Muskie man: Gil Hamm helped start muskie fever

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 2, 2013 - 8:04 PM

Gil Hamm is a major reason Minnesota has become the top muskie fishery in the nation, and he and his friends helped launch the catch-and-release philosophy so prevalent in fishing today.

hide

Hamm’s love of angling was apparent in his St. Paul office.

But for one man’s vision, the state might not be the epicenter of the fish that it is today.

His name was Gil Hamm. He lived in St. Paul and he loved to fish.

Never heard of him?

Hamm is a legend in muskie circles. He is a major reason Minnesota has become the top muskie fishery in the nation, and he and his friends helped launch the catch-and-release philosophy so prevalent in fishing today. The construction contractor founded Muskies Inc. in 1966 after catching muskie fever on a fishing trip to Ontario.

“Driving home past hundreds of northern Minnesota lakes, the thought occurred to me that a lot of these should be good muskie fishing waters, but they weren’t,’’ Hamm told the Minneapolis Star in 1979, five years before he passed away at age 80.

He stopped at the DNR the next day and asked about muskies.

“When someone there suggested I fish in Wisconsin, I really got mad,’’ he said.

He decided to form a muskie group and rounded up 13 like-minded anglers, including Frank Schneider Jr., also a legendary conservationist from St. Paul, who died in 2005. The group got two dozen lakes designated as muskie waters, where spearing was prohibited, and stocked muskies with fish produced at the group’s own hatchery.

Perhaps more importantly, Hamm and his buddies elevated the view of muskies and helped anglers — and the Department of Natural Resources — see the potential.

“I have to give them credit for awakening the people of Minnesota to the value of the fish,’’ Robert Herbst, then DNR commissioner, said in a 1974 Minneapolis Star story.

Today, Muskies Inc. has about 7,500 members and 50 chapters in the United States. The Twin Cities chapter is the largest, with about 500 members. The evolution of muskie fever, and Hamm’s vision, will be on display this weekend at the 19th annual Minnesota Muskie Expo in St. Paul. Nowadays, more than 100,000 anglers are estimated to fish muskies in the state, part of a $90 million industry.

It’s a far cry from when Hamm and the handful of anglers met in an upstairs room over a St. Paul restaurant to create Muskies Inc.

“I guess I thought we might have chapters some day,’’ he told the Minneapolis Tribune in 1980. He lived long enough to see his group flourish. “They’re talking muskies and Muskies Inc. all over the country,’’ he said in that interview.

Integral to the success of the muskie fishery is the catch-and-release ethic that took off under Hamm and his group.

“I think the greatest contribution Muskies Inc. has made is our muskie release program,’’ he said in 1981. “The first year, our members released about 15 percent of the muskies they caught. Now our members nationally are releasing 94 percent.’’

That figure is closer to 99 percent today.

Hamm also was a visionary. After stocking Minnetonka, White Bear Lake, Harriet and the St. Croix River with muskies, he was excited about the potential.

“Eventually, I think some of the better muskie fishing might be right in the metro area,’’ he said in 1979.

  • related content

  • Gil Hamm made the muskie life’s work.

  • Gil Hamm, founder of Muskies Inc., left, with Frank Schneider Jr., a conservationist and early supporter of the group. Both from St. Paul, they played an instrumental role in creating a world-class muskie fishery in Minnesota.

  • Hamm stocked lakes with muskies from a Muskies Inc. hatchery.

  • muskie expo

    George’s Minnesota Muskie Expo runs Friday through Sunday at Gangelhoff Center at Concordia University in St. Paul. The show is named after its founder, George Wahl of Golden Valley, who died of cancer in 2008.

    Hours: 2-9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to

    4 p.m. Sunday

    Cost: $10, or $17 for three-day pass. Parking is free.

