If you're going to spend 25 years on television, you can't fake enthusiasm, and you can't pretend to be something you're not.
That's why, through all those years, a natural bond developed between Babe Winkelman and the people who watch him fish and hunt on TV.
As the host of "Good Fishing" and "Outdoor Secrets," seen throughout North America on both broadcast and cable stations, Babe has succeeded in fulfilling his dream of being self-employed in the outdoors industry through a combination of hard work, good business instincts, and a gift for communicating his love of hunting and fishing.
" Viewers identify with him," says longtime friend and fellow fishing pro Spence Petros, "because he seems like the kind of guy you'd like to spend the day in the boat with, or out stalking deer with. That's because he is that kind of guy; he's intense and focused on what he's doing, but inside him is a love and respect for nature that shines through in everything he does."
Most people know Babe Winkelman as a world-class fisherman, in a boat or a pair of waders, always excited to be outdoors. His enthusiasm is amazing, when you consider he's outdoors as often as most of us are sitting at our desks, and he's been at it so many years you'd think a bit of the wonder would wear away.
But it hasn't, and it shows on television.
For Babe, fishing began at the age of six, along tiny Stoney Brook which ran through his family's farm in central Minnesota. He remembers the creek seemed so big to him at the time, a kid after adventure, and anything that would bite.
It's been many years, and Stoney Brook does not even appear on the huge map of North America that now hangs in his office. But Babe's passion for the outdoors hasn't changed a bit: he still goes fishing because he loves it, and still chases any species willing to bite. There is no way to count the big fish he's caught, and yet a small fish on the end of his line still brings out that kid staring into Stoney Brook.
He is often called "America's Most Versatile Fisherman," although he may be best known for his prowess at catching walleyes, a fish he was drawn to as a youngster, on lakes near his parents' cabin in northern Minnesota.
Babe spent years guiding, and fished in competitive tournaments beginning in 1970. He co-founded the Minnesota Bass Federation, serving as its president in the early years. He also co-founded the Masters Walleye Circuit (MWC), emceed its early events, and has fished competitively for walleyes, bass, muskies, crappies, and other species.
The public knows Babe as a fisherman because he has been at it full-time, since 1975, and began appearing on TV back in 1978 on commercials for Deepwoods OFF. In 1980 he started producing television on his own.
Millions of us love to fish, but few are naturally gifted, called to it--driven by it--like Babe Winkelman is. Finding a way to catch fish as seasons and conditions and locations change just seems to come naturally to him, through a mind that learns quickly and eyes that have pretty much seen it all.
Finding a way to explain how he did it, in a manner inviting and easy to understand, is another natural gift the Lord gave Babe. The combination makes him the ideal spokesman for anglers everywhere.