Baumann, Zernov are fishing hall of famers
Brainerd, Minn. The Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame, now
headquartered at Brainerd, inducted two new fishing legends at a
banquet at Cragun’s on Gull Lake last Saturday evening.
The 2004 inductees are Steve Baumann, owner and president of
Minneapolis-based Vexilar, Inc., and of Salmo-USA; and Jeff Zernov,
founder and CEO of Nature Vision, Inc. in Brainerd.
Hall of Fame inductees are selected by a vote of those already
in the hall. To qualify, a candidate must be at least 50 years old,
have been a Minnesota resident for 25 years or more, and must have
made “substantial contributions to sport fishing” as guide,
manufacturer, promoter, public servant, or writer.
Baumann and Zernov were chosen from a field of nominees that
also included Bob Cary, Chan “Doc” Cotton, Dick “Griz” Grizywinski,
Irwin Jacobs, Don Link, Royal Karels, Bob Strand, and “Tackle”
Inductee Baumann, 52, is a mechanical engineer originally from
farm country near Westbrook, Minn. His youth fishing began with
bullheads on a near-home creek and on local lakes like Sarah and
Shetek. He recalled his early history with Vexilar, including the
“sounds and smells” of early paper graphs in the 1970s.
Baumann’s long Vexilar stint began at the company’s “fish
finder” plant in Marshall while he was a student at Southwest State
University (now Minnesota State-Marshall).
Baumann paid special tribute to the late Skip Christman, his
long-time associate, whose death in 1995 left Baumann at the
Vexilar helm. Baumann observed how the ice-fishing boom of recent
years has been the perfect fit for Vexilar’s FL-8 and its successor
depthfinders, as well as other ice-fishing products.
Baumann, incidentally, designed the first digital scales for
Rapala. His Salmo-USA and AWC Distributing are now importing the
extensive Salmo line of Polish lures. He also heads the Motor
Clinic, which services Minn-Kota and MotorGuide electric trolling
Zernov, 50, is a reputed fishing innovator and prolific
inventor, currently holding dozens of fishing-related patents,
patent-pendings, and trademarks. At 18, the Milwaukee native and
youthful fishing nut moved to Brainerd to be with Al and Ron
Lindner and the original Lindy’s Tackle. In the mid-1970s he helped
them launch In-Fisherman media, doing a lot of fishing along the
Zernov founded Zercom Corporation and developed the first
real-time LCD flasher. He currently heads Nature Vision, Inc.,
maker of Aqua-Vu underwater video cameras, Bird-Vu, Buzz-Stix ice
rods, and other outdoors products.
Zernov credits the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame for its “youth
focus,” and talks up the importance of “positive fishing
experiences at an early age that can grow into a lifelong
When he was 12, Zernov’s parents bought a place on Okauchee Lake
near Milwaukee, a favorite of pioneer angling guru Bill Binkelman.
Zernov “devoured” fishing literature and angling broadcasts,
following the likes of Gadabout Gaddis, Curt Goudy, and Buck Perry.
He first met the Lindners when they gave seminars for the Okauchee
Lake Fishing Club and Walleyes Unlimited.
The hall’s mission
Al Maas, of Walker, Minn., a fishing guide and retired teacher,
recounted the early “hard work” that created the Minnesota Fishing
Hall of Fame at Walker more than five years ago. He described the
challenges of communication and outreach across the state’s fishing
community to select the initial 20 inductees and to bring together
the memorabilia and visuals for the hall’s displays. He recalled
his own legwork and cited the fast-paced and “relentless” efforts
of Jeff Arnold and an initial board of directors in getting the
hall up and running in 2000.
Emcee Ron Schara, outdoors writer and television personality,
said he envisions a Minnesota fishing museum and theater joining
the hall as part of its goal of interpreting and passing on
Minnesota’s rich fishing heritage.
Al Lindner told Outdoor News, “No other state can boast the
number of people, the caliber of people, that have impacted the
sport of fishing in this country. If any state deserves a fishing
hall of fame, it’s Minnesota.
“I’m glad to see this kind of support and I hope it grows,” he
Speakers at the induction ceremony emphasized a need for
continuing financial support of the hall and its mission, including
the encouragement of youth participation in fishing. Along with
honoring the new inductees, the banquet served as a fund-raising
event for the hall. About 250 $100-a-plate banquet tickets were
sold. More than 50 businesses and individuals were banquet donors.
Attendees vied for 32 silent auction items.
Gold Sponsors contributing $3,000 or more included Arrowhead
Promotions & Fulfillment, Babe Winkelman Productions, Lindner
Media Productions, Lindy Legendary Fishing Tackle, Nature Vision,
Inc., Nor-Son, Pure Fishing, and Reeds.
Silver Sponsors, contributing at least $1,500 included Clam
Corporation, Crystal Pierz Marine, Lake & River Bait, Mac
Manufacturing, Northland Fishing Tackle, and Vexilar.
Now at Brainerd
The Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame, originally in Walker, moved
to Brainerd last spring. Its showroom at the new Reeds Family
Outdoor Outfitters along Highway 371 showcases the inductees and
includes videos plus lots of Minnesota fishing memorabilia.
Self-paced tours are free.
Starting with an original 2000 class of 20, the Minnesota
Fishing Hall of Fame now includes these inductees: Nick Adams, Joe
Alexander, Randy Amenrud, Steve Baumann, Larry Bollig, Ted Capra,
Joe Fellegy, Jim Fladebo, Joe Fladebo, Butch Furtman, Dan Gapen,
Dave Genz, Gil Hamm, In-Fisherman, Marv Koep, Bob Lessard, Al
Lindner, Ron Lindner, Lund Boats (Larry Lovold), Al Maas, Ray
Ostrom, Jim Peterson (Outdoor News founder), John Peterson, Gary
Roach, Ron Schara, Frank Schneider, Dick Sternberg, Ron Weber, Babe
Winkelman, and Jeff Zernov.