Two new members inducted into N.D. Fishing Hall of Fame

GARRISON – The two newest members of the North Dakota Fishing Hall of Fame are Dennis Jeffrey of Garrison and Louis Gaukler of Cayuga. Both men received the honor at a packed Garrison City Auditorium this past Thursday evening, just prior to the rules meeting for the 2013 Governor’s Cup Walleye Derby.

Jeffrey was recognized for his lifetime contributions to fishing on and off the water. A true ambassador for the sport who never misses an opportunity to promote North Dakota fishing, Jeffrey turned the eyes of many in the fishing world toward North Dakota when he won “Angler of the Year” on the Ranger-Lund-Crestliner professional walleye tour in 2004. He was the first North Dakota fisherman to achieve a national title.

“I was pretty humbled when I found out I would be in the Hall,” said Jeffrey shortly after his induction. “It means a lot. There’s a lot of other deserving people. I’m going to make sure that I nominate those deserving people next year.”

Gaukler received the honor for his many years of contributions to the fishery and fishing activities in southeast North Dakota. Greg Donaldson, a member of the Cayuga Rod and Gun Club, has witnessed many of Gaukler’s contributions to fishermen.

“For 40 years, he’s been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department,” said Donaldson. “He has helped with stocking and the moving of fish. He is always making fishing better for the old-timers and the kids. He does it with no fanfare. No pat on the back. He never brags about any of this. That’s Louie Gaukler. It’s only fitting that he is in the Hall.”

“It is an honor that I never believed would happen to me at all,” said Gaukler, plaque in hand following Thursday’s induction. “I think there’s other people that deserved it maybe more, but since it comes from fellow fishermen I appreciate it very much. I want to say thank you to them. It’s been wonderful.”

It has been eight years since anyone has been added to the N.D. Fishing Hall of Fame. Keith Witt, Garrison Area Improvement Association, says it was time to revitalize the hall and make it an important part of North Dakota’s fishing heritage.

“We needed to keep this alive for the community but, to me, it is important for the sport of fishing. Basically, everybody that fishes owes a lot to those guys who have put in a lot of hard work over the years to develop and improve the fishery in North Dakota, where ever it may be,” said Witt. “We need to recognize those that put in the hard work.”

The Fishing Hall of Fame, comprised mostly of photographs and artifacts, is located at North Country Marine in Garrison. It moved there several years ago from a small cabin located in the Garrison City Park.

Even though a new board of directors for the Hall of Fame remains in the final stages of formation, Witt is encouraged by the enthusiasm shown for the hall and for the possibilities ahead.

“Number 1 on the priority list is recognizing those sportsmen, getting them inducted in the Hall of Fame and then to look how we can develop the physical aspect of the hall,” said Witt. “We hope we can expand and improve and, hopefully, be at the forefront of fishing halls of fame in the country.”