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Duane Peterson, left, and his brother John will be inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame March 31. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Bemidji's John, Duane Peterson to be inducted into Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame

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Judging by the introduction to the Andy Griffith show that debuted in 1960, sheriff Andy Taylor and his TV son Opie appeared to have life figured out.

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The two are pictured strolling down a country lane and resting on their shoulders were simple fishing poles with bobbers attached to the line.

They were in no hurry. Along the way Opie takes the time to skip a few stones into the still water. Andy stands in the background and smiles. There was good reason for that smile - Andy and Opie were headed to the fishing hole.

Mayberry, where the father and son lived, was a fictional town in North Carolina. But that scene, with a few modifications, could have been filmed during that same time frame in Bemidji. While Opie and Andy were strolling along the lane it was a good bet and John and Duane Peterson and their friends were on their bicycles, fishing poles, worms and a few hooks in the basket, heading to Lake Bemidji or the Mississippi River outlet.

For them, Bemidji was the perfect place to call home and no place felt like home more than a fishy looking spot on the side of Lake Bemidji.

"John and I grew up on Lake Avenue, two blocks from Lake Bemidji," Duane said. "The Mississippi River was a short bike ride from home and the lagoon just east of the bridge always had fish.

"Growing up in that area, with childhood buddies like Gordy and Norm Carlson, and John Melhus, we were able to develop a love of fishing," Duane said.

That love for hook and line never wavered, and eventually it matured into a passion for fishing and, more importantly, an urge to encourage others to fish.

That urge was the genesis of what would become Northland Tackle, a company founded by John in 1975. A few years later Duane would join his brother as Northland Tackle's chief financial officer and together the pair would transform a simple operation into one of the best-known and successful tackle companies in the business.

Because of the company's contributions to the industry and the personal success of John and Duane as anglers, the Peterson brothers are considered among the elite anglers in the country.

Bemidji and its people will forever know them as their friends John and Duane. Their contemporaries in the fishing world, however, will now know them as members of the Hall of Fame.

On March 31 in a ceremony at the Minneapolis Convention Center John and Duane will officially be inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as Legendary Anglers.

The Petersons will enter a Legendary Angler list that includes fellow Minnesotans Gary Roach, Babe Winkelman, Ron Weber, Ray Ostrom, Randy Amenrud, Ted Capra, Larry Dahlberg, Dan Gapen Sr., Bob Mehsikomer, Ted Takasaki, Nick Adams and Dave Genz.

"In the fishing industry this is the highest honor you can receive and it's humbling to think that of all the people in the industry we were chosen," John said.

"In northern Minnesota fishing is a heritage. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to get into fishing at such a young age and fortunate to be able to start and grow a business and make it work."

John Peterson constructed his first lure at the age of 19 and always had the urge to make his living in the fishing industry.

In 1975 he gave in to those urges and Northland Tackle was born.

Duane Peterson left a teaching job at International Falls to become the company's CFO and the combined talents of the brothers meshed perfectly.

The pair also followed one more precept that every successful business must adopt.

"We felt our way early in the business but what we always did was surround ourselves with good people," Duane said. "We have been fortunate to be able to rub elbows with the best fishermen in the Midwest and we continued to learn from them."

The Hall of Fame committee members were impressed with Northland Tackle but they looked at other accomplishments as well.

John Peterson's resume includes:

E Charter inductee of the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame (2000);

E National Professional Anglers Association lifetime honorary member (2010);

E Muskies Inc. International tournament champion (1975);

E Professional Walleye Trail tournament champion on Lake of the Woods (1996);

E Seven-time PWT Championship qualifier;

E Finished in the top-10 in 12 PWT events and was the PWT Sportsman of the Year (1999);

E Three-time Minnesota B.A.S.S. State Team qualifier;

E Guided Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich in the 1986 Governor's Fishing Opener;

E Guided professionally for many species.

Duane Peterson's Hall of Fame credentials, according to the committee members, include:

E Served on several DNR Fisheries advisory committees, including the Minnesota Walleye Advisory and the Upper Red Lake Management committees;

E Initial organizer and 25-year catalyst for Bemidji Area Take a Kid Fishing program that has taken nearly 5,000 kids fishing and serves as the model for all kids fishing programs;

E Contributed to hundreds of fishing articles and made many appearance on fishing television shows;

E A lifetime commitment to recruitment and education of fisher people of all ages, with an emphasis on the value and enjoyment of the entire fishing experience;

E National Professional Anglers Association lifetime honorary member (2010);

E Minnesota B.A.S.S. Federation champion (1976);

E Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic champion (2009).

"We have been very fortunate to have all of the support from Bemidji and everyone in the fishing fraternity," Duane said. "We are lucky. We were in the right place at the right time and we rode the wave.

"But we're far from done," Duane continued. "We want to continue to teach fishing through Take a Kid, through senior programs and through programs for the disadvantaged. Those programs are important to us."

The Peterson brothers have always had time for anyone who wanted to fish or learn about the sport. The soon-to-be Hall of Fame anglers will continue to offer that support.

If you see them and want to pick their brains, don't hesitate. They'll be easy to spot.

