When I heard the news that angling legend Ron Lindner has passed on earlier this week it broke my heart. I consider myself very fortunate to have crossed paths with Ron when I was a youngster and we developed a friendship that lasted many years. He has had a great influence on my life and career in fishing.
Along with brother Al, the Lindner brothers are legendary pioneers for sport fishing in North America. In the 70’s, they realized the need for educating anglers everywhere and started In-Fisherman. In short order they were making TV shows and videos, had a magazine and were writing books – all of which were successful. They designed tackle that is still popular today and started the Professional Walleye Tour that operated successfully for many years. All of these activities got their own unique, original Lindner trademark.
I knew who Ron was when I was a youngster because all I read if I wasn’t in class were fishing magazines and In-Fisherman was my favorite. I first met him in 1993. I was ten years old and competing in my first fishing tournament, the Kenora Bass International (KBI) tournament on Lake of the Woods. Ron would go on to win that tournament with his son Bill – instantly becoming a legend for me - dominating a 220 boat field that included anglers like Guido and Dion Hibdon, who finished second, O.T. Fears and Terry Baksay, his brother Al and son James - who would win the tournament the following year, Canadian bass fishing icon Bob Izumi and a bunch of great local anglers including Gord Pyzer.
The Lindner clan fished the KBI as well as the Canadian Bass Championships on Rainy Lake for years. They had success in both tournaments and today have a strong following from many anglers in my home area. These tournaments became my passion and as a teenager Ron was by far my favorite pro angler. He always gave me all the time I wanted when I was probably an annoying kid wanting to talk fishing all the time and was never shy to share his thoughts on fishing and life. I looked forward to these meetings every summer as a teenager. As I became competitive in these tournaments on my home waters, Ron started making bets with me – rather he would reward me if I beat him. It might have been a fishing rod, a $100 bill, pick 10 lures out of Al’s tackle box. He always paid up and made me a happy kid. I still have a few of those lures today.
After selling the In-Fisherman business in late 90’s, Ron stepped back from the business a little bit and started spending the winters in Florida. Don’t get me wrong here, he didn’t actually retire or anything, he kept up with the business side of fishing and the hot tactics for all species of fish until the end but he did leave Minnesota in the winters to go to Florida where he fished a lot. In 2004, I was going to university when I got a message from Ron inviting me down to his place during my spring break. So I went to Florida for the first time. He and his wife Dolores looked after me for a week and we fished every day, both on the saltwater around his place in Port St. Lucie and for bass. He took me to the famous Stick Marsh for the first time and I caught a seven pound largemouth, my biggest at the time. Still have great memories from that trip.
As he got older, the trips to Canada to compete in our bass tournaments grew farther apart but he still kept up with the results and ways that we were catching fish. He was often the first phone call I got following a derby, just interested in the fishing. This continued when I started traveling around the U.S. to compete. The last call came following the last Elite Series tournament of 2020 at Lake Fork a few weeks ago. It was a tough event for me but he wanted to make sure I knew that I needed to have all the electronics on my boat next year that were available and that in the fall, bass suspend around trees. It made me laugh because he was right.
Ron was inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame this year and sadly he won’t be able to attend the induction ceremony. It was a celebration that I looked forward to crashing. He will be remembered by anglers around the world who have benefited from his fishing knowledge and communication skills. I will miss the phone calls.