Remembering Guido - Major League Fishing

Remembering Guido

The industry pays tribute to a bass fishing legend
Image for Remembering Guido
Guido and Stella Hibdon Photo by Rob Newell. Angler: Guido Hibdon.
March 13, 2018 • MLF • Fishing League Worldwide

Guido Hibdon, who passed away on March 10 at the age of 71, was a star in the tournament world before many of today’s top pros were born. Among his many achievements, the Missouri native won the Bassmaster Classic in 1988.

Hibdon was inducted into The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2002 along with Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, lure maker Cotton Cordell, longtime Bassmaster magazine editor and TV show producer Bob Cobb, and fellow pros Denny Brauer and Jimmy Houston.

Guido’s wife, Stella, has asked that anyone interested send her a one- to three-paragraph note recalling a favorite memory of Guido to be assembled into a memory book for his family. If interested, please mail to Stella Hibdon, PO Box 56, Stover, MO 65078. More information on the project is available here.

FLW also asked members of the industry to share their favorite recollections or thoughts about Guido’s life, career and influence:

Stella told me that Guido had his eyes closed there in the hospital room for three days up until the day he died. Saturday morning his family was in the room, and all of a sudden he opened his eyes and looked at them one by one. Then he closed his eyes for good.

I would describe Guido as just a down-to-earth country boy who was never a braggart even though he had a lot to brag about. He was a humble man who made friends easily because he was genuinely friendly. Guido raised some good kids and had a devoted wife who stood by his side through thick and thin. I guess you might say that he had all the skills and determination to be successful in fishing, but probably Guido would have been successful at anything he tried his hand at. – Forrest L. Wood

Guido’s contributions to the sport are too numerous to count. He was in the room when the concept of the FLW Tour was first discussed. He played a hand in the Tour’s formation and was an influential figure on the Tour after it became reality. One of my favorite memories is accompanying Guido to an inner-city school in Harford, Conn., during the Forrest Wood Open on the Connecticut River in June 1998. The school was on lockdown, and we strolled in to talk fishing with some trouble youths. As you can imagine, we got some looks, but Guido addressed the skeptical students in the only way he knew how and won them over. He had a knack for delivering fatherly advice that resonated with the recipient no matter their background. More than one aspiring pro received guidance from Guido over the years, and every one of them was better off for it. He was always looking out for the future of our sport. He was always looking out for the next generation. Every serious bass angler, whether they realize it or not, was in some way influenced by Guido Hibdon. He will be missed. – Kathy Fennel, FLW president of operations

Guido and I both were on the Evinrude pro-staff for years, and one thing I always admired about him was that he told it like it was; he wasn’t shy and didn’t try to whitewash anything or come across as a “yes” man. I thought that was a tremendous asset for a company that wanted more out of a pro-staff than just somebody who agreed with everything for the sake of getting along. He wasn’t afraid to say anything to anybody – even at seminars with the public – and had that dry sense of humor that everybody loved.

You talk about somebody who knew the business side of fishing, it was him. He was a natural. He also was an outdoorsman in every sense of the word – fishing, trapping, hunting, whatever. He was a unique individual who went his own way, and that’s something you don’t see much of nowadays. – Denny Brauer, professional angler

One thing about Guido, he never changed. He was always the same happy-go-lucky guy, and there was no put-on about him at all. I really enjoyed being in the company of him and Stella.

A few years ago, at the Children’s Miracle Network benefit tournament that always took place the day after the FLW Tour event there on Beaver Lake, I got to fish with Guido. We went out and did our own things and, as usual, we fussed at each other all day.

At the weigh-in, the emcee asked me how it felt fishing with a legend.

I asked the emcee, “Did you ever have a grumpy grandfather? Well, I just spent the day fishing with my grumpy grandfather.” Guido got a kick out of that. Of course, we had a great time. Guido was fun to be with, and very loyal to anyone fortunate enough to be his friend – and he had a lot of them. – Bobby Dennis, vice president of business development for TNO Fishing, formerly Luck-E-Strike

As a fisherman, Guido wasn’t a one-trick pony that won all the tournaments he did only because he was so great with a Gitzit or a Guido Bug. He was a great one because he was very versatile and could do a lot of things well. He won tournaments flipping, cranking, sight-fishing – whatever. The last event I remember him winning was at Eufaula on a square-bill. A square-bill! I thought, wow, look at Guido showing out on a square-bill; I didn’t even know he owned one.

He was definitely a winner in fishing and in life. He had a weakness for kids and newcomers, and any chance he could he would give them some tip that would help them catch fish. I know he taught me a lot about fishing. Guido always had a smile on his face come what may and was just an awesome human being. – Larry Nixon, FLW Tour pro

I met Guido many decades ago in the 1980s at a Federation event at Lake of the Ozarks. He just came to the weigh-in like many other local anglers from the community, not because he had already established himself as a top pro back then and was there to shake hands, sign autographs or rep for a company, but because he loved to fish, hunt and spend time in the outdoors. There was a weigh-in on his home lake, and he figured why not go watch it? That is how he was.

