How do I get a job like yours? That’s a question I get all the time — almost as often as, “Where can I catch walleyes?’’
I have been fortunate to make a living in the sport-fishing industry my entire life. In the early ’60s, my brother Ron and I began a tackle manufacturing company, and as teenagers we ran it out of our parents’ home in Chicago.
After I returned from Vietnam, Ron and I moved our business dreams north — and for the last 55 years, our family businesses have served the sport-fishing industry in many different capacities. Media driven, we began marketing our products by producing television programs and publishing magazines and books, while also developing radio broadcasts and fishing tournaments.
Each supported our tackle-design and sales enterprises, with fishing education being the centerpiece of our various business platforms.
In the years since Ron and I broke into the fishing business, I’ve watched with keen interest the many changes — fishing-information and education trends, for example, as well as participant demographics, business consolidations and so forth.
Today, the fishing industry is generally in good shape. Positives include the nationwide high-school fishing team phenomena and the spike in the number of women and youth who fish — trends that are continually showcased to everyone’s benefit on social media.
Yet I worry that tomorrow’s fishing innovators and leaders face obstacles entering the industry Ron and I didn’t. At risk, ultimately, is fishing itself, because no business or sport can thrive unless it nurtures its devotees while providing opportunities for them to thrive personally and professionally.
Yet challenges beget opportunities, which explains our company’s founding last year of a Fishing Careers Workshop at Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake near Brainerd.
Showcasing successful professionals in the tackle, marine, media, tourism and other fishing-related businesses, the workshop’s intent was to incentivize the anglers for whom the sport is life-defining, while showing them a path forward in the business.
The gathering drew an energized, capacity crowd from 17 states and one Canadian province, ranging from teenagers to mid-career professionals.
In October, we will hold a second, one-day workshop at Madden's Resort on Gull Lake open to everyone from high school and college students to someone wanting a career change, as well as to business owners and other fishing professionals.
Here’s a little secret: I don’t catch fish every time I launch my boat. But my enthusiasm for fishing has never waned. Sharing that enthusiasm with others is an opportunity I cherish.
Editor’s note: Onetime guides and competitive anglers, Al and Ron Lindner founded In-Fisherman magazine in Brainerd in 1979, one of their many fishing-related businesses. Today the Lindner family operates Lindner Media Productions in Baxter, Minn. More information about the Gull Lake workshop is at fishingcareersworkshop.com.