The frozen surfaces are covered with good anglers – amongst many great anglers, too. But rare is the hardwater thinker who truly leaves a mark on the sport; impressions with open-minded anglers who crave information. Freshwater Fishing Hall of Famer Tom Neustrom is one of those characters. As readily as the Chicago native and Grand Rapids, Minn. resident will conceive a novel fishing technique by the fireplace at night – then prove it out the next morning – he’ll share those insights, successes, even failures, and all for the sake of bettering one’s game.
Neustrom isn’t shy on documentable, historical contributions to freshwater angling, either. For over 30-years he’s shared boats and ice fishing shacks with his great friend and renaissance angler Al Lindner. From before the In-Fisherman days, to a phone conversation just an hour ago, lifelong brothers Neustrom and Lindner share intel and collectively devise innovative means for improving everyone’s catch.
And like Lindner, Neustrom’s career is built upon an ideology of educating. Whether offering up a vital tip to a stranger at the boat landing or getting ultra-technical with crankbait diving curves at a public seminar, Neustrom is a giver. “My goal isn’t to take what I’ve learned to the grave – there are enough of those guys out there.
“I’m fortunate to fish for a living. So at every given chance I share what I’ve learned with anglers who can’t be out there every day. I want them to get on fish and enjoy the sport whether that’s for a long weekend or just a couple of hours after work.”
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) acknowledges Neustrom as one of the top walleye fisheries experts in the nation, too. Not a single DNR roundtable session – each aimed at improving the state’s walleye fishing – goes on without considering Neustrom’s sagely opinions.
Neustrom – a gray bearded pro staffer for Rapala, VMC and Sufix – also holds the position of Vice President with the National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA). The organization values Neustrom’s wisdom and experience in the fishing industry and appreciates that he generously offers advice and share’s real life examples with its membership, Neustrom’s peers.
Another historical nugget: Neustrom, along with “Mr. Walleye” Gary Roach, were StrikeMaster Auger’s very first product endorsees. And Neustrom’s admiration for the brand’s engineering prowess continues today. “StrikeMaster has a lot of ‘industry firsts’ in auger manufacturing, but this new Lazer Synthetic Ultra Light might top them all. It’s fastest, lightest, most amazing hand auger ever. Gets me thinking about first ice.”
Neustrom started as a Windy City cop, became a respected Itasca County Sheriff, and now fishes his way into the sunset. And that sun is going to hang on the horizon line for quite awhile yet.
“There are a lot of techniques yet to conceive and anglers to share them with. I’m not going away anytime soon.” And for that, ice fishing is grateful.
Image courtesy Traditions Media/Rapala