Tags like “legend” and many more came to be associated with his name, and rightly so; he earned them. There is no arguing the positive impacts nor the indelible mark that Guido Hibdon has left on our sport, but I would argue that it is not just because of his ability to catch a fish but because of who he was as a person that earned him those honors. There are a lot of so-called “professional” sports people in a lot of different sports that could certainly learn a thing or two from Guido Hibdon about how to be a pro. – Robert Cartlidge, The Bass Federation president and CEO

In the age of social media, where “likes” and “views” contribute immensely, if not entirely, to one’s perceived station in life, the title “legend” has lost some of its gravitas. Personalities can rocket from obscurity to “legendary” status overnight. There are a select few, however, for whom the title still holds its original esteem. Esteem that is rightfully reserved for the old guard. For men that became legends the hard way. Men like Guido Hibdon. Guido is as much a legend for his many trailblazing accomplishments on the water as he is for the legacy he leaves behind in his son, Dion; grandsons, Payden, Lawson and Conner; and wife, Stella, all accomplished anglers in their own right. Guido was one of a kind. He is a legend in the purest sense of the word. – Dave Washburn, FLW vice president of operations

We lost another great one in Guido, but he left behind quite a legacy; the best part of it being his family. Like a lot of others, I’ve got some wonderful memories of him, including how he came to rename me “Jeremy.” Years ago we were at a weigh-in and another fisherman – a new guy who apparently couldn’t read very well – drew Guido as a partner for the next day. He came up to me and asked me if I could point out “Gudio Hibidon” because he didn’t know who it was. Of course, I knew who he was talking about, and I spotted Guido several feet away and hollered out, “Hey, Gudio.” Without batting an eye, Guido turned around and yelled, “Yeah, Jeremy, what can I do for you?” From then on, he called me Jeremy, and I called him Gudio. What a fisherman and friend he was – I’ll sure miss him. – Jimmy Houston, FLW Tour pro

Guido was one of the early pros who perfected sight-fishing. I asked him how he really figured it out so well. His reply was he used live crawfish, which he put in the beds. He then designed the Guido Bug to match the crawfish in the spawning bass’ bed. His eye for detail was amazing, which is part of what made him one of the best of all time. – Bill Taylor, FLW senior director of tournament operations

Guido, Stella and all of the Hibdons hold a very special place in my heart, as they do for everyone that’s a part of the Ranger Boats family. When we first met, I’ll admit being pretty intimidated by Guido. He didn’t beat around the bush and wasn’t afraid of telling you what he thought! But I realized pretty quickly he had a huge heart and, under the gruff exterior, was a big teddy bear. Most of my favorite memories involved him giving me a big bear hug when we ran into each other. He and Dion have always gone above and beyond to help represent Ranger and the sport of fishing. Heaven just got a keeper. – Kim Ott, Ranger Boats pro-staff manager

I can remember many times over the years working for FLW that we would be at tournaments, and we would have anglers that would … how can I say this nicely … be unruly and question things from time to time. Most of the time when Guido was there I didn’t have to worry about that because he would take them out back and talk to them and straighten them out. Guido was a big protector of the sport of fishing and a big promoter of it. He was a big fan of FLW and Ranger Boats, and, of course, Forrest Wood. It was almost like having another employee out there when Guido was around. – Charlie Evans, FLW Tour pro and former president/CEO of FLW

We first met Guido and the Hibdon family at Lake Okeechobee in 2004. That was our very first tourney season in the U.S. when Shin was a rookie. We were staying in a conversion van at the same campground as they were with a motorhome. As many of you know, we couldn’t speak English at all then, but the family took the fence and greeted us with smiles. Guido said they welcomed us since the Japanese were very kind to them when they went to Japan and fished back in 1990s.

Soon after we met them, we felt like we were part of their family. We actually traveled together with them from lake to lake for years, and they took care of us just like their kids.

Although we had less conversation due to the language barrier, we fished together, laughed a lot with his sense of humor and learned so many things from his behavior. Guido’s kindness, teaching and passion for fishing definitely touched us very much.

This is the most memorable lesson taught to us by Guido: “Remember, you’ll never be satisfied, and you want to keep the passion for fishing (or whatever you love to do) in your mind. If you are satisfied, it is time to quit or retire.” The words influence Shin today on how he keeps his motivation to make a living with fishing, and we’ll never forget what Guido has done for us.

