The soap opera “Guiding Light” aired on CBS from 1952 until 2009.

A Guinness World Record holder for longest-running TV drama, it’s also one of few things known for “guiding” longer than Ted Peck.

And the show might only have a few more stories to tell than the long-time fishing guide, outdoorsman and outdoors columnist for The Gazette.

Peck’s 44 years of guiding clients on lakes, and relating his experiences on the water and on land during various hunting seasons for 47 years—with a never-miss Sunday column in The Gazette sports section since 1990—has earned Peck an honor that humbled even the down-to-earth outdoors enthusiast.

The 68-year-old Peck will be inducted into the national Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame—as a guide, but he also qualified as a writer—in an induction ceremony Jan. 18, 2020, at the Northern Illinois Sports Show in Grayslake, Illinois.

“It’s humbling,” Peck said in a phone interview. “When you consider all the tens of millions people who fish and only 450 are in the hall of fame.”

Peck pointed out other members of the hall, including: Isaac Walton, an English author in the 1600s who wrote “The Compleat Angler”; the late Hall of Fame baseball player and outdoorsman Ted Williams; and the late Curt Gowdy, a renowned play-by-play announcer for NBC who also was a host of the show “The American Sportsman.”

“These guys are legendary,” Peck said. “What the hell am I doing in here? It’s pretty heady stuff.”

He belongs there. He has made the outdoors a major part of his life since he was youngster, when he threw a line in tiny Waukarusa Creek in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, looking to catch carp and bullheads.

He and his wife, Candy—she has put up with Ted’s boats, guns, rods, lures, shells, etc. for 48 years—raised two daughters.

The youngest, Emily, got the ball rolling for Ted’s induction.

During a tour of the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, which is located in Hayward, Emily wondered aloud why her dad’s friends, Spence Petros and Babe Winkelman, were in the hall but he wasn’t.

The girl obviously has her father’s personality.

Ted explained that you had to be nominated.

Emily went to work. She contacted her older sister, Jessica, and the two put together a nomination letter.

Meanwhile, Peck was working with a production company on a documentary for Netflix on the crisis the Mississippi River faces. On the final day of work on the documentary—which will be released between Thanksgiving and Christmas—Ted went home to celebrate his 48th wedding anniversary with Candy.

The phone rang. It was Peck’s long-time friend, Jesse Simpkins, informing him of his induction into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame.

“Talk about a trifecta of joy,” Peck says of that early August day.

Unfortunately, the Mississippi, specifically Pool Nine, which has been Peck’s base of operations for the past 20 years, was hit hard by excessive rain this summer. The high water, and the silt affiliated with it, affected fishing and guiding on the massive river.

Peck is concerned.

“It’s a tragedy,” he says. “The Mississippi is silting in. It’s a disaster.

“It’s not just me. It’s restaurants and motels. And it’s not getting adequate coverage.”

Peck has written columns about the situation. His hall of fame induction gives him more firepower.

“I see this as a platform to get the word out about the dying Mississippi, on the resources in the state of Wisconsin and what we need to do to preserve it and protect it.

“That’s my mission now.”

That, along with guiding, fishing and hunting, is something that he has done for decades.

“I’m usually fishing or hunting five days a week,” Peck said. “It’s been that way for the past 50 years.”

Much like “Guiding Light,” Peck has stood the test of time.

Tom Miller is a sports writer/page designer for The Gazette. Reach him at tmiller@gazettextra.com.

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