Tom Gelb

Field Editor

Tom started fishing seriously in 1949 when he was “adopted” by one of his grade school teachers, Joe Cannon. He cut his teeth on bluegills and bass using a 7 1/2-foot South Bend bamboo fly rod. He caught his first Musky in Vilas County on opening weekend in 1952. The 35-inch “monster” hit a golden shiner cast on a Heddon Stanley weedless hook. He immediately became addicted and continued his musky hunting, guiding out of Manitowish Waters during the summers of 1954, 1955 and 1956 while attending college at Michigan Tech, where he graduated in 1957.

He moved to Milwaukee and started work at Harley-Davidson as a process engineer in 1960. He held many positions in his 37 years with the motor company including Senior Vice President of Operations, retiring in 1997. While at Harley, he received a number of awards including AMF’s Moorhead Patterson Highest Merit Award, Michigan Technological University’s Board of Control Silver Metal and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Donald Burnham Manufacturing Management award. In 1989 he was selected as the Manufacturing Executive on Business Months First Annual Management Dream Team.

Fishing took a partial back seat for Tom from 1966 to 1969 when he was consumed with motor racing. In 1968 he won the SCAA   Formula C championship in his Brabham/Ford with a perfect winning record. During this period he held lap records on four Midwest race tracks, including a class lap record at Road America that stood for a number of years. He served on a number of boards including the Board of the Michigan Tech Fund, the board of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and is presently the board chairman for the Lake Superior National Park Foundation. Tom continued his musky fishing in Vilas County through all his years with Harley. He has also fished Lake of the Woods for the past 25 years and has a long-term relationship with Lake Superior starting in the early 1950s continuing through the present. Throughout the summer he keeps a boat at the Ontonagon marina where he spends time on the Big Lake on days when the muskies are not cooperating. He now resides in Vilas County where he has concentrated on row trolling for the past 20 years. Since he retired in 1997, his blue Kuehl row boat can be seen regularly on many northern Wisconsin waters from opening weekend until the water turns hard in November.
Tom has been a field editor for Musky Hunter Magazine since its founding and a Muskies, Inc member since the late 1970s when he first started releasing muskies. His last kept fish was in 1982 until November 30, 2006 when he kept a 53×28 1/2-inch, verified 51-pound 2-ounce monster on the last day of the Wisconsin musky season.
Throughout his life his forté has been innovation. His motto, which he says works both ways is: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always got.”

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