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Remembering Ron Lindner

Past and present In-Fisherman staff recall Ron Lindner's influence

Remembering Ron Lindner

Last week, the fishing world was wracked by the news of Ron Lindner's passing. He was a character on so many levels and his impact on the sport will be everlasting. It'd be virtually impossible for one person to sum up all of Lindner's achievements and innovations while also capturing the essence of who he was. As the In-Fisherman family continues to mourn the passing of one of its co-founders, we sought out remembrances of Ron from those who knew him well, fished with him often or plainly admired his work.

Doug Stange, In-Fisherman Editor In Chief

Throughout my years at In-Fisherman, beginning even before I joined the staff in 1981, I knew Ron Lindner as a mentor and friend—and, once on staff, as the magazine publisher that I worked closely with in my capacity as editor. There were the inevitable trials and tribulations along the way, but mostly it was a glorious period of discovery, doing pioneering work, creating magazines with breakthrough material that so many anglers craved.

In his role as publisher, he was a marketing dynamo to the core. It was Ron who taught me, “If you want someone to remember what you tell them, you tell them, and then you tell them you told them, and then you tell them you told them again and again.”

He was not without idiosyncrasies. On my first long-haul trip with him to fish Lake Erie in 1981, he announced he was quitting smoking about 20 minutes into the trip, tossing his cigarettes out the window. That was followed within the hour, as he fidgeted in the seat next to me, by a truck-stop visit where he purchased a pound of candy and a half-dozen pizza slices, one of which he used as a bookmark to keep track of where he was at in one of the three books he was reading at the same time. That night before bed in our motel room I found him still reading and smoking a cigarette in the bathroom with the fan on. He had stepped out to make a purchase and taken up smoking again.

Doug Stange

There were many acts of kindness along the way. When my parents were almost killed in a car-truck accident, by the time I had made the 5-hour trip to see them the next day, there were already flowers and best wishes for recovery in each of their hospital rooms.

So many stories. Mostly, I’m thankful to be part of an organization that has been ahead of the times, with good people, doing good work, changing lives one magazine, one article, one TV show, one video, one book, one fishing trip at a time. Ron Lindner was a pioneering visionary and redoubtable force in the fishing world we all love.

Matt Straw, former In-Fisherman Staff Editor, now Field Editor

One memorable trip with Ron was to Selwyn Lake in the Northwest Territories. It was at the time home to a new lodge, and the owner, Gord Wallace, asked us to explore the lake with his guides, to search out the best spots. We used the opportunity to film several television shows.

While filming a segment on vertical jigging for lakers, I was doing a sound bite with Ron's son James when we heard Ron make a deep, guttural proclamation in his famous Chicago accent: “Dere she is!" followed by a resounding "crack." Sounded like a gunshot. A 30-pound laker had followed his jig 70 feet up and snarfed it on the surface—right under Ron's rod tip. We turned to see half of Ron's broken rod disappearing into the depths in pursuit of a massive gray trout—which Ron eventually brought to net with half a rod.

Matt Straw

We are all sorry to hear of Ron's passing. He wasn't just a great fisherman and thinker. He was a friend, a mentor, and a giant in our industry—the guy who invented the Lindy Rig, the co-founder of In-Fisherman with brother Al, a force behind the origin of walleye tournaments, a Hall of Famer, and an incessant innovator.

Ron, as much as anyone, brought science to the pursuit of angling. We all owe Ron our gratitude for helping to start what became the work of our lives. He will be sorely missed.

Steve Quinn, former In-Fisherman Editor, now Field Editor

As an early subscriber to In-Fisherman, I was eager to move from my job as fishery biologist in Georgia to the position of editor at the magazine when the opportunity arose in May of 1988. Doug Stange arranged my trip and interview, and I had great chats with him and Al about plans for growing In-Fisherman media. Ron was on a trip at the time, so I wouldn’t get to know him until later.

Steve Quinn

In my early months on the job, Al was very outgoing, always popping in to see how I was doing. Ron was generally out of sight, working intently on some project, making his presence felt when he’d yell down the hall for help from an assistant or his daughter Dawn.


