RIP: Kim 'Chief' Papineau

Chief was a giant in the fishing world whose impact will be felt for generations to come.

Last week we lost a legend in the walleye fishing world. Kim "Chief" Papineau, 65, of Escanaba, Michigan passed away Wednesday afternoon, March 9, 2016.

Chief was known to many as a mentor and champion of angling that helped put the Bays de Noc on the map in the fishing world. Among his many awards was the 2001 Storm Angler of the Year, PWT Sharp Angler and Big Fish awards, 2005 Masters Walleye Circuit Team of the Year and 2005 MWC Central Division Champion.  He was an 8-time championship qualifier in the PWT and MWC with 20 top ten finishes. His singular character and integrity earned him the respect of anglers across both circuits, not to mention countless anglers he inspired over the years through TV appearances and articles.

I was lucky enough to be in Chief's boat one year while I was producing for the MWC TV show, and even though I wasn't aware of his immense status, I could clearly tell he was a sort of quiet leader in the field who shared information freely. I was immediately comfortable in his presence and found his air of confidence was unmistakable.

Often times tournament anglers are reticent to share secrets or techniques for fear of spreading their tactics to their competition. Chief believed anyone who wanted to learn to fish better was worthy of advice and guidance, and that tougher competition only made everyone fish harder and better. 

Chief's articles are a testament to how well he shared information. He offers up every detail of how he's catching them and when. His favorite water was Little Bay de Noc and he loved to troll for big fish and show others how to catch their own. He often gave anglers lures that many will treasure for a lifetime.

One of his hallmarks was patience. It is a discipline that is essential to success in tournament fishing, and one of the reasons he is known as one of the 'grandfathers' of walleye tournaments. It was no surprise when he won the Cool Under Pressure Award one year. Respect for his patience was easy to hear among anglers he fished against.  Though usually they felt they were fishing with Chief rather than against him. He was a crowd favorite.

Another principle he believed in was being an explorer and finding your own bite as opposed to following the crowd. Tournament and casual anglers alike often fall prey to this tactic, and honestly, it his usually a sensible place to start on a new body of water. Chief believed in reading the signs mother nature provides and using your skills to find fish the hard way, and knowing you earned those fish.

In short, Chief was a giant in the fishing world whose impact will be felt for generations to come. He will be greatly missed and never forgotten. Tight lines and calm waters to you, Chief.       -Phred Nelson

North American Fisherman Top Stories