Three of Wisconsin’s ‘good ones’ gone

Dick Smith, center.

It’s not often when Wisconsin’s fishing industry loses an icon, but to lose three in one year is some really sad news.

Dick Smith, Lloyd Findling, and John Laimon all contributed to the fishing industry in many ways, whether introducing a new lure design or staying open from dawn to dusk to keep fresh bait on the hooks of eager anglers.

Dick Smith was the owner of Dick Smith’s Live Bait and Tackle in Delafield, one of the premier mom-and-pop bait shops that withstood the barrage of big-box stores opening around his turf.  Most people knew of the shop off Highways 83 and 94 as the “Smiley Face” barn until landlords of the rustic barn changed the color to brown a few years ago. While it was, and still is, known for having the best live bait in the business, the shop, now run by brother and sister Mike and Becky Smith, has niche baits that work well on the many lakes found throughout the Lake Country area. If you want a bait that is hot — they have it, or will order it for you before your next day on the water.

One thing’s for certain, when you asked Smith or his kids what was biting in the area, they all new what was what, and didn’t inflate the bite just to sell more minnows. Nope, if they were biting, they were biting and if they weren’t, well, they told you so.

Lloyd Findling

Lloyd Findling, of Dousman, was owner of Hi Fin Tackle and a fellow sport show owner, with his partner, Chuck Smalley, of Skimmer Bucktails. But Lloyd also attended more than his share of shows as a vendor.  He followed the sport show circuit all across the country with his wife, Lorraine, and his trusty golden retriever. If a show wouldn’t allow a dog, Lloyd simply wouldn’t exhibit. Findling had “been there and done that” for more years in the industry than most, and although he had a somewhat gruff exterior, he had a soft spot for kids and enjoyed getting them into the sport.

John Laimon

John Laimon had two shops on Pewaukee Lake, but was probably more known for Smokey’s Musky Shop — a legendary place of all things muskie, cigars, and a cold beer, if he knew you. As soon as a person set foot in his shop, history was inhaled, and stories were spun. A true historian of the sport and a dynamic fighter for keeping access open to area lakes, Laimon was a man who had a great laugh, and never feared talking about politics and providing his stance on the state of the union.

It’s sad that three men who have given so much to the fishing industry have made their final hookset, but if a person sits back and thinks about all the people they’ve touched in this sport we all love, a little bit of them will always be alive as long as future generations continue to cast a line.

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