|Known for||Television Producer, Host of Good Fishing and Outdoor Secrets television shows|
|Home town||Duelm, Minnesota|
|Children||Amanda; Jasmine; Donielle; Mackenzie; Karlee|
Babe Winkelman has built a Minnesota based Outdoor Empire with the largest fishing television series "Good Fishing" that debuted in 1980 and the largest series on Hunting, "Outdoor Secrets" that debuted in 1988, Social and Digital Platforms, educational books, videos, and several lines of Winkelman branded product that’s marketed internationally. His programs are watched by tens of millions of loyal fans annually. The programs air nationally on a variety of networks.
Babe Winkelman grew up on a dairy farm near the small town of Duelm, Minnesota, He learned the value of hard work through his labors on the family farm. He started fishing at age 6 on Stoney Brook, a stream that ran through the family farm. After starting fishing he was on the creek every waking hour that he wasn't doing farm work. It was there that he started to understand how fish moved around through the seasons and there that his "Pattern Approach" to fishing got its roots. Pheasants and Huns were abundant on the farm as well and his hunting career started there with his first pheasant kill at age 8. Deer hunting started as a driver at age 10 and he shot his first buck at age 12. For what ever reason young Babe (nicknamed by his father after Babe Ruth) fell in love with every phase of understanding how all aspects of nature worked, in constant contact with the natural processes of life and death, and the cycles of nature. Through endless hours of hunting and fishing, he polished his skills. During the 1960s, every possible moment was spent at the family cabin on Hay Lake near Longville, where he taught himself refined his "pattern" approach to fishing that he continues to teach others today. He started working construction after graduating 8th grade and continued throughout high school learning the carpentry trade. His father was a master and Babe learned it well. Less than two months after graduating high school he became the youngest person in the history of Minnesota to get his journeyman's Union card. Nights were spent playing lead guitar and singing in bands. Like his father, music was in his bones. In May of 1969 he started Winkelman Building Corporation Inc. , a construction company, along with his brother Dennis and Father Don. In February of l970 Johnny Winters called him 3 times for him to go on world tour as lead guitarist for his band. He decided he couldn't leave his Dad and the construction business and his music career was to become a hobby he still practices to this day! By the time he was 25 the company had grown into 6 corporations with nearly 200 employees, but he decided that money was not the thing to strive for in life but rather lifestyle was and sold his interests to embark upon a full time career in the outdoors.
He started guiding fisherman in l965 and started fishing tournaments in l970. Even with all his business interests going on, every free minute was spent fishing, hunting and learning as much as he could from every source. In l973 he helped found the Minnesota State Bass Federation to get bass tournaments started and served as president for nearly 3 years. 1973 was also the year Babe started writing for outdoor publications and gave his first seminar to teach fishing. Upon starting in the outdoors full time in 75, Babe guided, fished tournaments, taught at seminars, did promotional work for Lindy/Little Joe tackle, became a field editor for Fishing Facts magazine writing for them and a host of other publications. In the last four decades he's penned scores articles and currently does syndicated columns twice monthly to nearly 20million subscribers through daily newspapers, tabloids and magazines. In l978 he was hired by SC Johnson to introduce a new product to America, "Deep Woods Off". The commercial was Babe, as a professional fisherman, needing a stronger insect repellent because of his outdoor endeavors. The product was an instant huge success fueled by TV commercials that saturated the country on nearly every television station in America during key programing like the nightly news, Movies etc. By the time the campaign finished in l982 everybody in the US knew who Babe was and he became THE instant fishing hero to the baby boomers. Good Fishing first hit the air waves in l980 and exploded in popularity. This prompted him to start Babe Winkelman Productions Inc. and set up his own studio. With a strong element on teaching and involving his entire family, he soon won the hearts of all outdoor enthusiasts. Stations used Babe's show as a lead out of key sports events because he could hold the audience. In one broadcast on Wkyc in Cleveland following the Browns championship game, he garnered an audience of 842,000 HH's per A.C. Nielsen!! The show kept growing in size and covered not only the US but Canada as well. His celebrity status soared and a feature was done on him in the Saturday evening Post in l987, another feature in People magazine in 1988 and scores of other newspaper and magazine articles, radio and TV appearances. Excerpts of Good Fishing appeared 3 times on Married with Children and about a dozen different movies. Babe was also a guest on the Donnie & Marie Osmound show! 1988 was also the year Babe produced his second television series, " Outdoor Secrets" which was the first hunting show that was on the air since l978. With stations like Superstation WGN and the USA network carrying both shows it too became an instant success. Today both programs air on a plethora of networks including NBC Sports, Destination America, The Pursuit Channel, Time Warner Cable, Comcast Cable, the A&G network, Wild TV in Canada and a few dozen local stations.