Just look for a couple of guys acting like Opie heading to the fishing hole with poles over their shoulders and a can of worms and a bucket of minnows at their side.

Judging by the introduction to the Andy Griffith show that debuted in 1960, sheriff Andy Taylor and his TV son Opie appeared to have life figured out.

The two are pictured strolling down a country lane and resting on their shoulders were simple fishing poles with bobbers attached to the line.

They were in no hurry. Along the way Opie takes the time to skip a few stones into the still water. Andy stands in the background and smiles. There was good reason for that smile - Andy and Opie were headed to the fishing hole.

Mayberry, where the father and son lived, was a fictional town in North Carolina. But that scene, with a few modifications, could have been filmed during that same time frame in Bemidji. While Opie and Andy were strolling along the lane it was a good bet and John and Duane Peterson and their friends were on their bicycles, fishing poles, worms and a few hooks in the basket, heading to Lake Bemidji or the Mississippi River outlet.

For them, Bemidji was the perfect place to call home and no place felt like home more than a fishy looking spot on the side of Lake Bemidji.

"John and I grew up on Lake Avenue, two blocks from Lake Bemidji," Duane said. "The Mississippi River was a short bike ride from home and the lagoon just east of the bridge always had fish.

"Growing up in that area, with childhood buddies like Gordy and Norm Carlson, and John Melhus, we were able to develop a love of fishing," Duane said.

That love for hook and line never wavered, and eventually it matured into a passion for fishing and, more importantly, an urge to encourage others to fish.

That urge was the genesis of what would become Northland Tackle, a company founded by John in 1975. A few years later Duane would join his brother as Northland Tackle's chief financial officer and together the pair would transform a simple operation into one of the best-known and successful tackle companies in the business.

Because of the company's contributions to the industry and the personal success of John and Duane as anglers, the Peterson brothers are considered among the elite anglers in the country.

Bemidji and its people will forever know them as their friends John and Duane. Their contemporaries in the fishing world, however, will now know them as members of the Hall of Fame.

On March 31 in a ceremony at the Minneapolis Convention Center John and Duane will officially be inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as Legendary Anglers.

The Petersons will enter a Legendary Angler list that includes fellow Minnesotans Gary Roach, Babe Winkelman, Ron Weber, Ray Ostrom, Randy Amenrud, Ted Capra, Larry Dahlberg, Dan Gapen Sr., Bob Mehsikomer, Ted Takasaki, Nick Adams and Dave Genz.

"In the fishing industry this is the highest honor you can receive and it's humbling to think that of all the people in the industry we were chosen," John said.

"In northern Minnesota fishing is a heritage. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to get into fishing at such a young age and fortunate to be able to start and grow a business and make it work."

John Peterson constructed his first lure at the age of 19 and always had the urge to make his living in the fishing industry.

In 1975 he gave in to those urges and Northland Tackle was born.

Duane Peterson left a teaching job at International Falls to become the company's CFO and the combined talents of the brothers meshed perfectly.

The pair also followed one more precept that every successful business must adopt.

"We felt our way early in the business but what we always did was surround ourselves with good people," Duane said. "We have been fortunate to be able to rub elbows with the best fishermen in the Midwest and we continued to learn from them."

The Hall of Fame committee members were impressed with Northland Tackle but they looked at other accomplishments as well.

John Peterson's resume includes:

- Charter inductee of the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame (2000);

- National Professional Anglers Association lifetime honorary member (2010);

- Muskies Inc. International tournament champion (1975);

- Professional Walleye Trail tournament champion on Lake of the Woods (1996);

- Seven-time PWT Championship qualifier;

- Finished in the top-10 in 12 PWT events and was the PWT Sportsman of the Year (1999);

- Three-time Minnesota B.A.S.S. State Team qualifier;

- Guided Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich in the 1986 Governor's Fishing Opener;

- Guided professionally for many species.

Duane Peterson's Hall of Fame credentials, according to the committee members, include:

- Served on several DNR Fisheries advisory committees, including the Minnesota Walleye Advisory and the Upper Red Lake Management committees;

- Initial organizer and 25-year catalyst for Bemidji Area Take a Kid Fishing program that has taken nearly 5,000 kids fishing and serves as the model for all kids fishing programs;

- Contributed to hundreds of fishing articles and made many appearance on fishing television shows;

- A lifetime commitment to recruitment and education of fisher people of all ages, with an emphasis on the value and enjoyment of the entire fishing experience;

- National Professional Anglers Association lifetime honorary member (2010);

- Minnesota B.A.S.S. Federation champion (1976);

- Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic champion (2009).

"We have been very fortunate to have all of the support from Bemidji and everyone in the fishing fraternity," Duane said. "We are lucky. We were in the right place at the right time and we rode the wave.

"But we're far from done," Duane continued. "We want to continue to teach fishing through Take a Kid, through senior programs and through programs for the disadvantaged. Those programs are important to us."

The Peterson brothers have always had time for anyone who wanted to fish or learn about the sport. The soon-to-be Hall of Fame anglers will continue to offer that support.

If you see them and want to pick their brains, don't hesitate. They'll be easy to spot.

Just look for a couple of guys acting like Opie heading to the fishing hole with poles over their shoulders and a can of worms and a bucket of minnows at their side.

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