Most notable outdoors experts are stereotyped by a single category, such as fishing or hunting. Tommy Skarlis breaks the mold - he’s a touring walleye and crappie fishing professional who enjoys hooking panfish through the ice, bass in the backwaters or walleyes on the massive Great Lakes as well as a promotional hunter that pursues most species of North American upland game, waterfowl and Big Game. His charismatic and acute ability to share this multi-species knowledge with others makes Skarlis even more significant to the outdoor world.
An Iowa native, Skarlis began fishing at age 3. He honed his fishing skills on the Mississippi River, along with the small lakes, farm ponds, and expansive reservoirs throughout the Midwest. Skarlis’ knack for stalking Walleyes turned into a tournament-fishing career in 1991. From 1993 to 1998 he fished the Masters Walleye Circuit (MWC), and along the way earned Team of the Year honors. In additional to qualifying for the Championship eight-out-of-eight times, Skarlis also won the MWC Big Stone Lake Title.
In 1996, Skarlis joined In-Fisherman’s Professional Walleye Trail (PWT). He has since thundered through the circuit, winning the prestigious “PWT Angler of the Year” title in 2004, snatching 17 top-ten finishes, capturing several “Big Fish” Awards, and qualifying for the PWT Championship thirteen straight times.
Skarlis earned the nicknames “Mr. Erie” and “Mr. April” by winning the first PWT event of both 2001 at the Detroit River, and in 2002 at Lake Erie. In fact, his total weight of 138.28 pounds for 15 fish at the 2002 Lake Erie Event set an all-time world-record for total tournament weight in a professional event. In July of 2003 he became part of an elite group by winning his 3rd PWT event, held on Lake Erie in Dunkirk, NY and in April of 2004, he won his Fourth PWT event in as many years – setting numerous records in the PWT.
And in 2008, he won the most prestigious title in walleye fishing – the FLW Walleye Tour Championship. Skarlis also won the first AIM Pro Walleye Tour Event in 2009 as well as the FLW Walleye tour Red Wing event in 2012. To top it off in 2013, Tommy Skarlis (along with fishing partner Kyle Steinfeldt) won the most prestigious title in crappie fishing – the Crappie Masters National Championship in Grenada Mississippi! All totaled, Skarlis has qualified for 40 national championships, is one of the hottest tourney sticks in the history of competitive fishing and was named one of the Top Ten Anglers on the Planet by Outdoor Life.