Fishing

Steve Quinn: The Scientific Angler

Fisheries biologist and veteran angler Steve Quinn retired this fall after 30 years at In-Fisherman. Submitted photo / In-Fisherman
Steve Quinn: The Scientific Angler

In-Fisherman senior editor Steve Quinn retired in the fall of 2018 after a 30-year career that changed the way many anglers think about fish and fishing.

BRAINERD, Minn. — Good scientists share a few personality traits. They tend to be curious. Solutions to most problems begin with an open and inquisitive mind. They are also observant, looking for truth instead of attempting to confirm a preconceived belief. And they are diligent. The scientific method necessarily follows a rigorous process of testing and evaluation.

Turns out, good anglers benefit from those same traits. And longtime In-Fisherman senior editor Steve Quinn embodies them all:

  • Curious: Quinn maintained what might be the largest fisheries research library outside of an academic office. He is just as fascinated by a research brief about cutlip minnows as walleyes or muskies.
  • Observant: Quinn routinely raised baby snapping turtles in an aquarium on his desk so he could watch them mature. His first love might be largemouth bass, but he is captivated by all forms of aquatic life.
  • Diligent: Some anglers keep a fishing journal, but Quinn records copious notes about every day he spends on the water. Like good science, good fishing requires frequent testing and evaluation.

Steve Quinn grew up in Manhattan and began fishing at age six during family trips to the Adirondack Mountains. His parents were English professors at Fordham University, and they afforded him and brother Tom the opportunity to explore whatever fisheries they could access by public transportation.

Then things got more serious. In 1975 Quinn read about a tournament on Oneida Lake organized by the fledgling New York Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) Federation. He competed in the event that summer, and met a growing group of like-minded anglers. Quinn continues to fish bass tournaments today.

Quinn earned a degree in English from Dickinson College and a graduate degree in fisheries biology from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst in 1982. After graduation, he accepted a job as a fishery biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The move not only expanded his field research, but also his fishing experience.

An interest in fish and fishing seemingly runs in the family. Quinn’s brother Tom earned a Ph.D. in fisheries at the University of Washington, where he now works as a professor of aquatic and fishery sciences. His work focuses on the ecology, behavior and conservation of salmon, trout and char in the Pacific Northwest and southwest Alaska.

In 1988, Quinn accepted an editorial position at In-Fisherman magazine based in Brainerd. He also served as the lead editor for the annual Bass Guide, co-host of the In-Fisherman TV and radio series and wrote and contributed to an extensive book series covering everything from bass to catfish to crappies. During the past three decades, Quinn has penned countless words that have helped anglers across North America catch more and bigger fish, and have more fun on the water.

Steve Quinn has spent his career teaching others how to catch more and bigger fish — and how to have more fun on the water. Submitted photo / In-Fisherman

Throughout his In-Fisherman tenure, Quinn also continued to make scientific contributions. He maintained his status as a Certified Fisheries Professional with the American Fisheries Association — the first editor of a fishing magazine to hold that credential. And he continued to write and collaborate on papers published in scientific journals.

Quinn has the unique ability to understand and synthesize the latest fisheries research then communicate that information in a way most anglers can understand. Over the course of his career, he has become a bridge between scientists and fishermen. Along the way he’s built deep relationships with readers, industry associates and co-workers.

In-Fisherman editor in chief Doug Stange said, “Steve brought new and unique perspectives to problems anglers faced, by bringing science to bear in conjunction with intense field research. That combination made In-Fisherman unique — honest and seasoned field perspectives tempered with the best science available. Steve was the heart and soul of that initiative.”

Quinn was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2016 as a legendary communicator. The induction ceremony was held at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) trade show in Orlando. His son Daniel, who works as field promotions manager for Rapala, attended the event along with hundreds of fellow fishing industry professionals.

Beyond his exceptional communications skills, co-workers and freelance contributors most appreciated Quinn’s endlessly positive demeanor. “Throughout his tenure here, he was a gentleman and a friend, a scholar of the sport we all love,” Stange said. “A steady hand in good times and bad, compassionate, good spirited and always there to help.”

Quinn plans to remain in Brainerd, where he will serve as a field editor for In-Fisherman. He also plans to spend more time on the water this season than ever before.

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