Thank you, our mentor, dad in America and best friend, Guido Hibdon. Rest in peace, and fish on in heaven. With much love and respect. – Shin and Miyu Fukae, professional bass fishing family

I never got to fish with Guido, but I was around him forever. When I was 18, I won a Federation state championship. It was the first big tournament I ever won, and what made it more special is that Guido was the emcee at the weigh-in. Later, he asked me if I was interested in pursuing a career in fishing and encouraged me to do just that. He thought I had promise, and he became my biggest cheerleader. Back when I first got to know him, I didn’t realize how important it was to have a mentor, but, looking back, that’s what we all need: somebody to encourage you and have faith in you. Promoting the sport, recruiting new fishermen, opening doors – that was Guido Hibdon to me. – Marcus Sykora, 2014 BFL All-American champion

As long as I live I’ll never forget the time that Guido was walking out to his boat at the hotel where we were both staying. I met him as I was going back to my room. I said hi, and he stopped, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Let me tell you something, Mark Rose. You’re one of the finest fishermen to ever pick up a rod and reel … and a damn good young man.” 

That was Guido’s way of giving his stamp of approval. I said thanks and remember walking away with an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction and joy. Other than being one of the best ever in our sport, Guido had the gift of encouragement. He loved everyone who dedicated their life to this sport. I’ll miss him. – Mark Rose, FLW Tour pro

I had the pleasure of working with Guido for just over 15 years. Guido was a consummate professional and a true gentleman. He had a bold presence, but a soft side. He had a work ethic and commitment to the sport unlike many bass pros of today. I could schedule Guido for an event, and he would always arrive well before the event started and stay far after the event concluded. He had a sense of awareness of everyone around him. He never left an autograph unsigned or a fishing tip untold. He loved speaking to people about his profession, provided fishing tips, and he wanted everyone to take away something that they could use to improve their fishing abilities. 

I learned early on that Guido was a man of few words, but when he spoke, I listened. Guido loved his trade, and it showed. He was an extremely devoted family man. Above all, his family always came first. I remember the year that Guido’s grandson, Payden Hibdon, started fishing the FLW Tour. Guido was so proud to have three generations of the Hibdon family fishing professionally. I don’t think our industry has seen three generations competing together on a high level before, and I’m not sure if we ever will again. 

One of Guido’s favorite artists was Rod Stewart. I believe Guido is powering down Lake of the Ozarks at 70 mph listing to Rod Stewart! – Krista Heidgerken, marine industry professional

I met Guido on a spring day in 1980, when I was just a cub reporter at The Kansas City Star. I traveled to Lake of the Ozarks to cover a B.A.S.S. national tournament, and Guido burst onto the national scene in unexpected fashion.

The story practically wrote itself. Guido was a longtime guide at the big lake, and some of his clients urged him to enter the national tournament to see how he would stack up against the pros. They even offered to pay his entry fee.

He took them up on their challenge and ended up winning. After the tournament, he told of how he had used a plastic crawdad that his son, Dion, had designed as part of a school project. I immediately became intrigued by this likable Ozarks fisherman. And so began a long friendship.

The last time I saw him was two years ago when he attended the Missouri Classic fish and golf championship, in which Dion and Payden were entered. We talked, and as I was walking away, he shouted to me, “Hey, Frazee, we’re going fishing this spring.”

That trip never happened. Guido became sick, and his fishing days were numbered.

Now he is gone. Man, how I will miss him. – Brent Frazee, retired outdoors editor for The Kansas City Star

I got to know Guido in the old days when we were all just sort of starting out. He was kind of quiet at first, but then once he got to know you he would act like he’d known you forever and joke and cut up. Of course, Guido was a terrific fisherman, but the thing about him that I admired the most was that he was such a devoted family man. I fished tournaments for over 30 years, and I can’t think of one where Guido wasn’t surrounded by his wife, Stella, and his kids, and later on, his grandkids. If you saw one Hibdon, you saw them all. They were very close-knit, and Guido looked after them. It was a wonderful thing, and that’s what I remember the most – that he was such a great guy and a good example of somebody devoted to his family. – George Cochran, retired FLW Tour pro

Over the years I had opportunities to go to some of the fishing seminars Guido did, and the thing that sticks out most in my mind is he was always tireless in giving of his time and his efforts to keep new people coming into the sport, especially young people. When he got up to give his seminars and had his rods and reels, you could tell they were used on a regular basis because they looked worn. Everybody else was trying to sell something. He just wanted to help people. Guido was meticulous with his rigging and the details of the techniques he used, and that’s the way he was with people. He would always spend extra time, whether it was in a parking lot, at a weigh-in, at a seminar, at a boat show, because he never grew tired of teaching somebody something he knew.

There were many times I heard him telling people about FLW and everything we were doing. It was always his goal to bring people in. And I’ve run a lot of Ozark tournaments, and never once have I had a weigh-in when people didn’t get up on stage and thank the Hibdon family. Guido was the patriarch of that family, but that was just it: The entire family promoted fishing, and Guido taught them all how to do it. Likewise, I don’t know of anybody in national competition that started tournament sight-fishing better than him. Back then, if you learned to sight-fish, you either learned it from him or somebody he taught.

He meant a lot to me. He was kind of the Daniel Boone of bass fishing to me. He wasn’t as vocal as some of the others we all know, but he impacted more people than we’ll ever know. – Ron Lappin, FLW Series director of tournament operations