    Information: www.mnmuskie

    expo.com.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Detroit
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Atlanta 6:00 PM
Washington
Golden State 6:30 PM
Miami
Detroit 7:00 PM
Milwaukee
Sacramento 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8:00 PM
Denver
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Columbus
Ottawa 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Los Angeles 7:00 PM
Nashville
Edmonton 7:30 PM
Dallas
Colorado 8:00 PM
Arizona
New Jersey 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Calgary 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Fresno State 52 FINAL
East Carolina 58
Morgan State 73 FINAL
Elon 74
Purdue 82 FINAL
Missouri 61
Hawaii 62 FINAL
Marist 55
Liberty 42 2nd Half
North Florida 35
MD-Eastern Shore 17 2nd Half
Bucknell 32
Western Carolina 35 1st Half 0:21
Georgia State 37
BYU 55 1st Half 4:22
Chaminade 37
Evansville 5:00 PM
Green Bay
Alabama 6:00 PM
Arizona State
UT Martin 6:00 PM
Bethune-Cookman
SE Missouri St 6:00 PM
Bowling Green
NC Central 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Fair-Dickinson 6:00 PM
Columbia
Citadel 6:00 PM
Florida State
Houston 6:00 PM
Harvard
William Peace 6:00 PM
High Point
Texas-Arlington 6:00 PM
Kentucky
St Francis-NY 6:00 PM
La Salle
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
New Hampshire
Chicago State 6:00 PM
Oakland
Ark-Pine Bluff 6:00 PM
Ohio
Hartford 6:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Saint Peters 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Jackson State 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Long Island 6:00 PM
Saint Josephs
Hofstra 6:00 PM
South Florida
Western Ky 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Loyola-Maryland 6:00 PM
Syracuse
Penn 6:00 PM
Temple
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toledo
Tennessee St 6:00 PM
Virginia
Northern Iowa 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Western Ill 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Ohio Valley 6:00 PM
Wofford
Toccoa Falls 6:00 PM
Presbyterian
Mount Ida 6:00 PM
UMass Lowell
Kansas State 6:30 PM
Arizona
Binghamton 6:30 PM
Army
Central Arkansas 6:30 PM
Char Southern
Howard 6:30 PM
UMBC
VA Commonwealth 6:30 PM
Oregon
Akron 6:30 PM
Penn State
Arkansas 6:30 PM
SMU
Jacksonville St 7:00 PM
Alabama A&M
TX A&M-CC 7:00 PM
Bradley
Eastern Ill 7:00 PM
Creighton
St Xavier 7:00 PM
Ill-Chicago
Northern Ariz 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Nebraska Omaha 7:00 PM
Nebraska
NC A&T 7:00 PM
Saint Louis
Columbia International 7:00 PM
SC State
Troy 7:00 PM
Southern Miss
St Francis-PA 7:00 PM
Texas
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Southern U 7:00 PM
Tulane
Norfolk State 7:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Jarvis Christian 7:00 PM
Abilene Christian
MN-Crookston 7:00 PM
North Dakota St
Lamar 7:05 PM
Arkansas State
IUPUI 7:05 PM
Drake
San Francisco 7:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Miami-Florida 8:00 PM
Charlotte
Air Force 8:00 PM
Colorado
Boise State 8:00 PM
Idaho
Louisiana 8:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Buffalo 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Maryland 8:30 PM
Iowa State
Northwestern 8:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Villanova 9:00 PM
Michigan
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
San Diego St
Bristol University 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Cal State Fullerton 10:00 PM
USC
Delaware 10:00 PM
Stanford
Ohio U 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Belmont 55 FINAL
Kent State 58
Robert Morris 75 FINAL
Coppin State 58
UMKC 48 FINAL
Western Ill 71
Manhattan 48 FINAL
La Salle 61
UC Santa Barbara 34 FINAL
Arizona 61
Santa Clara 62 2nd Half 3:26
LSU 54
Tulsa 60 2nd Half 0:20
Texas Southern 60
SE Missouri St 29 2nd Half 16:42
Ole Miss 37
Air Force 2 1st Half 18:49
Army 4
Towson 2 1st Half 16:56
UMBC 2
St Bonaventure 4:30 PM
Penn State
Texas-El Paso 5:00 PM
Kansas State
Cheyney 5:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Johnson C. Smith 5:00 PM
NC A&T
Winthrop 5:00 PM
NC Central
USC Upstate 5:00 PM
SC State
Quinnipiac 5:00 PM
(2) Notre Dame
Buffalo 5:30 PM
(8) Duke
Washington St 6:00 PM
Hampton
Bryant 6:00 PM
Brown
Vermont 6:00 PM
Central Conn St
St Francis-NY 6:00 PM
NJIT
(21) Rutgers 6:00 PM
Wagner
IUPU-Ft Wayne 6:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Fairleigh Dickinson 6:00 PM
Monmouth
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
UCF
SIU-Edwardsville 6:00 PM
IUPUI
Duquesne 6:00 PM
Howard
Fordham 6:00 PM
Delaware
Saint Josephs 6:00 PM
Drexel
Liberty 6:00 PM
Elon
New Hampshire 6:00 PM
Penn
Valparaiso 6:00 PM
Akron
Grambling 6:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Western Ky 6:00 PM
(12) Louisville
Arizona State 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Charleston Southern 6:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Southern 6:00 PM
(22) Georgia
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Mercer
Hillsdale 6:00 PM
Eastern Michigan
Ohio U 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Gardner-Webb 6:00 PM
Appalachian St
Bucknell 6:00 PM
Youngstown St
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Rider
Lehigh 6:00 PM
Saint Peters
George Mason 6:00 PM
Navy
High Point 6:00 PM
Davidson
Old Dominion 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
SW Assemblies 6:30 PM
Houston Baptist
LSU-Alexandria 6:30 PM
Northwestern St
Wofford 6:30 PM
Jacksonville St
ULM 7:00 PM
(25) Miss State
Morgan State 7:00 PM
(20) Oklahoma St
Lyon 7:00 PM
Central Arkansas
Lamar 7:00 PM
Texas State
Mobile 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
St Edwards 7:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Lipscomb 7:00 PM
Murray State
UAB 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Northern Iowa 7:00 PM
(17) Iowa
Southern U 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Harvard 7:00 PM
Holy Cross
Colorado 8:00 PM
Denver
Portland State 8:00 PM
Oregon
Montana State 8:00 PM
San Diego
Idaho 8:00 PM
Wyoming
Pepperdine 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Long Beach St 9:00 PM
Boise State
Nevada 9:30 PM
San Francisco
Yale 10:59 PM
Alaska-Anchorage
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close