Fishing Legend Tom Mann Dies

John Trussell | March 19, 2005

William Thomas “Tom” Mann, 72, a legendary tournament fisherman, lure-maker, and television personality, passed away in Birmingham on Friday, February 11, 2005 from complications from his second heart surgery.

Tom Mann started Mann’s bait company in 1958 with $5, and later he became one of the most popular personalities in the fishing industry. He won fame with the Mann’s Jelly Worm and the Little George — a tailspinner named after then Alabama governor George Wallace. His business grew into a million-dollar company by the time it was sold in 1979. A two-time B.A.S.S. tournament winner, Tom was a top tournament angler until he retired in 1984. He was inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2003.

Tom Mann’s Fish World on U.S. Highway 431 near Lake Eufaula was a popular tourist attraction until it closed in 2003. Tom also entertained us all through his fishing shows, mostly recently Tom and Tina Outdoors. His 2002 autobiography, which happens to have the best book cover design I’ve seen in a while, “Think Like a Fish,” told of his humble beginnings, his interesting life, and his strange encounters. Tom was struck by lightning — twice. He was bitten by a rattlesnake, an alligator and a rabid fox, and he survived car accidents. Tom Mann seemed invincible.

Tom Mann (left) with the author in 1988 at Tom’s Eufaula office, surrounded by Indian relics. Tom was part Cherokee, and his company’s Indian chief logo helped make him a legend.

As a small-town writer, I interviewed Tom in 1988 in his Eufaula office. He showed off his lure-research lab, and he spoke warmly of his summer fishing camp for local youth. He always tried to give back to others.

Tom Mann is survived by his wife, three daughters and a son, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Become a GON subscriber and enjoy full access to ALL of our content.

New monthly payment option available!


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.