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.

Harry Van Doren

Harry Van Doren

Inducted 2019

Harry Van Doren — Pioneer Guide and Mentor to Angling Legends

Harry Van Doren began his nearly six decades of guiding at age 11, on the 1920 bass opener at Lake Edward, where his family homesteaded and built the lake’s first resort. Think vintage flat-bottom boats and rowing. Sounds old-fashioned, eh? But over the years, Harry Van Doren became well-known as one of Minnesota’s most innovative and influential anglers.

In Ray Gildow’s book, Legends & Legacies: A History of the Nisswa Guides’ League (Brainerd, Minn.: Evergreen Press, 2005), the chapter on Harry Van Doren notes that Harry had great influence on angling legends that worked as Nisswa Guides out of Marv Koep’s Nisswa Bait Shop — “He helped younger guys like Al Lindner, Bobby Collette, Ron Kristofferson, and others. Most of the guides have stories that involved Harry.”

Indeed. An impressive array of Minnesota angling greats rate Harry Van Doren (1909-1980) as an innovative standout angler and guide. A few examples of the countless testimonials about Hall-of-Fame-calibre Harry Van Doren:

• Mr. Walleye Gary Roach, legendary guide, angling pro, and Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame stalwart, stated in Ray Gildow’s book: “If there is one man I know from fishing that deserves to be in the Fishing Hall of Fame, it is Harry Van Doren. He was an unbelievable fisherman and many of the techniques we use today came from Harry.

• Al Lindner, co-founder of Lindys Tackle, In-Fisherman, Lindner Media, and surely Minnesota’s best-known angling personality: “Harry Van Doren belongs in the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame! He had a huge impact on the sport. He was super-innovative, even bringing methods and tricks he learned down south to Minnesota. His great influence touched many Minnesota angling lives.”

• Ron Lindner, who with brother Al came to Minnesota in the 1960s and got ultra-deep into many facets of the fishing industry, from tackle innovation to media breakthroughs. From “The Lindners Arrive and a New Legacy Begins” (Chapter six in Ray Gildow’s book): “Harry Van Doren built the first splashguards for his boat from rubber he’d salvaged from an elevator. Soon Al and other guides built splashguards on their boats so they could troll backwards” without taking on water over the transom.

• Marv Koep, legendary guide who made Marv Koep’s Nisswa Bait Shop and the Nisswa Guides League internationally known, was quoted in the Oct. 15, 1981 Brainerd Dispatch Heritage Section marking the paper’s 100th Anniversary. In a feature highlighting Harry Van Doren’s big influence on modern fishing gear and techniques, Marv said: “Harry taught me everything I know about walleye fishing. He could outfish everybody. When I was guiding, we might get busted, but Harry came in with limits.”

• Joe Fellegy, Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame angler and outdoor writer: “In chats with prominent anglers across the state when writing the book Classic Minnesota Fishing Stories (Waldman House Press, 1982), I was often told to include Harry Van Doren as one of the storytellers, which I did.”

• Royal Karels, longtime Brainerd-Nisswa area guide and member of the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame: “Harry was a real trailblazer — with outboard motors, depthfinders, splashguards and backtrolling, and knowing the whens and wheres of successful fishing. He was very supportive and helpful to young guides, putting us on the right spots with the best presentations. With Harry there was no bluster or baloney. Given his sense of humor and so much fishing experience, he was great to be around. One had to marvel at his coming in with limit after limit of walleyes.”

• Nick Adams, a founder of Lindy’s Tackle, key player in the fishing industry’s evolution, and 2001 inductee in the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame, quoted in Chapter 21 of Ray Gildow’s Legends and Legacies book: “I never saw anyone from the old school that could fish walleyes like Harry Van Doren. He had a knack for finding fish like no one I ever saw, until Al Lindner came along. I saw Harry on Gull Lake, anchored in about three feet, casting crankbaits into about 50 feet of water, catching fish suspended . . . years before anyone knew walleyes would suspend over deep water.” For Royal Karels, 2018 marks his 50th year in the guiding game. One of his bottom-line takes on that rich experience: “I guided with three standout legendary anglers — Al Lindner, Gary Roach, and yes, Harry Van Doren!” In her 1981 Brainerd Dispatch special-section feature about Harry, outdoor writer Carol A. Buckmann stated that “Harry Van Doren, one of this area’s best-known and best liked guides, had what other angling experts consider the biggest influence of anyone in northern Minnesota on the development and use of modern fishing equipment and techniques.”