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.

Ray Ostrom

Ray Ostrom

Inducted 2000

Ray Ostrom (1927-2012) is a giant in Minnesota fishing tackle history. Together with business partner Ron Weber, Ray and Ron were the co-founders of Normark Inc. and are the reason Rapala lures are in virtually every tackle box in the world today.

The story began when Ron Weber, a fishing tackle rep, went to Canada and had a chance to fish with a new “Finlander Plug” with great success. It was a Rapala. He told his friend Ray Ostrom about the bait and showed him a couple that he was able to find for sale in Duluth. Ray owned Ostrom’s Marine and Sporting Goods in Minneapolis at the time.

They fished with Rapalas together for the first time on Lake Mille Lacs in 1959. The lure’s effectiveness on walleyes was amazing. So amazing that Ray and Ron decided to try and market the lures in the United States.

The two friends sent a letter to Lauri Rapala in Finland in September, 1959 stating their intent to sell and distribute Rapala lures, and placed their first order for 1,000 Rapalas. One year later they ordered 2,400. During the period between 1960-1961, that number multiplied to 31,135 lures. Then, according to a contract signed between their company and Lauri Rapala & Sons, Weber and Ostrom agreed to buy as many lures as Rapala could produce — up to 300,000 lures against their written orders for 1962 and 1963.

In August of 1962, the Lauri Rapala story appeared in LIFE magazine in an issue featuring Marilyn Monroe’s life following her death. Public demand for Rapala lures skyrocketed and sacks of letters arrived for Ostrom and Weber each day. “In no time at all we had orders for about three million pieces,” they said. The rest is history.

Ray Ostrom was born in Minneapolis to Swedish immigrant parents. He married his wife Norma in 1948. She passed away shortly before he did. Ray loved hunting and fishing, which he did with great enthusiasm until his health no longer allowed it. His contributions to Minnesota fishing will live on as long as people continue to catch fish on Rapalas, which will never end.