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How Two Famous Fishermen Put Their Lives and Business on the Line

Shannon Woodland - 700 Club Producer
Caleb Wood - 700 Club Producer

In the world of fishing, Al and Ron Lindner have been household names for decades.  The two brothers built America’s largest multimedia sports fishing network on a simple idea.

Ron said, “Teaching America how to catch fish is our business.” Al chimed in, “Is our business.” Ron added, “This was our motto. It was a motto we used and it was true.”  Al said, “It's true stuff! That's the way - that's our strength!”

They’re also teaching America a lot more than just how to catch a fish.

Al shared the Gospel on the Angling Edge fishing show: “This is the story that God is sharing with you and about how much He loves you and cares about you, that’s why He sent His son Jesus to die for the sins of mankind.”

But in the early days, sharing the love of Jesus was the last thing on their minds.  Born 10 years apart, the two grew up in a Catholic, blue-collar home in Chicago. Nothing could compete with their passion for fishing.

Al said, “I knew that I knew that I knew when I was 12 years old that I was going to make a living fishing, and I would tell everybody that.”

To fund their days on the water, they started making and selling lures out of their parent’s basement.

Ron said, “We would go around Chicago to the bait shop, the various sports stores, and we sold them.  We had a regular little business going.” Al said, “We made little jibs and they were called the pinky jib and it was a great jib to catch crappies and bluegills and white bass in that area.” Ron said, “It’s still good!”

Then in 1968, Al, a 17- year- old high school junior and Ron, a 27- year- old husband and father established the Lindner Manufacturing Company.  It was then they came up with their world- famous Lindy Rig, a design that would revolutionize Walleye fishing.

But the brothers would have to put their business and dreams on hold when Al was drafted, and sent to Viet Nam.

Ron said, “He's in Viet Nam. I'm praying constantly, and I've got to explain something you, neither of us are born again. He's not at all, I am at the time, I'm a Christian, quote-unquote, but not born again. I believed in God, I believed that Jesus was somehow the Son of God, I didn't know how, and the Holy Spirit, I didn't know nothing.”

Sitting in a foxhole with bombs exploding everywhere Al was also praying.

“I knew enough where I cried out to God and says, "look" God in my words at the time, I said, "I don’t want to be here.  Please God, get me out of this thing," Al said.  

Of course, Al made it out alive, but his foxhole prayer quickly faded.  Soon he married, started a family, and moved to Minnesota with Ron, on their way to making fishing history.

But with their lure’s landing in tackle boxes everywhere, and their fishing shows becoming more popular, Ron started feeling the pressure.  The once casual drinker, now needed alcohol to get through the day.

Ron said, “These things happened out of nowhere and a lot of times literally to cope with it, I had to take, another one, another one.”

Ron was driving home one day after a weekend of drinking, when a preacher on the radio got his attention.

“I can't argue. I could have argued with some "all right, I didn't murder nobody, I didn't rob anyone,” said Ron. "I can't argue that I'm not a drunkard. I am one.  And I'm not going to inherit the Kingdom of God.  That's it!”

So, Ron didn’t resist when his wife, Delores, invited him to a church revival service.

Ron said, “He says, "do you accept Jesus as your savior?"  "yes, yes, yes, yes. Boom.  44 years old. That night, a little backwards town in Minnesota, Jesus Christ comes and visited me.”

And delivered him from alcohol. With new perspective, Ron and others started talking to his brother about Jesus.  But Al quickly cast those ideas aside – to the point of making excuses for not praying with his kids at bedtime.

“Dad prays to God when he's alone with him later tonight," said Al. “That's my answer, cause I didn't know how to pray.”  

One night God would use a loving child’s simple request, to capture a man’s heart.  It happened when Al was putting his 4-year-old son, Troy, to bed.

Al said, “He puts a kiss on my cheek and he says, "dad, it's just you and I. Can I hear how you pray to God when you're alone with him?"  It tore me up. I got up, I did not know what to say.”  

Finally, Al opened up his heart to Jesus Christ.

“I got up, I walked into the bathroom and I cried like a baby,” said Al. “ And it was at that moment in time that I knew, all the barriers were gone.”

The brothers would go on to sell their business in 1998, and launch a new show called, Angling Edge. They’re still teaching people how to fish but more importantly how to know Jesus Christ.

Al said, “The Lord laid that on my heart to do this television show after we sold In-fisherman, do it and close, give me glory and honor with the truth of my word in the Bible, enclose something that I have done in your life.”  

Today, Ron and Al take a little more time for themselves and their wives. But taking up the slack are their children and grandchildren, carrying on the tradition of sharing their passion for fishing, and faith in Jesus Christ.

“It's been an amazing blessing and the glory goes to God in all categories, and He's still blessing the socks off about it,” said Al.

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