Kokomo’s Parton inducted into IBF Hall of Fame
By: John Martino
As far as Howard and surrounding counties are concerned, for the past 40 years one name stands out in the world of competitive bass fishing. Marvin Parton. His many successes were recognized last Saturday in Indianapolis when he was inducted into the Indiana Bass Federation Hall of Fame.
“It was a shock and an unbelievable honor,” said the Kokomo resident, as he stood with a large contingent of family and friends at the awards ceremony.
Parton began his exploits in competitive bass fishing in the mid 1970’s when he competed in state tournament trails sponsored by Red Man, Operation Bass and the American Bass Federation. Then, in 1974, the Indiana Bass Federation came into existence. Shortly after, Parton began taking part in their events and never looked back. “The IBF was family friendly with many of the wives and children showing up for the weigh-ins and I liked that,” he said.
For the next 36 years Parton was a staple at the tournaments, only missing four events in that entire time frame. He racked up win after win and set some records that still stand to this day. During that time he won six invitational tournaments and was crowned Angler of The Year in 1987. He is the only person to win three IBF Classic events which is only open to those who amass the most points during the regular tournament season. His winnings for these competitions were three new Ranger boats, something most anglers only dream of.
But his successes did not come easy. “I never had the God given talent like some of our best anglers,” Parton explained. He made up for that by continually practicing in honing his craft. “There would be many times I would be gone for three or four weekends a month practicing and pre-fishing,” he continued. “And I owe my successes to my wife Patty. She not only supported me but also encouraged me and for that I will always be thankful.”
It is no secret fishing competitively can at times be cut-throat. But one of Parton’s favorite stories isn’t about his success like you would expect, it was about helping someone else.
IBF tournaments consist of two anglers per boat. One is designated as a co-angler and fishes with the owner of the craft.
One year Parton knew he did not earn enough points to take part in the end of the season Classic, but his co-angler had a chance to earn a berth in the season finale. Instead of fishing, Parton never picked up a rod, he made the decision to strictly run the trolling motor for his co-angler, who could only fish from the back deck. “I did not want to take a chance catching a fish that he could have caught,” said Parton. Needless to say, Parton’s co-angler ended up winning the event. Through the years Parton has actually helped other anglers sharing his boat win their respective tournaments. It is this type of respect for others that sets him apart. But that’s just the way Parton and people like him roll.
To date only 17 individuals have received induction into the IBF Hall of Fame. Other honorees include major sponsors, tournament directors and longtime officials. Parton earned his distinction by strictly fishing. “I am just a player in the game,” he added with a smile. “But I can’t thank those others enough for giving me such a great place to play.”
“Marvin is a great fisherman,” said Phil Reel, another respected tournament angler. “He is meticulous and retains knowledge exceptionally well,” he continued. “I have seen him literally fish a short section of bank for hours picking every piece of structure apart.”
Roby Ahnert, another successful and respected tournament angler shared Reel’s sentiments. “He’s very methodical and takes everything in stride,” he added. “I have never seen him get mad or upset. He’s someone I have been fortunate to know.”
So what advice do you have for other anglers who have an interest in fishing competitively? I had to ask Parton. “Practice,” he said emphatically. “To become good at anything you have to practice and nothing can beat time spent on the water.”
Congratulations go to Parton for his on the water accomplishments and for nicely representing our area’s anglers.