BTT’s 2022 Circle of Honor Inductees
The Guide/Angler Honor is presented to an accomplished angler or guide who has demonstrated commitment to the BTT mission and assisted in BTT science and conservation efforts. The honoree will receive a Circle of Honor award, noting BTT’s appreciation of their service and accomplishments and the year of their induction.
By Nick Roberts, Director of Marketing & Communications / Bonefish & Tarpon Trust / March 1, 2022
Miami, FL– Bonefish & Tarpon Trust will induct Bass Pro Shops founder and CEO Johnny Morris, the late President George H.W. Bush, and the late Captain George Hommell, Jr., a pioneering fishing guide, into the organization’s Circle of Honor on April 21, 2022.
Morris, a noted conservationist and leader in the outdoor recreational industry, will receive the Lefty Kreh Award for Lifetime Achievement in Conservation, which is BTT’s highest honor. As a founding member of the organization, Morris’ support over the years has made possible important flats research, youth education programs, habitat restoration projects, and disaster relief for fishing guides and coastal communities in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian.
President George H. W. Bush will receive posthumous recognition and induction into the Circle of Honor for important environmental initiatives advanced during his presidency as well as for his flats fishing passion. Under his Administration, Bush established 56 new National Wildlife Refuges; signed the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, which has contributed to the conservation of almost 30 million acres of North American habitat; and supported key amendments to the Clean Air Act, designed to curb acid rain, urban air pollution, toxic air emissions and stratosphere ozone depletion. He was a frequent visitor to the Florida Keys, where he enjoyed fishing and participating in tournaments that benefitted flats conservation.
Hommell, a native of Haines Falls, New York, made his way after World War II and Korea to Islamorada, where he began guiding in 1952. He started fishing with President Bush in 1979 and also guided many other notable anglers, including Ted Williams and Dan Rather. He’s equally revered for his pioneering flats fishing techniques. He refined methods for poling for bonefish and developed many innovative fly patterns.
In 1967, Hommell launched World Wide Sportsman, Inc., a fly/tackle shop catering to anglers traveling to Islamorada from around the world. As a member of the Islamorada Fishing Guides Association in the 1970s, Hommell was one of the early proponents for catch-and-release fishing. He advocated for tarpon and bonefish protection and Everglades restoration through World Wide Sportsman, and was a founding member of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. In 2002, Hommell was named one of NOAA’s environmental heroes in recognition of his numerous contributions to conservation causes.
The BTT Circle of Honor recognizes legendary anglers, fishing guides and conservation leaders who have made significant contributions to the conservation of the flats fishery. It is housed in the Florida Keys History & Discovery Center, located in Islamorada, Florida, and features an annually rotating exhibit on those honored as well as educational content about the significance of the flats fishery. Past recipients of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust’s Lefty Kreh Award, Curt Gowdy Media Award, and Flats Stewardship Award are recognized in a digital archive maintained as part of the exhibit.
About Bonefish & Tarpon Trust
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust’s mission is to conserve bonefish, tarpon and permit—the species, their habitats and the larger fisheries they comprise. As a science-based organization, BTT pursues this mission across the southeastern US, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean through research, conservation, education and advocacy.
About Keys History & Discovery Center
Keys History & Discovery Center is a world-class museum that preserves and shares the incredible history of our Upper Keys community and explores the unique ecology of the region. In addition to permanent exhibits on subjects such as Henry Flagler’s Over-Sea Railway, Legends of the Line, and First People, the Discovery Center offers a lecture series, educating the public through presentations from a variety of expert speakers. The museum’s second floor features a state-of-the-art theater showing documentaries on topics like the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane and Indian Key, as well as traveling exhibits, and the Jerry Wilkinson Research Library. The center, on the property of the Islander Resort, is open Wednesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
About Florida Keys History and Discovery Foundation
Florida Keys History and Discovery Foundation formed in 2013 to develop and operate Keys History & Discovery Center. The not-for-profit organization’s board of directors is comprised of community-minded volunteers with a passion for the mission of preserving and sharing the unique history and environment of the Florida Keys, particularly that of the Upper Keys. More information can be found at www.keysdiscovery.com or by calling 305-922-2237.
Nick Roberts, Director of Marketing & Communications