Veteran. Outdoorsman. Family man. Dreamer.
These are just a few words that can be used to describe Theopolis Toliver. I am not sure I have met a person that is more at home in the outdoors in such a short time. Which, by the way, wasn’t easily achieved. Mr. Toliver was born and bred in Las Vegas, Nevada. Growing up there, he didn’t have a lot of opportunities to do much in the way of outdoor activities, aside from fishing. His father made sure that was something he would be exposed to though. As early as 4 years old, his father began taking him to local parks to fish the ponds, and even to Lake Mead, just a bit outside the city. Twice a year, they traveled to Southern Utah to visit the cabin of a family friend, absorbing as much outdoor life as possible. Soon though, Theo grew up, and as a young man of 18, he enlisted in the Air Force. His first duty station happened to be in Minot, North Dakota, which will be an important, and rather interesting fact later in this article.
Being in the military, Mr. Toliver was able to experience new things. He went to Korea for a bit after Minot, but didn’t get a lot of opportunities to fish or explore. From Korea, he ended up at Nellis Air Force Base, not far from home. While it was nice to be close to home, after a few years, he found Minot, ND calling him back. So, in 2010, that’s where he ended up. As of 2014, Theo went from active duty, to Air National Guard, where he still is today. After retiring from active duty, he went to work for the railroad. Theo also has four children, two boys and two girls, ranging from 10-16 years of age. They don’t all take after him with a love of the outdoors, but his oldest has definitely caught the fishing bug.
As mentioned earlier, Mr. Toliver ended up back in Minot, North Dakota, which isn’t exactly known for its diversity. What it did have to offer though, was the opportunity to expand his outdoor horizons. North Dakota provided him with an avenue to start hunting. Here, he began hunting deer, when the lottery system works in his favor, but loves to hunt pheasant and turkey. He is also experienced with a bow, but prefers to sit that season out, as he would much rather fish during that time. And, as it turns out, he’s pretty good at it.
In fact, after his first experience with becoming prostaff for Kamooki Lures and The Outfitters, he has essentially blown up. Kamooki contacted him after seeing photos from an ice fishing trip where he caught a really nice walleye. After the picture circulated a bit, The Outfitters had to have him on their team. Since then, he has added a few other prostaff opportunities to his belt, as well as content contribution for Fish Addictions TV. Theo has even been on Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Wisconsin, showing off his ice fishing know-how. He hopes to make a career out of fishing, and with a resume like this in just a few short years, we at BAO think he may be there soon. So far, he’s got an amazing start with his social media platforms and YouTube channel. Although YouTube takes considerably more effort, his new boat, as well as the upcoming ice fishing season will provide a consistency that promises to generate many more views and subscribers.
There is a double edged sword to having an online presence though, one that can be especially uncomfortable as a minority in a predominantly white industry. Mr. Toliver says he hasn’t experienced a lot of adversity in person though. Sadly, he experienced it more back home and with online dating than he has in Minot, or in the fishing industry. Though, the online dating part was short lived, as he has officially “hooked” a woman who is just as in love with fishing as he is. This is another interesting twist to the Minot story. Theo actually met his fiance the first time he lived in Minot back in 2001, when they had dated once before. After moving back in 2014, their paths crossed once again, and it seemed like the love story was meant to continue. They spend a lot of time together, on the water and off, adding new experiences to their story every day.
As for the fishing industry, the more experience Theo gained, the more he began to see other black anglers and outdoorsmen. He added that it was important to know there were other minority outdoorsmen out there. Being a part of BAO has definitely opened his eyes to so much more. Though, he did find it to be a culture shock moving to ND as a minority, he never really felt singled out. Even at fishing tournaments, everyone was really nice and welcoming, and his race was never an issue, especially in the ice fishing world.
Theo’s love for fishing has taken him a lot of interesting places, but he has yet to hit the salt water, in search of a deep sea marlin. While that may his dream trip, he has made the northern US and Canada his favorite places to return to. As an avid ice fisherman, the north provides a steady set of resources for him to explore. He would especially love to go back up to Canada and land a trophy lake trout. Something tells me it won’t be long until he can check both of his bucket list, especially with the amazing prostaff opportunities he’s been given. Theo, I think it’s time to product test some warm salt water lures!
While, much to my encouragement, Mr. Toliver has no immediate plans of operating his own guide service, he says that someday he would love to, but feels he still has a lot to learn before then. When asked what advice he could give others who may be in his shoes, he said, “Don’t be afraid to do things. You are going to fail, but don’t be afraid of that failure. Just go for it!”