Two men who changed the way Americans fish

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If you like to catch freshwater fish such as crappies, walleyes, pike, bass, catfish and all manner of bluegills and you’ve never heard of the brothers Ron and Al Lindner, you’re obviously not into reading fishing magazines or watching cable TV fishing shows.

As far back as the 1970s, I cannot recall a month when I did not scour the pages of a magazine called the In-Fisherman. It was the first — certainly not the last — entrepreneurial endeavor of the brothers Ron and Al Lindner, of Brainerd, MN. The magazine’s plain black/white images eventually were replaced by blazing color photos and ever-increasing, superb how-to fishing advice that to this day has never been exceeded by any other national publication. The natural progression of the magazine was an In-Fisherman television show (now known as the Fishing Edge) that featured the blond-maned, bearded Al Lindner.

It began in 1970, three years after returning from Viet Nam, when the 25-year-old Al first appeared on his own television show that not only showed his love for fishing and wonderful skills in catching them, it also became known as one of the few fishing shows where the host actually spoke a kind of English that everybody could understand. (A drawback among competing shows often was the fact that they were hosted by good anglers from the Deep South, but they occasionally would make us wince in mock pain when one of the good ol’ boys said things that would earn an English language student straight Fs.)

Al Lindner’s show was filmed and directed by his brother, Ron, and included his young 10-year-old nephew, James Lindner. In the early days, Al and Ron showcased truly useable fishing information by way of beautiful underwater action footage of lures and fish, not to mention heretofore unseen film of actual live strikes. The show, which has changed names several times but never compromised its mission on matters of quality and a quest to teach others how to catch fish, explained the relationship between underwater structure and proper lure presentation. It changed the way millions of us approached a day’s angling.

The Lindners showed us how to use various electronic depth finders such as flashers, paper graph machines, LCD units, even underwater cameras that can be bought by everyday fishermen. They talked about and showed ways of electronic mapping, global positioning systems (GPS) and side imaging. And all along, they also let us know that anybody can do it even if there is no money to buy high-end electronic gadgets.

Happy 40th anniversary, Al and Ron.

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