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Ron Lindner, Professional Angler And “Fisher of Men,” Dies at Age 86

Emily McFarlan Miller

Ron Lindner—famous in the sport fishing industry as both a fisher of walleye and what the Gospels describe as a “fisher of men”—died Nov. 30 at age 86.

Lindner, along with his younger brother Al, was a member of the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. The two brothers were known for inventing the popular Lindy Rig fishing lure, publishing In-Fisherman Magazine and appearing in a series of fishing shows.

“Anyone who crossed paths with Ron Lindner is aware of his extraordinary life, successful career, and tremendous faith in the Lord. To millions of anglers, he was an inspiration,” the Lindners’ official Facebook page posted last week.

“But most importantly, he was Dolores’s husband, a father, brother, grandfather, great-grandfather—and a friend to many.”

Ronald John Lindner was born Sept. 1, 1934, in Chicago and spent his summers growing up at his family’s cabin on a lake near Hayward, Wisconsin, according to the memoir-devotional he co-wrote with his brother, “Reflections at First Light: A Fisherman’s Devotional.”

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It was at the family cabin where the brothers discovered a love of fishing, moving in the 1960s from Chicago to Wisconsin and later Minnesota to work as fishing guides and start a small tackle-making business.

Before becoming guides, both brothers served in the Army: Ron Lindner in Germany and Al Lindner in Vietnam.

Some of the lures the brothers invented sold in the millions, and they later sold the Lindy Tackle Co. They also started the In-Fisherman Media Network, authoring books and articles, producing radio shows and hosting a nationally syndicated TV show.

Ron Lindner’s struggles with alcohol addiction led him to a revival by the late evangelist Lowell Lundstrom in 1978. Lindner became a Christian there at age 44, followed by his wife and brother.

“I don’t know how close I had come to spooling God’s reel, but I knew I was close! All the fight was out of me,” Lindner, who also joined Alcoholics Anonymous, wrote in “Reflections at First Light.”

When the brothers came to faith, it changed everything, Al Lindner added in the introduction to the devotional.

Reading the Bible, the duo were delighted to discover the first disciples had also been fishermen and Jesus himself “was evidently well acquainted with life in the boat,” Al Linder wrote. They soon were sharing their new faith with others through fishing analogies — most recently, in a number of inspirational messages online and in the closing of the show “Lindner’s Angling Edge.”

“When Ron speaks to other fishermen about how Jesus Christ saved him from a life of alcoholism, he sometimes mentions being ‘scooped up in the gentle net of God’s grace.’ He might also say, ‘God does not practice catch and release. Instead, He puts us in His live well of eternal life—forever!’” Al Linder wrote.

At his brother’s funeral earlier this month, Al Lindner said many people may not realize how deeply he had studied the Bible.

“I guarantee you he knows more about biblical truth (and the) history of different religions than most people in full time ministry today. He was a brilliant, brilliant man,” Al Lindner said. “Other than fishing, this was almost obsessive with him — searching the truth of God’s word.”

Ron Lindner died late last month at his home in Baxter, Minnesota, according to The Wall Street Journal, after bouts with lung cancer, pneumonia and COVID-19—and one last fishing trip with his brother several months ago.

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Emily McFarlan Miller
Emily McFarlan Miller

Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS based in Chicago. She covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity.

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