Have you ever dreamed of working in the fishing industry? Maybe you’d like to be a full-time fishing guide or work in the marketing department of a tackle company. Or perhaps your goal is to work for a resource management agency or compete as a professional tournament angler.
It’s a dream shared by avid anglers across the Upper Midwest, but the path is not always easy. Al Lindner, co-founder of both In-Fisherman and Lindner Media Productions, wants to share how he and several industry friends successfully found a career while pursuing their passion for fishing.
The Camp Fish legacy
Brothers Al and Ron Lindner operated Camp Fish near Walker, Minn., for 10 years before closing the doors in the mid-1990s. It was a summer camp for kids that also included special events for parents. The curriculum focused on teaching campers how to catch more and bigger fish and conserve natural resources.
“Camp Fish was very successful in terms of executing our educational mission,” Al said. “But it wasn’t financially viable — at least not the way we did it. Shutting it down was one of the most difficult decisions Ron and I ever made.”
A few years ago, the Lindners hosted an informal 25-year camp-staff reunion in Walker. More than 60 people showed up, and many of them were still involved in the fishing industry.
“As these people shared stories about the impact the camp had on their lives,” Lindner said, “it was clear that fishing remained a big part of who they are. My son Troy was so moved, he asked me, ‘Can we do something like that again?’”
Not likely, Al thought, but it did serve as a catalyst for another idea: How does someone break into the fishing industry?
The Fishing Careers Workshop
“As we refined that idea, I made a list of 58 names,” Lindner said. “Each of those people had a slightly different job description across five industries: tackle, marine, tourism, media and resource management — essentially every segment of the fishing business.”
Lindner started calling the people on his list, explaining the idea and asking for feedback.
“Every single one of them was just as excited about the idea as I was,” Lindner said. “And they all volunteered to be part of the project.”
Last year, 120 people from 12 states and provinces attended the workshop. “They came from California, Oregon, New Jersey, Ontario and more,” Lindner added. “We had kids from high school fishing teams, retirees looking to invest in a fishing-related business and just about every demographic in between.
“A couple of young men from Brainerd ended up moving to Montana to work as fly-fishing guides,” Lindner said. “Another moved to Alaska and has been incredibly successful in his new guiding venture.”
Teenage brothers Kyle and Tyler Bahr attended the first workshop and soon after launched Juice Bait Company in Brainerd. They will be speakers at the event this year, hoping to inspire others to follow their lead.
“Their dad tells me that their lives now revolve entirely around fishing,” Lindner said. “Not just the brothers, but the whole family. They bought a new bass boat and spend virtually all of their free time on the water.”
Building a lifestyle legacy
The outdoor industry has changed dramatically over the past 50 years, but Lindner said there are still untapped opportunities.
“There are more than 35,000 jobs related to the sportfishing industry in Minnesota alone,” he said. “Where ever you find good fishing, you’ll find a marine dealer, and a tackle shop, and some kind of tourism operation.”
Lindner said many will start with a part-time opportunity. That business might eventually build into a full-time income, or it might just subsidize a fishing habit.
“If you’re looking to make a zillion dollars, this isn’t for you,” he added. “This is a lifestyle business. But if you’re looking to pursue your passion, you can make a decent living in the fishing industry.
"There’s no question that this workshop has already had a positive impact on people’s lives,” he said. “I want to build on that momentum, show people the opportunities. I want this to be my legacy.”
Tony Roach is a full-time fishing guide on Mille Lacs Lake. He also works as a seminar speaker, television presenter and product developer.
Scott Glorvigen is CEO at Wired2Fish and Gemini Sport Marketing in Grand Rapids, Minn. He’s also a former guide, veteran tournament angler and television host.
Kyle (16) and Tyler (15) Bahr are co-owners of Juice Bait Co. in Brainerd, Minn. They are both successful tournament anglers on the Minnesota high school fishing circuit and at national events.
Sarah Strommen is Commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, overseeing a staff of more than 2,700 employees across the state.
Ron Schara is executive producer at Ron Schara Productions. He’s a popular writer and television host who has been sharing outdoors stories for more than 40 years.
Dan Quinn is field promotions manager at Rapala in Minnetonka. He grew up in the fishing industry and now oversees media and pro staff-relations at one of the world’s largest tackle companies.
Steve Sarley is a veteran outdoors communicator who has been active in print, radio and television for more than 20 years. He’s co-host of the “We Fish ASA” podcast, produced for the American Sportfishing Association.
Matt Johnson is the manager of Ice Team and pro-staff director at Clam Outdoors. He also is a former guide and frequent seminar speaker.
Tom Neustrom has been a full-time fishing guide and industry promoter for more than 35 years. He also is a veteran walleye tournament angler who is widely recognized as an industry mentor.
Al Lindner is co-host of Lindner’s Angling Edge television series and co-founder of Lindner Media Productions, based in Baxter, Minn. He also is co-founder of In-Fisherman.
Troy Lindner is the co-host of the AnglingBuzz and The Ontario Experience television series. He also has tallied an impressive list of bass tournament finishes.
If you go
What: Fishing Careers Workshop
When: Oct. 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Where: Carlson Corporate Facility Center at the ERX Motor Park in Elk River, Minn.
Cost: $250 — paid attendees ages 14-18 may bring a parent or guardian. All proceeds go to Fishing for Life.
For more information: https://fishingcareersworkshop.com/