But in the late fall of that year, he rushed in and told me that we were going fishing; my article could wait. Over the next several years, I became his accomplice in deciphering the late-fall bite for largemouth bass. We’d push the season, breaking ice at the boat ramp and landing big bass in snowstorms. He was intent on determining when bass would stop biting and what lures worked best.

On one November trip, he, fishing with Al and me, he was determined to show that livebait would outfish artificials in water below about 40°F. He kept dipping into the half-frozen minnow bucket, catching only a couple of bass, as Al and I landed dozens on tube jigs. This kind of singular quest for expanding the “angling envelope” was at the very core of his nature and spurred his determination to devise novel tackle, as well as to create In-Fisherman, despite many setbacks.

Along the way, Ron and I fished a number of bass tournaments, notably at Lake Minnetonka in the early 1990s, where he figured out a deadly pattern for postspawn largemouths, catching them nearly at will on Slug-Gos fished with a deadstick presentation. At the first Denny Green Invitational, we loaded the boat and would have won except that he tried to horse-in a lunker, and it broke his line, leaving us runners-up behind Ted and Dean Capra.

This same determination led Ron to urge me to work with him on our last project, an examination of the challenges of barotrauma to the future of fishing. About 8 months ago, we collaborated on a review article and podcast about this problem and a plea for further investigation of ways to alleviate it in freshwater fisheries. Ron was determined to get this done, as his health was failing. He was always studying challenges to fishing and ways to grow the sport and keep more anglers involved, while at the same time running a successful business.

As years went by, Ron also showed determination to grow stronger in his Christian faith. I was impressed by his devotion to Jesus and his willingness to profess his beliefs to any audience. In this way, he strengthened my own faith and I find solace in knowing he is with our Heavenly Father.

Ned Kehde, In-Fisherman Field Editor

My days as a Midwest finesse angler have been eternally indebted to Ron Lindner for introducing me to the manifold virtues of Gopher Tackle’s 1/16-ounce Mushroom Head Jig.

In the 1950s, the Potthoff Family of Nisswa, Minnesota, and Harry Van Dorn of Merrifield, Minnesota, introduced me to Ron. I worked as a fishing guide for the Potthoffs, who were the proprietors of Minnewawa Lodge. Van Dorn was a much-heralded walleye angler who guided scores of anglers who vacationed at Potthoffs’ lodge.

Ned Kehde

During the 1960s, I occasionally visited the Potthoffs and crossed paths with Van Dorn, and it was through them in the late 1960s that I initially became aware of Ron’s rare piscatorial talents. Still, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that I again crossed paths with Ron, who was then the publisher and director of the board of In-Fisherman Communication Network.

During the next four decades, he enlightened me with an array of angling insights. One of them focused on the benefits of using a deadstick presentation with a variety of lures—even topwater baits. He talked to me about using the precursor to the now popular Neko rig. We conversed about the Lake of the Ozarks and the talents of Guido Hibdon of Sunrise Beach, Missouri. We also had a mutual interest in the history of angling.

Often times, too, our conversations diverged from fishing, and we focused on books and noted writers, such as G.K. Chesterton, who was a lay theologian, philosopher, and literary critic from England.

During the second decade of this century, Ron and I became interested in how to keep anglers who were in their 70s and 80s and still fishing. Ultimately, we worked together to publish a Midwest Finesse column entitled “Catching Fish and the Mind and Body of Old Anglers.” It was published on September 1, 2013.

As we worked on this column, we garnered the observations of Charlie Campbell of Forsyth, Missouri, who was 80 years old; Bill Ward of Warsaw, Missouri, who was 78; Tommy Martin of Hemphill, Texas, who was 72; Guido Hibdon, who was 67; and Rich Zaleski of Stevenson, Connecticut, who was 68. At that time, I was 73, and Ron was 80. Now, to our chagrin, Charlie Campbell, Guido Hibdon, and Ron Lindner have died.

Tom Neustrom, Legendary Guide and longtime friend

So many of us reach back in time and remember the early days with Ron. My relationship started with the brothers nearly 40 years ago. As an up-and-coming walleye guide and promoter, I wanted to pick their brains on everything they knew about walleye fishing.

