International angling icon Ron Lindner passes at age 86
Baxter, Minn. — Ron Lindner, a legendary angler and leader in the sport-fishing industry, passed Monday evening at the age of 86. On Tuesday morning, hundreds of social media posts from across the angling world mourned the loss and remembered Lindner and his impact on recreational fishing.
Lindner’s brother and longtime fishing and business partner, Al Lindner, told Outdoor News on Tuesday that Ron had been diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and had chosen not to go through chemotherapy. In recent months, he’d dealt with additional health complications, including COVID-19, but he passed quickly Monday after enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday with family.
“It was a perfect storm with everything that accelerated with his health, but he told me two weeks ago, ‘No more hospitals,’” Al Lindner said. “He was at home and able to see family the weekend before Thanksgiving, then he just wanted to make it through the holiday, which he was able to enjoy.”
“He really went fast, and he was ready,” Al Lindner said. “He told me last week, ‘I did everything. My life is complete.’”
A savvy businessman and angling innovator, Ron Lindner changed the way Americans catch fish. Since his boyhood he’d loved fishing, and he still hit the water hundreds of days per year well into his 80s. Coworkers remember him remaining active throughout 2020.
“He was still sharp as a tack and in here at the office just the week before last,” said Jeff Simpson, digital media director, at Lindner Media Productions in Baxter. “He’d been busy and fishing all summer with Al.”
Born in Chicago, Ron developed a lifelong love of fishing with his brother while spending summers at their parents’ lake cabin on Lake Ripley in Cambridge, Wis. After a stint in the Army in the early 1950s, and after Al’s tour of Vietnam, the pair moved their families in 1966 first to Wisconsin and then to Brainerd. Once established as fishermen and guides, the Lindners tested the waters of outdoor television in 1970 with Ron scripting, filming, and directing the show and Al in front of the camera.
As owners of the In-Fisherman, Ron and Al produced early TV and radio shows, as well as the In-Fisherman Magazine. He also founded Lindy Tackle, invented the Lindy Rig, other fishing terminal tackle, and did pioneer work on underwater cameras and the modern rain suit.
Ron and Al Lindner sold their stakes in Lindy Tackle in 1973, and in In-Fisherman in 1998. In recent years, they and their extended families have focused their efforts on Baxter, Minn.-based Lindner Media Productions, the home of Lindner’s Angling Edge.
Lindner was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as a Legendary Angler in 1991, then later enshrined as an educator. The Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame inducted him in 2000, the Normark Hall of Fame in 2007, and the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2020.
In pursuing his dream of working in the world of sportfishing, Lindner wore many hats – professional guide, tackle and equipment designer, inventor (including three patents and 30 unique designs to his credit), tackle manufacturer, inventor, professional tournament angler, promoter, writer, publisher, book author, television producer, radio host, internet and social media producer, and perhaps most importantly, a curious fisherman and consummate innovator. He co-authored 10 books and wrote hundreds of published articles and produced thousands of radio and TV scripts.
In recent years, Lindner remained active in new media and focused many hours on the Target Walleye e-newsletter.
Longtime Outdoor News “Rocking the Boat” columnist Joe Fellegy remembers working with the Lindners during the early days of In-Fisherman magazine and Lindy Tackle in central Minnesota.
“Ron was so noteworthy on multiple fishing fronts. He was a co-founder of In-Fisherman publications and Lindy’s Tackle back in the 1970s. Add Lindner Media in recent years. Yes, he got deep into fishing. But early-on he realized there was demand and related profit in how-to marketing via print, television, and other media. Yes, Ron Lindner lived well into his 80s, but unlike many old-timers he got ever deeper into the digital world.
“Over the last several years I’d occasionally stop at Lindner Media headquarters in Baxter to chat with Ron and brother Al. Workaholic Ron would often be busy in his office doing computer work, chatting with much-younger workmates, or getting excited about a recent fishing trip he made. He sure got to be a star in the modern fishing world!”
Outdoor News blogger Tim Lesmeister had known Lindner for decade an offered this insight into the mind of the great fishing tinkerer: “When you consider all of the concepts, products, information, and technology that Ron Lindner pioneered over the years you realize what a true genius he was. I recall dropping into his office one day when he was designing a snag-proof sinker. He had a prototype on his desk which he held up and explained to me – for the next 45 minutes – why this was the ultimate fishing weight and how it would outperform all the others. It was a glimpse into the mind of the man who created one of the greatest fishing empires of all time. The fishing world lost a giant.”
Minnesota-based fishing biologist and author Dick Sternberg first met Lindner at a Governor’s Fishing opener event in the 1960s, and the men had been fishing buddies ever since.
“I’ve been dreading this day, but I knew it was coming,” Sternberg said on Tuesday. “We’ll definitely miss him, and everything will feel different on the water without him.”
Fishing around the country with Lindner, Sternberg said he always admired his willingness to try new techniques and locations.
“We’d be considering a place we’d caught fish before, and Ron would always say, ‘Let’s go somewhere else and catch fish,’” Sternberg said. “Making bad fishing decisions didn’t bother him if it meant trying something new.”
Lindner is survived by his wife of 66 years, Dolores, and their seven children and numerous grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 7 at Halvorson-Taylor Funeral in Brainerd with visitation at 10 a.m. Al Lindner encouraged readers to monitor the Lindner Media Productions Facebook page for additional information about his brother’s remarkable life.
“We’d been business partner since I was in high school back in Chicago,” said Al, who was 10 years younger than Ron. “There was something magical about that age difference. We worked well together. We were partners in everything.”