Those We Honor

You’ll find more than just fishing celebrities in this list. One can make a significant impact
on the lives of many without ever being well known. It is important to honor all of
those who had a great influence on the great sport of fishing, whether famous or not.
Corporate advances tend to be much more visible to us. For it’s their products that
shape the evolution of the sport of fishing.

Class of 2023

In 1976, Russ Francisco opened a sailboat hardware shop on London Road catering to the traffic heading up the shore and to inland lakes. He kept busy selling rope, pulleys, swivels, gaskets, lanyards, O-rings and D-rings to keep the sailboats seaworthy. That was enough for him but the customers who stopped asked for live bait, fishing tackle, power boat hardware, boat seats, anchors, boat paint, electronics… What was started in a basement of a building has transformed into what Marine General is today, The Fishing Headquarters specializing in Great Lakes fishing & shipping products all over the US and other countries. Marine General is more than just fishing, it carries a great selection of electronics, marine products, clothing for both open and hard water fishing, and so much more. Russ has watched the industry thrive, struggle, and change many times and he has been able to adapt to the changes keeping his business alive over the last 46 years. One thing that has given Marine General and Russ an edge over the competition is his staff who shares his passion for the industry. The employees are all people who boat or fish. They love to share their knowledge and tips with anyone looking for advice. Russ is very active in the business and the training of his staff. If you know him or have been to his store you know he is always there unless he is making a warehouse run.
Russ has become the source for information not only for his local customers, but he has consulted with countless manufacturers on the development of new products, most recently he was flown down to Florida to test and provide feedback on the newer style kayaks featuring trolling motors and autopilot. He has been interviewed and invited to speak in various fishing magazines and podcasts along with being the go-to source in Duluth by many news stations for information on what is happening with the current season. He is regularly featured on the local news for various topics including giving safety information for open and frozen water, how to get your boats ready for spring and put away for fall, what people are fishing for and how to get out and fish if you don’t have a boat. Russ also gives back to the community of boaters and anglers that support his business by supporting organizations who educate the public in boating safety, such as the Duluth Power Squadron or specific fisheries such as the Twin Ports Walleye Association, Steelhead Association, Lake Superior Muskies Inc. or the Western Lake Superior Trollers Association, just to name a few.
Russ’s passion for the fishing industry goes far beyond his store and selling products. He has been a major sponsor for countless fishing contests and for fishing leagues donating both products, but also offering his knowledge he has gained over the last 46 years. He has given countless hours of his time to consult with people and groups on how to make their events and the industry thrive. However, those who know him well know his true love is getting kids active in the fishing industry. Seeing young kids in his store excited to be going out fishing or seeing them out standing on a dock with a pole in hand is what brings him joy.