalloffame.org.