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.

Minnesota Fishing Museum

Minnesota Fishing Museum

Class of 2016

The idea of the Minnesota Fishing Museum began in 1990 after Al Baert attended a St. Cloud sports show to have a dealer appraise six lures that had been owned by his father. The appraiser took five lures, moved them aside and said they were junk and had the audacity to offer Al three dollars for the other. It was hardly a three dollar lure and Al knew that the old red and black wooden lure – a 1912 Surf Oreno, manufactured by the South Bend Bait Company was worth more than that. Holding that old wooden lure in his hand, he realized it was not the value that was so meaningful, but rather the wonderful stories and memories it represented. Al went home and told his wife Jean that he didn’t just want to have a collection, he wanted to start a fishing museum.

Al contacted his long-time friend Morry Sauve. Al and Morry made the rounds to nearly every VFW and American Legion Hall seeking donations as they felt that the world war veterans had some of the oldest and most interesting lures, motors and other fishing items. By 1995, Al’s basement looked like a 1940’s tackle shop! it became evident it was time to find a permanent home for a fishing museum. Al and Morry scouted many towns across the state before they decided on Little Falls. Al was familiar with the Little Falls area from his over 20 years working for the State of Minnesota as a District Director of the Civil Defense Directors in a 17-county area, including Morrison and Crow Wing counties. In 1998, the Little Falls City Council gave its unanimous support in having Little Falls as the home of the Minnesota Fishing Museum.  Al and Morry realized their eight years of hard work and dedication to their dream had just become a reality.

The museum is the home of a historical collection of over 10,000 artifacts which are beautifully displayed and maintained. One featured item includes one of the original three Larson Boats that were constructed from memory to be used as models after the company’s 1949 devastating fire. Another is a 1902 submersible electric motor, it is thought to be one of just eight or nine known in the world.  As an educational facility the museum displays go beyond history into the world of today. Visitors see Zebra Mussels and Eurasian Watermilfoil and begin to understand the impact these invasive species, and others, are having on our lakes and streams. Discussing water safety, both summer and winter, inspires confidence in getting out on the water. Seeing native sunfish, crappies, and bass in the aquarium eat their lunch of minnows familiarizes visitors with how fish respond to bait. Special programs are developed by museum staff for visiting groups to help them meet specific educational goals. The Minnesota Fishing Museum & Education Center fulfills a role that no other organization in Minnesota can. As a unique entity it deserves recognition by becoming enshrined in the Hall of Fame.