Ronald was a master of the theoretical and he spoon fed me information—just enough to keep me coming back for more. He was that professor or teacher you had growing up that was always trying to instill solid fundamentals. In this case, it was the reason walleyes and other fish species react the way they do. He was way ahead of the times in the angling world. And he and Al created a learning system that taught millions how to catch fish.

Tom Neustrom

In the 1980s, Ron, Al, Dave Csanda, Dan Sura, and myself would load up into two vehicles and head down the road from Brainerd (like a carny road show) to Chicago, Antioch, Illinois, and Milwaukee, giving seminars at fishing clubs and sold-out Sport Shows. People were eager to hear us talk about theories for putting more fish in the boat. We were a “Band of Brothers,” with Ronald the lead singer, so to speak. It was the start of my career—having people like Ron and Al as mentors was an unbelievable break.

Ronald will, of course, be sadly missed by the millions of readers and followers of In-Fisherman—all those influenced by his theories, his writing, and, most importantly, his friendship. Rest in Peace my friend. You can fish every day in all eternity. Until we meet again.

John & Duane Peterson, Founders Northland Fishing Tackle

North American anglers and fishing industry stakeholders across the nation mourn the loss of one of North America’s greatest fishing icons and a legend for all time. Ron Lindner was the “God Father of Modern-Day Anglers,” and many of us in the fishing industry were blessed to have worked with him over the past four decades. His infectious personality, wisdom, and vision for the future of fishing had a huge impact on us, recreational anglers and professional anglers alike, as he helped to transform the methods to catch fish for generations to come.

Ron was a man of many professional talents that co-founded and spearheaded the growth of a major fishing empire in Brainerd, Minnesota. He was a savvy business entrepreneur, educator, innovator, inventor, writer, publisher, television producer, and tournament angler. He and brother Al pioneered the building of a multimedia empire with their visionary leadership focused on education, cutting-edge fishing techniques, new products development and promotional endeavors.

It benefitted anglers and the growth and success of hundreds of manufacturers across the country like Northland Fishing Tackle. Ron’s outgoing personality always made him available to discuss industry trends and issues, products ideas as well as on the water tactics and techniques with anglers and industry executives that led the way to many of our successful product innovations.

The energy, enthusiasm, passion, and vision for the future of fishing that Ron brought to bear was life changing. He danced to his own music, always ahead of the curve and always thinking outside the box. Ron’s faith, commitment to family and friends and his genuine love for fishing and the anglers had a huge influence on the Peterson brothers and the Northland Fishing Tackle family.

Rest in Peace beloved friend. Your legacy will live on for generations to come!

Roland Martin, 9-Time Bassmaster Angler of the Year

The first time Roland Martin fished with Ron Lindner came in the wake of the 1975 Bassmaster Classic.

“Ron called me that fall and said they were having an Indian Summer in Minnesota and that I should come up and fish with him and Al,” Martin recalled this week.

So off to Minnesota Martin went, only to see the weather conditions not live up to Lindner’s billing.

“It was Ron and Al and Ted Capra, myself and Babe Winkleman,” Martin said. “That didn’t happen much.

“During the trip, we had a cold front hit and Ron shows up with a polyester shirt and a lightweight wind breaker. The rest of us were wearing everything we had. Ron being Ron, he told us, ‘I’m tough. I can handle it.’ We’re out there freezing our butts off. We kept telling him he was going to catch pneumonia. ‘Nah, I’m tough. I’m from up here,’ he said. Needless to say, he got sick.”

The payoff, Martin said, was every one of them caught a 10-pound walleye, which provided for some epic stringer photos.

Years later, Lindner joined Martin for some bass fishing in Florida. The bite was slowing down and Lindner started hypothesizing reasons.

“He started talking about the sun and the increase in atomic disturbances going on and sun spots affecting the fish,” Martin recalled. “He felt there was too much radiation in the air. He had answers for everything.”

In terms of his impact on the industry, Martin said Lindner had few peers.

“He thought outside the box,” said Martin. “Everything he did was different. If there was a standard way to do something, he thought there was a different way. That was just Ron Lindner's way.

“He fished traditionally with his own twist on everything. Maybe it was another spinner or color combo or a kind of line. He was never satisfied with the standard deal whatever it was. He really thought about a lot of neat things. They'd troubleshoot a lot of lures and came up with a lot of innovation in the process.”

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