The Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum is located on 7 acres of land at 10360 Hall of Fame Drive in Hayward, Wisconsin. Even if you are not a huge fan of fishing, this place is a must see.
The museum was founded by Bob Kutz and gets about 100,000 visitors a year. According to the dedication plaque hanging on the building he wanted to start the museum to honor and immortalize the sport of fresh water fishing. The museum is a non-profit organization.
You may think that the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame is just a place where World records are kept for fish that have been caught. There is a record book that has world record fish as well as line-class records for all fresh water species in North America, but there is also more than that to the museum.
The absolute highlight of the museum is the “Shrine to Anglers.” This is a musky replica that is one half city block long and four and a half stories tall, it is compared to the length of a Boeing 757 plane. It is the World’s largest fish that is supposed to look as if it is leaping out of the water. It is simply amazing and is made out of concrete, steel and fiberglass. Next to the fish is an 88,000 pond.
As you enter through stairs that lead up into the tail and inside the fish, you are walking past thousands of names on the walls that are the Hall’s charter members. There is also a memorial to Herman the worm that is very cute.
The coolest part is when you get up to the jaws of the fish, which you have to take quite a few stairs to get here but it is well worth it in the end. Here there is an observation platform that holds about 20 people. From here you get an amazing panoramic view of Lake Hayward, the city and the museum grounds.
The adjacent four-building museum to the giant fish is has many artifacts and items on display for everyone to enjoy. They display over 50,000 vintage lures, rods, reels, and angling accessories like scales and tackle boxes. It was fun to take a look at the style of all the older equipment. There are also 1,000 vintage outboard motors some that dated all the way back to 1909 in the Motor Graveyard exhibit.
Hanging on the walls of the museum are about 300 mounted fresh water fish of all different sizes. Some of them are put in poses to look as if an action scene is going on like eating another fish, trying to bite a worm, or hiding in the weeds. On the Hall’s collection of World record fish you can see fish like a 22 pound walleye, 69 pound musky, and a 46 pound northern pike.
The museum also offers an ice spearing exhibit, a showcase of minnow buckets, and old pictures of local fisherman. In one of the rooms there were 2 big hairy Bigfoot Dummies. One was tagged “The Primitive fisherman,” and the other one was tagged “The Primitive Fisherman’s son.” I thought that was funny.
As you walk through the outside grounds of the museum you will notice that it is very beautiful and maintained very well. Colorful flowers line the pathways, 2 person benches are situated throughout for guests to sit back and relax, and a sculpture garden that has fiberglass replicas of walleyes, crappies, perch, rainbow trout and more.
Overall the grounds were very picturesque and well maintained. The museum was full of lots of fun and interesting fishing antiques. Like I said whether you enjoy fishing or not, I think that you would really enjoy seeing this place. If you don’t want to go into the museum at least go to see the giant musky. You won’t regret the trip!