He anon will add affiliate of the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame to the list.
Leer, 56, of Walker, Minn., abstruse in mid-September that he is amid the 2019 inductees into the Hayward, Wis.-based Hall of Fame. A accoutrement in fishing circles beyond Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, the Minneapolis built-in afresh talked about his career and accessible Hall of Fame consecration with Herald outdoors biographer Brad Dokken.
Here is an edited archetype of their conversation.
GFH: How do you feel about actuality called for the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame? That puts you in some aerial company.
A: That’s the affair that’s so adamantine to appreciate for me. The accumulation of guys that is accustomed at the Hall of Fame is some appealing adeptness fishermen and creative, avant-garde bodies who accept afflicted all aspects of fishing—recreational, competitive, manufacturing, all over. And to anticipate that that accumulation acquainted I did article for the absolute is appealing humbling.
GFH: What are your ancient memories of fishing?
A: I started fishing with my dad and my uncles (in the aboriginal ’70s). I had an uncle with a berth on the Wolf Lake/Cass Lake chain, and again I had addition uncle that actually lived on Lake Bemidji, and he had a berth up on Lake of the Woods.
I was the youngest of bristles boys in my ancestors in Minneapolis, so my mom took abounding advantage of our ancestors and put me on a Greyhound that alone me in Cass Lake, Minnesota, and I’d absorb a little bit of time with an uncle on the Cass Lake chain, and again I would go over to Bemidji and absorb some time there, and again I would go to Canada and absorb some time there, and that’s how I ate up my summer vacation.
GFH: As I recall, you got your alpha as a fishing adviser up on Lake of the Woods. Tell me about that.
A: I lived on Oak Island of Lake of the Woods from 1988 to about 1992. And again I affectionate of confused aback and forth, and eventually, (my wife) Ineke had begin a job over by Rainy Lake and Kabetogama, over in that area, so I confused over there in like ’92, and again we confused bottomward to Leech Lake in ’96. I was allegorical the accomplished time. I guided basically from ’88 to about 2001.
GFH: Was there anytime a point forth the adventure breadth you thought, “I don’t apperceive if I can do this,” or did you consistently apperceive this was the advance you bare to take?
A: I’ve consistently accepted it was the advance I capital to take. The affair for me, authoritative a active in this business was actually not the easiest affair to do. And if you attending aback at my resume, you’d amount out that about every three years or so, you’re affectionate of reinventing a little bit what you do, if you’re activity to get out of the allegorical world.
I got (to Walker) in 1996, and I formed the Leech Lake Adviser Coalition like in ’97. That’s aback I started accepting complex in tournaments and acquired the bounded walleye tournament, started active that. And that’s aback things actually started to spin.
We launched On-Ice Tour, which is a promotional wing, and again I launched Fishing the WildSide (an alfresco business and communications company). That’s aback I got added into alive afterpiece with the companies, whether it was in business and promotion, artefact development or whatever it happened to be in, that all affectionate of acquired into a job.
The (economic) blast in the backward 2000s, aback we were aggravating to barrage television (“Fishing the WildSide TV” and after “Fishing the WildSide on Ice”), was a arduous time in our business. It was tough, but you aloof affectionate of acquainted advanced and didn’t anticipate about annihilation else. You aloof did what you ample you could do.
GFH: To what do you aspect your success?
A: I accept a lot of smart-aleck answers (laughs), but I would aloof say acceptance and perseverance. Aback we launched the ice fishing TV, everybody said it could not be done. And it angry out to be one of the best things we anytime did. Aloof because it was so avant-garde and so different.
I don’t apperceive if there’s any one affair you aspect your success to. Actuality able to acclimate to a alteration ambiance and befitting your eyes focused advanced and not giving up. It’s too accessible to say no. It’s too accessible to say it can’t be done. If it was easy, there would be a lot added bodies in the fishing business.
GFH: Are there any bodies you’ve actually looked up to as role models or who afflicted you over the years?
A: My wife, obviously. She has been a connected breadth of abutment whether things are acceptable or bad, she’s been there. And somebody aing to you like that, I’m appealing advantageous to accept that.
But I go aback to aback I aboriginal got in the business, 1988. I booty off, buy the best baiter I can, I’m activity to be a adviser on Lake of the Woods. I wrote a letter to Northland Fishing Tackle cogent them what I was activity to do. John Peterson (company founder) beatific me aback jigs and a hat. And I’m still cutting the Northland Fishing cap 30 years later, and he’s become one of my best friends. I anticipate amid John and Duane (Peterson, John’s brother and co-founder of Northland Tackle), those guys accept apparently been the two best actually admiring individuals that I’ve been around. They’re aloof abundant animal beings.
(There are) a accomplished agglomeration of bodies I’ve got annihilation but the absolute account for central the industry, and best of them are in the Hall of Fame. That’s what makes this so weird.
GFH: What are you currently complex with, and what’s ahead?
A: I still assignment with the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour accomplishing the date and TV, so I see a role for myself in clash angling, decidedly walleye clash angling, at some level, watching that abound forward. We’re at a appealing absorbing capital in agreement of format, and how that all moves advanced is appealing cool.
I’m still alive with a few manufacturers in agreement of artefact advance and artefact development—the Northland Fishing Tackles and Otter angle houses of the world—those guys I’m still aing with and alive with. I’m accomplishing things there, abnormally the artefact development stuff, and actuality allotment of those teams is actually advantageous for me.
GFH: Aback do you acquisition the time to go fishing?
A: Oh gosh, there’s lots of time to go fishing. My job responsibilities are—I don’t appetite to say light—but they are looser than they’ve anytime been. So what’s awesome, abnormally in the aftermost brace of years, I’ve begin myself fishing more—and fishing added for fun—than in the aftermost 10 or 15 years. Because there was a aeon of time there that I hardly anytime got to angle for fun. If I wasn’t fishing for work, I wasn’t fishing. And now, it’s actually opposite.
GFH: Pick one fishing cruise you could go on amid now and aing spring. What would it be?
A: I don’t apperceive if there’s one cruise because it actually comes by anniversary by anniversary what’s hot. Breadth do I appetite to be appropriate now? I appetite to be at Pine Falls (Manitoba) on the (Winnipeg) river block walleyes. And again I appetite to be on the Rainy River. …
What’s the aing best chaw to be on? The aing one you accept an befalling to go on. That’s apparently the added authentic answer.
GFH: We could allocution fishing all night, but annihilation abroad you’d like to add about the Hall of Fame account and what it agency to you?
A: The one affair I was actually not able for is this access from bodies in and out of the industry. The email messages, argument messages, buzz calls and messaging through amusing media. I had no idea, actually no idea, that it would be like this.
GFH: It’s been absolutely a ride.
A: Abundant ride. And it’s not over.
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