"I've always tried to help whenever I could, people or causes. For 10 years I did a fund raiser with Kent Hrbek from the Minnesota Twins for ALS and it became the single largest one day fund raiser for them in the country. In l992 the NFL called and asked me to join them as a celebrity for their Brian Piccolo Foundation. They would bring in the top 65 football players from various teams and the MVP of the year and these golf teams would bid on them as their celebrity 5th and raise money. I did the event for 7 years as the only celebrity who was not a football player and raised more money than anyone 6 of the 7 years at an NFL event. I do another benefit currently in Moorhead Minnesota for ALS and last year started a golf tournament for MS here in Brainerd. Babe spoke on behalf of President George Bush Jr and a presidential rally in Duluth MN. He asked me to do three others but I was already booked. Fall is hunting time!" said Mr Winkelman when asked about his humanitarian side.
In 1988 Babe was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. A few years later into the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame. In 1992 he was inducted into the Sports Legends Hall of Fame along side of Evander Holyfield for boxing, Pete Rose for Baseball and 30 other athletes from around the world. Babe is the only outdoors man ever to be inducted into this hall of fame. In 2007 he was given the Excellence in Craft award by the Outdoor Writers association of America(OWAA), their most prestigious award for his work with television. As a production company, they have won a couple of hundred awards for production excellence, 87 in a two year span alone! This included the New York Film Festival, the Houston International Film Festival (for a commercial) and about every type of award in production including Teddy's, Addy's, Golden Moose etc. In 2013 Babe and Kris were nominated by Ottertail County as Conservationist's of the Year for the state of Minnesota for all the work they have done at some land they bought for hunting with the whole family in 2002 and turned it into a paradise for all forms of wildlife.
Babe's lovely wife Kristeen has been by his side for 25 years and is his strength, inspiration, best friend and soul mate. Kris does a cooking feature"Kris's Kitchen" on every episode for both shows and is renowned as the most popular outdoor personality on cooking fish and wild game in the country. Babe has five children, Amanda, Jasmine, Donielle, Mackenzie and Karlee, and five grandchildren, Dylan (Amanda) Cayden and Paxton (Jasmine) Zaria and Mazon (Mackenzie) All girls fish actively and four hunt aggressively. We have a few hundred acres in western Minnesota we call the Ranch. All the kids and grand kids join in on the work through the year and all enjoy deer, turkey, grouse waterfowl, and predator hunting together. The family are all animal lovers. Last year in deer camp there were 11 dogs!
Working with the Community
Over the course of my career I have worked with local, national and multinational brands; but I've found I love to help and work with Midwestern Companies. I'd like to highlight a couple that I've been working with recently.
Everybody likes to eat right? We have something you'll want to try. We teamed up with Reichel foods, Minnesota, to create a line of Babe & Kris Winkelman food products. The first introduction is 4 fabulous flavors of breading and batter mixes for fish, chicken, veggies and wild game. This is an international license and the products are currently going into distribution in 22 countries, Canada, US, Mexico, Central America and all the Caribbean countries. Very healthy too, Gluten free, MSG free and Cholesterol free! But the taste is what will keep you coming back for more! Go to Reichelfoods.com to find a dealer near you.
For two years I worked with the Reel CleanLLC to develop a line of products called Babe Winkelman's "X-stink'd" Naturally Pure Cleaning Products. The entire line is 100% organic and will deep clean, deodorize and degrease anything we've tried them on. Yes, even skunk, propane, diesel fuel hog confinement operations. Food manufacturing, restaurants and really stinky animals. The thing that attracted me was the products being totally organic. I don't like the chemical world we live in and the X-stink'd line proves that for many, many industries, businesses and pet owners, they can eliminate chemicals for their cleaning, odor control and degreasing. This line will be available in the US and Canada. Go to Xstinkd.com for more information.
The third product line is also environmentally friendly and better than whats in the marketplace today. I 'm talking about Babe Winkelman's OX line of batteries, based out of Minneapolis. All are either Gel or AGM and sealed. Nothing to fill ever, no acid to leak out if the battery is tipped over and the Gel ones hold a charge like no other battery I've ever used. They will range in size from fish locator models to 1,000lb units for Solar collection and storage, including trolling motor models, car batteries, ATV batteries…even models for electric cars! This line will be available in the US and Canada.
Music has been a part of me since I was a kid and for a while I played six nights a week in bands. I still play and enjoy nothing more than getting a few guys together and jam, or sing with the kids. Pool is another hobby I've loved and had the good fortune to meet Jim Rempe in the 80's at an event in Nebraska. Jim holds more world titles than any other person in the history of pool and loved to fish. So I took him fishing and he tutored me at pool. I decided to see how good I could get. In 1992 the Superbowl was held in Minnesota and as a pre game event I played 7 of the top 10 players in the world and beat two of them. Playing 1 of the 10 while the other 9 watched was the most pressure I have ever felt in my life!! I started golfing after the NFL event and went after it with everything I could. I've had 3 hole-in-ones and my best score was 4 under par. Golf is the hardest thing I've ever tried to learn!
- Biography of Babe Winkelman
- Interview with Babe Winkelman - Gundogmag.com
- Karlee Winkelman participates in cancer benefit - mnbound.com