Listen: Master fisherman Al Lindner profiled

With the fishing opener arriving in Minnesota, Mainstreet Radio’s Rachel Reabe visits Perch Lake near Brainerd to profile Al Lindner, a professional fisherman who has made quite the splash in the business of fishing.


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AL LINDER: The sport of fishing was never a casual interest to me. I mean, the best word I can use was obsession. That's all I ever wanted to do, period. Every penny I had went to it. Every trip that I would plant-- everything I did my entire life was based around fish or fishing.

RACHEL RABI: Al Lindner is one of the lucky ones. He's managed to make a living doing what he likes to do best. And in the process, he and his brother, Ron, have built a fishing empire.

WADE BOURNE: This is In-Fisherman Radio. And I'm Wade Bourne.

RACHEL RABI: Headquartered in Brainerd, the Lindner's In-Fisherman Communications Network started out 20 years ago as a television fishing show. It spread to include In-Fisherman Magazine, then a nationwide radio network of fishing shows. Today, the company also produces fishing videos, books, fishing clothes and accessories. In a country where an estimated 60 million people fish, Al and Ron Lindner have struck it rich.

MARV KEMP: They invented fishing knowledge because they went out there and they said, oh, no, the fish are doing this because-- they think because they're hitting the red and white lazy ike today it's because they're in 12 feet of water, the lake is thermocline. They had a reason the fish were in 12 feet.

RACHEL RABI: Marv Kemp, who runs a bait and tackle shop north of Brainerd, hired the Lindner brothers 25 years ago as fishing guides. Al was in his early 20s. Ron, nine years older. They had developed a successful fishing strategy using the recently invented depth finder and the concept of underwater structure.


AL LINDER: In these bodies of water, even if they're good lakes with a lot of fish, the fact of the matter is darn near 90% of it has no fish at a given time. Only 10% of that whole thing is holding fish. So I mean, 90% of what you're looking at, if you can get that into your head, is empty water. Nothing zero in it.

RACHEL RABI: What Al Lindner is able to do almost always is find the part of the lake with the fish and then catch them. On this day, he's fishing the small lake outside of Brainerd that he lives on. An assortment of fishing gadgets decorate his aluminum fishing boat one of his fleet of five.

AL LINDER: I got a liquid crystal in here, a depth finder next to it, a paper graph. These are three of the fish-finding devices. All three of them serve a purpose. I use all three to better understand how each one works.

There are different form of electronic gadget: A surface temperature gauge that constantly reads out the surface temp, like we're 57.4 right now. We get up in that bay, it's probably going to be-- where we'll be fishing, I would guess in 62, 63, 64; shallow bay, a lot warmer, darker bottom. Surface temperature's got a lot to do with fish movement, particularly early and late in the year.

I've got a drop gauge in this compartment. This is a vertical temperature gauge that reads up and down. I can drop it down and have an instant temperature read-out vertically in the water. That's to read thermoclines.

RACHEL RABI: This is the kind of afternoon you would enjoy being out in a boat, even if you weren't fishing. Alone circles warily nearby, keeping an eye on the nest built close to the water's edge. A couple of young boys are trying to catch turtles from a rowboat.

AL LINDER: I had seen no place in North America and still have never seen any place in North America, and I have traveled almost all of it, within a short driving distance that offers more diversified fishing than Brainerd. And you have got largemouth bass, you got smallmouth bass, you got muskie, or you got walleyes, crappies, bluegills, perch, or short stream trout.

RACHEL RABI: Brainerd is also home to fishing personality Babe Winkelman's Television Production company and Lindy Little Joe, one of the nation's big fishing tackle manufacturers. The three companies, who together employ close to 170 people, have given Brainerd the reputation of being the country's freshwater fishing capital for research and information.

Although Al Lindner spends as many as 200 days a year fishing, it doesn't seem to have diminished the thrill. He's out on the lake today for the fishing opener, a day of what he calls "fun fishing." No clients to entertain, no television segment to shoot, no research to do.

AL LINDER: Catching a fish is not the challenge to me at this point in my life. Catching fish is not the challenge at all. In fact, it's probably the least interesting. It's figuring out how to catch the fish. Once I know I can catch them, it really don't mean anything to me. It's like after that, the party's over.

The challenge is to figure out the fish. It's more of a battle between me and the fish on a personal level now than anything else. And that's what it amounts to. Knowing that they will always win out in the end.

RACHEL RABI: Professional fisherman Al Lindner. On Perch Lake near Brainerd, I'm Rachel Rabi.

AL LINDER: I don't want to lose my bobber. I got it.

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