March 10, 2020
By Lynn Burkhead, OSG Senior Digital Editor
Dave Whitlock, the Oklahoma native who became a well-recognized figure in fly fishing and fly tying circles the world over, has been inducted to the International Game Fish Association’s Hall of Fame.
A longtime contributor to Fly Fisherman, Whitlock was named to the magazine’s “50 Most Influential Fly Fishers in the Last 5 Decades” list in the fall of 2018 when the 50th Anniversary edition of Fly Fisherman was printed, and more recently joined Joe Brooks, Lefty Kreh, and Lee Wulff in being named to Fly Fisherman's "Fly Fishing's Mount Rushmore".
In joining this year’s IGFA Hall of Fame Class, Whitlock joins pelagic game fish researcher Dr. Barbara Block; famed billfish angler and conservationist Jose Campos; marine conservationist Ken Hinman; and game fish advocate Patrick Gay as new inductees.
The class of five inductees—inducted unanimously by the IGFA Board of Trustees—will be enshrined at the IGFA Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sept. 12, 2020 in Springfield, Mo. at Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.
“The 2020 class is a diverse group of extraordinary individuals that have certainly earned their entrance into the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame,” said IGFA President Jason Schratwieser, in a news release.
“Their work truly embodies the IGFA’s commitment to game fish conservation and the promotion of ethical angling practices, and we look forward to honoring them in September.”
Whitlock, who turned 85 last November, lives on a ranch near Tahlequah, Okla. and has routinely fished the Illinois River and other waters in the Ozark Mountains region of the Sooner State.
After being born in Muskogee, Oklahoma and educated at Northeastern State University, he turned a college science degree into a research chemistry position in the oil industry.
But at the age of 35, a longtime love for fly fishing and the outdoors world spurred Whitlock to make the leap into a career devoted to angling. He's never looked back, becoming a multi-talented communicator who writes, lectures, and photographs the fly fishing world.
Along with countless magazine stories and Internet articles, Whitlock is the author of several books including the L.L. Bean Fly Fishing Handbook; the L.L. Bean Bass Fly Fishing Handbook; Dave Whitlock's Guide to Aquatic Trout Foods; Trout and Their Food; and his most recent work, Artful Profiles of Trout, Char, and Salmon and the Classic Flies That Catch Them. He has also been a contributor to several other books over the course of his career.
Whitlock is one of North America’s most innovative fly tyers, coming up with dozens of patterns over the course of his career including his well-known Dave's Hopper, Sheep Minnow series, the Red Fox Squirrel-Hair Nymph, the NearNuff Crayfish, the NearNuff Sculpin, and the Dave's Diving Frog to name a few.
Known as widely for his art as he is for his writing and fly tying, Whitlock is a talented painter who creates fly fishing images for fly tying vise bases, coffee mugs, coasters and limited-edition prints. He has been a prolific illustrator too, creating art for his own books and some 20 others.
On the conservation side of things, Whitlock has been a key contributor to the propagation and management of wild trout with the Whitlock-Vibert Box System that he helped to create. An in-stream salmonid egg incubator and nursery device, the system—which Whitlock wrote a book about—has helped to develop northern Arkansas’ trout fisheries into renowned rivers and streams that have produced world record size brown trout.
The Oklahoman's love of piscatorial critters knows no bounds as he has become a recognized expert on such diverse species as trout, bass, and sunfish.
He has also helped to popularize the rise of fly fishing for carp, temperate bass species in Mid-American waters, and adventurous treks to such places as South America to search for golden dorado.
Whitlock’s induction into the IGFA Hall of Fame this year adds to the fly angler’s distinguished list of awards and accolades. That collection of honors includes induction into the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, the Trout Hall of Fame, the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum Fly Fishing Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Game & Fish Hall of Fame to name a few.
His list of accomplishments also includes the Max Ander’s Wild Trout Award for work on the propagation of wild trout, the Fly Fishers International Conservation Man of the Year Award, the Buz Buzeck Memorial Fly Tying Award, and the Dr. James E. Henshall Award for work in warm-water fishing and conservation. Whitlock is also the recipient of the Lifetime Contribution Award from the National American Fly Tackle Trade Association.
In joining the IGFA Hall of Fame Class of 2020, Whitlock will join some 131 other legendary anglers, scientists, conservationists, writers and fishing industry leaders whose contributions to sport fishing are forever remembered and celebrated by the IGFA. Other well-known figures in the IGFA HOF include Zane Gray, Mary Orvis Marbury, Ernest Hemingway, Ted Williams, Bill Dance, Mark Sosin, Lee and Joan Wulff, Curt Gowdy, Flip Pallot, and the late Lefty Kreh to name a few.
To learn more about Dave Whitlock and his wife Emily, please visit their website at www.DaveWhitlock.com. To learn more about the IGFA Hall of Fame, please visit https://igfa.org/fishing-hall-of-fame-1.