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.

Steve Baumann

Steve Baumann

Inducted 2004

Steve Baumann was born in 1952. He was one of four kids living near a little farming community called Westbrook in southwestern Minnesota. Steve was bitten by an encephalitis-carrying mosquito when he was only three weeks old, and was 2 ½ years old before he could walk. With his first steps, he beamed his inspiring smile to his mother and father and it became a trademark of a man who would never want to be looked at any differently than any other because of his disability.

His mother told a story about her son Steve. “He was only eight years old, and had his legs in a cast after one of his many operations, I still remember Steve in his wheel chair chasing frogs in the front yard to use for bait. That boy sure loved to fish.”

Lakes like Hurricane, Sarah, Shatek and the creek just down from the Baumann Farm were common destinations for Steve who became almost legendary for catching bullheads. He would use a scooter to zip around the country roads.

After high school, Steve went on to attend Southwest State University in Marshall and gained a degree in mechanical engineering. But while in school, he started working for a company in Marshall making “fish finders” called Vexilar.

Anyone who has worked with Steve, will tell you he is a man with passions. A passion for family, fishing, hunting, baseball and of course his lovely wife Robin.
It was 1977 when Steve started working for Vexilar in the Twin Cities. His hard work ethic as a service technician and love for fishing set his future in stone. Even after getting a big buck offer to work for 3M in Hutchinson, he turned it down to continue working with Vexilar.

While the Vexilar company experienced its ups and downs in the business world, Steve Baumann’s ideas for helping fishermen with better electronics started to shine through. Steve would commonly say: “People were amazed that a bullhead fishing expert like me would know anything about electronics, so I started to fish bluegills and crappie.”

When Vexilar went bankrupt in 1979, Steve and fellow technician Skip Christman were the only employees that the company kept during the re-organization period. But in 1986, it looked like Vexilar was going down for the count. Again making a great decision, Steve and Skip bought Vexilar and began one of the best success stories in the marine electronics industry.

It was Steve Baumann who designed the first digital fish scale for Rapala. He was also the one who saw a small sonar unit called the FL-8 that had been marketed unsuccessfully by FOUR other companies and knew it had a home here in Minnesota.

After the untimely death of his long time friend and business partner Skip Christman in 1995, Steve was faced with another big challenge. He had always liked being the guy working away in the back room, never saying much, just getting the job done.

Now, the kid from southwest Minnesota who loved to fish bullheads every Sunday after church would take complete control of Vexilar. Steve is no stranger to hard work and challenges. He knew it would not be easy to learn how to run a company. He discovered the often boring aspects of accounting and legal paperwork, but he set a vision for where he wanted Vexilar to go.