For as long as Kolt Ringer can remember, two passions have fueled his family’s existence: business and fishing. “I grew up casting for crappies and anything that would bite from the docks around Lake Minnetonka,” recalls Ringer, an ex-fishing guide and current director of competitive youth fishing in Minnesota. “In all those years, I’ve never lost that hunger for fishing, or that intense curiosity to know what’s happening below the surface.”
Recently, the easygoing angler-businessman took the next step toward bringing his two passions together, acquiring Crosslake, Minnesota based Aqua-Vu Underwater Viewing Systems. “An Aqua-Vu is the one fish-finding tool that anglers of any age or skill level can immediately use and understand. Nothing keeps my kids interested in fishing like an Aqua-Vu in the boat or our ice fishing shelter. My family and I couldn’t be more excited to be the owners of this legacy fishing company, and to continue to cultivate and grow the Aqua-Vu brand.”
Now in its fourth generation, the Ringer family business began in 1926. “My great grandfather started a modest saw sharpening business and grew it into a highly successful multifaceted company. “Over the years, I’ve pretty much worked in every capacity, from sales and customer service to employee training, marketing and the mail room,” Ringer chuckles. For the past decade, he has served on the board of directors for Foley Belsaw, based in Wayzata, MN.
Ringer cites Aqua-Vu’s recent growth in the bass fishing market and its continued leadership in ice fishing as primary reasons for the acquisition. He also notes that Aqua-Vu headquarters will remain at their present location in Crosslake, MN, with all company personal retaining their current positions. Aqua-Vu president and previous co-owner Ben Gibbs will move into a consulting role.
“Since the company’s inception over twenty years ago, Aqua-Vu has always been known for innovation— the people who invented the underwater viewing category,” Ringer said. “Aqua-Vu’s reputation stands alone as the category leader, known for engineering inventive, top-quality underwater viewing products and technologies. They’ve always excelled at standing behind their products by assuring a high-level customer experience. That certainly won’t change.
“Aqua-Vu has built its business by becoming a leader in the burgeoning ice fishing market,” adds Ringer. “But we’ve also seen major growth opportunities in the bass, saltwater and kayak arenas. Every season, we’re seeing more and more tournament bass anglers relying on Aqua-Vu cameras to find fish during prefishing. We’re exploring ways to creatively serve other outdoors adventurers, too, such as recreational boaters and gold prospectors in Alaska.”
As a former fishing guide and President of the Student Angler Tournament Trail of Minnesota, Ringer is anxious to expand on the obvious connection between young anglers and underwater viewing. “Kids today have been brought up in the ‘screen generation,’” he says. “There’s no better learning tool for a young angler than an underwater camera. A depthfinder can only show you so much, but put an Aqua-Vu in front of a kid and watch them light up. It’s pure enjoyment, but also a great way to help these future anglers learn fish behaviors and how they react to lures.”
In the coming months, Ringer says Aqua-Vu will be working to develop new programs for youth fishing. “Ultimately, we’d love to see an Aqua-Vu in the boat of every boat captain, starting right here in Minnesota. In the meantime, it’s business as usual at Aqua-Vu. It’s shaping up to be an awesome ice fishing season. People we talk to every day are excited, energized to get out there and watch what the fish do next.”