In the mid-1960s, Ron Lindner and his younger brother, Al, moved from their native Chicago to Minnesota. Their goal: to live off their obsession with fishing.
The Lindners became fishing guides on a group of lakes near Brainerd in central Minnesota. They also started selling the Lindy Rig, a fishing lure designed by Ron Lindner to catch walleye and other fish. They taught âangling algebraâ – fish + location + presentation = success.
After selling their Lindy Rig business to Rayovac Corp.
in 1974, they started In-Fisherman magazine and dabbled in books, television and radio shows. Primedia Inc. purchased the In-Fisherman business in 1998.
Four years later, the Lindner brothers and some of their children were back with Lindner Media Productions, producing more fishing TV shows.
Although Ron Lindner’s dream of making a living from his hobby came true, his alcoholism nearly destroyed him. He credited his recovery to Alcoholics Anonymous and a Minnesota evangelist, Lowell Lundstrom, who redirected him to a life of his Christian faith. The Lindner brothers became fishers of men, as described in the Gospels, and spent much of their time sharing their faith.
Ron Lindner died Nov. 30 in Baxter, Minnesota. He was 86 years old and suffered from lung cancer. In a memoir, he remembers being “picked up by the soft net of the grace of God.” God, he added, “does not practice capture and release.”
It wasn’t just the fishing gear that he invented. He also coined terms used to tell stories to his grandchildren. They included âtricknannyâ (a difficult situation), âsouth of Pango Pangoâ (irretrievably lost) and âdrip lippinâ (doing something obviously stupid).
Ronald John Lindner, son of factory workers, was born September 1, 1934 in Chicago.
In âReflections at First Light,â the Brothers’ Memories and Devotion from 2015, they recalled their childhood summers in a lakeside cabin owned by their paternal grandparents near Hayward, Wisconsin. Ron, who was 10 years older than Al, persuaded his little brother to dig, lift the worms, fix the hoist and load the boat. “He told me everyone starts out as a ‘dewormer’ apprentice, and for years I believed him,” Al Lindner wrote.
While still living with their parents in Chicago, the brothers started a decoy sales business called Lindner Manufacturing.
After high school, Ron Lindner served in the military and was stationed in Germany. He then spent a dozen years working on road construction crews and fishing on weekends. When Al Lindner returned in 1966 from military service in Vietnam, the brothers moved to Brainerd and began their work as guides.
Ron Lindner’s Lindy Rig became a hit in the late 1960s, and the brothers created Lindy Tackle Co. to make it. The platform features a shoehorn-shaped ballast and is designed to glide through and over rocks without getting stuck. This helps deliver the bait to deeper water, “where the fish live,” said Al Lindner.
After selling Lindy Tackle, the brothers planned to produce their own TV series and pitched the idea to Ted Turner’s WTBS broadcast channel. After showing initial interest, WTBS did not take the bait. Ron Lindner, who had seven dependent children, had already spent a large chunk of the proceeds from the sale of the fishing tackle company and feared going bankrupt.
âI was in a manic state and started drinking a lot,â he wrote. His breaking point came on a spring weekend in Minneapolis, where he was attending a trade show. Mr Lindner went on a pipe bender, forgot where he had parked his car and woke up in a hotel room. He couldn’t remember what day it was.
A few days later, at the suggestion of his wife, Dolores, they attended a revival meeting led by Mr. Lundstrom in Crosby, Minn. When the evangelist summoned those who wished to accept Jesus as their savior, Mr. Lindner later wrote: âI jumped out of my seat and almost ran to the stage.
With their TV projects on hold, the brothers decided to try selling a series of fishing study guides. With the help of their wives, they prepared a brochure and began to mail it. The hope was to find 1,000 subscribers to pay for the guides in advance. In a few months, they had sold 17,000 subscriptions.
Thanks to his faith and AA, Ron Lindner was finally able to stay sober. Study guides have evolved into a magazine. This has led to books, videos, more magazines, TV series, radio shows, fishing schools and a walleye tournament business. In 1983, they were fortunate enough to run lucrative magazine ads for a brand of alcoholic beverages. Although tempted, they refused it.
Ron Lindner continued to tinker with the tackle and introduced the No-Snagg Slip Sinker in 1999.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, the former Dolores Hakes, as well as his brother, seven children, 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
As Ron Lindner’s health deteriorated, Al Lindner took him fishing a few months ago to a secret location near Brainerd. âWe caught a whole bunch of Smallmouth Bass,â said Al Lindner. Ron Lindner has said this may well be his last fishing trip. It was.
Weeks later, after enduring cancer treatments and catching pneumonia and then Covid-19, Ron Lindner told his brother, “Al, no more hospitals, man.” He wanted to die at home. He did.
Write to James R. Hagerty at email@example.com
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