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.

Frankie’s Live Bait & Marine

Frankie’s Live Bait & Marine

Class of 2016

Forty years ago, Frank Dusenka – Brad and Frankie’s father – bought a hardware business from his father-in-law on the edge of Chisago City in the hopes of making a living selling nuts, bolts and hammers. His mistake was giving his two fishing-fanatic sons a project. He turned over a little corner of Chisago Hardware to their bait-selling enterprise. “I was 12, and Brad was 8,” said Frankie Dusenka, “We loved trapping bait, so we’d be here at 4 a.m., selling minnows. My dad said if it didn’t work, he’d put hardware back in that spot.” That never happened. Four generations of Dusenkas and their extended family have turned Frankie’s Live Bait and Marine into a Minnesota fishing institution. In an era of big-box sporting-goods retailers, Frankie’s embraces a laid-back atmosphere with this motto: “Fishermen selling to fishermen.”

The bait and fishing tackle business grew, and the Dusenka family added boats to the mix in 1971.  In 2007, Frankie’s became the world’s largest dealer of Ranger boats, the sleek, fiberglass craft made in Flippin, Ark.  Frankie’s, the marine dealership, also sold aluminum boats, but when Frankie, the respected bass angler, began touting the benefits of fiberglass boats – a smoother, faster ride – die-hard fishermen listened to him. The shop started with the Wisconsin-based Skeeter boat line in the early 1980s, picked up Ranger in 1993 and spent years as the No. 2 and No. 3 Ranger dealer in the nation, often behind Dixie Marine in Ohio. Frankie recalled a piece of his father’s advice: “Always take care of your customers. It’s too expensive to look for new ones.”