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Steve Baumann, owner of Vexilar Inc., and Duane and John Peterson, founders of Northland Fishing Tackle were all honored by the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame last weekend at the Northwest Sportshow in Minneapolis for their substantial contributions to the fishing industry. (Submitted photo)

Bemidjians get Hall of Fame honors

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Three Minnesotans have exceeded the bar and were inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

The three people, who many Minnesotans have met in the past, are Steve Baumann, the owner of Vexilar Inc., and John and Duane Peterson of Northland Fishing Tackle centered in Bemidji.

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Baumann was enshrined into the Hall of Fame for his efforts in technology. Baumann started working for Vexilar in 1977 as a technician. In 1979 Vexilar went bankrupt and the only employees retained throughout the rebuilding process were Baumann and fellow engineer Skip Christman.

In 1986, Vexilar once again appeared to be on the brink of bankruptcy so Baumann and Christman purchased Vexilar. In 1995 Skip Christman died unexpectedly, leaving management of Vexilar Inc. to Baumann.

At the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame induction ceremony last weekend, Baumann highlighted some interesting developments over the past 40 years. Keep in mind that four decades ago, the most accurate sonar on the market was a paper graph. They are rarely seen in use anymore and aren't available (unless used) for purchase.

Baumann held up a tube from a Cathode Ray Tube sonar. The tube, much like what was inside of a television didn't function efficiently. The bulbs had two switches meant for processing.

Today, many sonar's have a micro-chip that is dramatically smaller compared to the cathode ray tube and has over one million switches, translating into over one million times the capacity and performance versus the old cathode ray units.

Today LCD electronics have finally caught up to the accurate performance and display of the antiquated paper-graph, but with an LCD display. No more boxes of paper, ink, flimsy sketching arms that bend and have to be re-bent. The same precision on the display of a paper graph is finally available today in the form of a Liquid Crystal Display.

Baumann expressed his enthusiasm for the developments that are anticipated over the next 40 years.

Two other Minnesota natives, John and Duane Peterson also from Bemidji, were inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as legendary anglers. The two brothers join other legends such as Roland Martin, Hank Parker, Gary Roach, Kevin VanDam and Bill Dance.

The Peterson brothers started fishing together at a fairly young age. Most days the boys could be found standing on the banks of the Mississippi catching perch or the occasional walleye. The two fished as much as they could, though it was big-brother Duane who introduced John to the world of angling. .

"Our dad didn't fish", stated John Peterson during his National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame acceptance speech.

John and Duane started Northland Fishing Tackle in 1983. John admitted to Duane that they weren't smarter than the competition, but they were willing to work harder. And that's exactly what the Petersons did.

Today, Northland Fishing Tackle employs around 150 workers in the towns of Bemidji and Ranier.

Congratulations to Baumann and the Petersons. Your efforts have changed the world of angling.

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