Fishing Industry News: Drees New Mercury Marine President; American Baitworks Invests in Freedom Tackle

In the latest fishing industry news, Brunswick Corporation has promoted Christopher Drees to president of Mercury Marine and American Baitworks has purchased 50 percent of Freedom Tackle.

Fishing Industry News: Drees New Mercury Marine President; American Baitworks Invests in Freedom Tackle

Here is some of the latest news from the fishing industry:

Christopher Drees, previously the president of marine parts and accessories, is new new president of Mercury Marine following a promotion by Brunswick Corporation.

Drees succeeds John Pfeifer, left Brunswick to pursue opportunities outside the company. Drees will report to Brunswick chief executive officer David M. Foulkes. The appointment is effective immediately.

"Assuming the Mercury presidency is a natural progression for Chris,” Foulkes said. “He has spent more than 20 years with the company, distinguishing himself in a number of varied assignments and making a series of planned career moves to hone his skills and experience in preparation for this well-deserved role. Working alongside Mercury’s experienced and accomplished leadership team, Chris will continue building on the company’s momentum of innovation, market-leading products and superior quality and customer service.”

Drees joined Mercury Marine in 1998. During his first eight years held a variety of positions within the company, including roles in purchasing, sales and marketing, and as general manager of the Mercury propeller business. From 2006 through 2014, Drees led Mercury’s Attwood operations, first as chief operating officer and then as president.

In 2014, Drees was promoted to vice president of Mercury global operations, and during his tenure in the role Mercury made great strides in increasing the productivity and efficiency of its propulsion operations, according to Foulkes. In 2018, Drees assumed his role leading marine parts and accessories, where he was responsible for the integration of Power Products, Brunswick’s largest acquisition ever, into the P&A portfolio.

Drees earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, and an MBA from Marquette University.

American Baitworks Invests in Freedom Tackle

American Baitworks Co. has completed its investment of 50 percent ownership in Freedom Tackle Corporation, a leader and innovator in swing head action jigs, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and hardbody baits for bass, walleye, panfish and salmon fishing.

Freedom Tackle Corporation’s proprietary and patented removable hook system and customizable swing head technology has fueled the company’s growth and expansion.

“Since our first day in business, Freedom Tackle has been committed to advancing lure technology to create better fishing experiences as well as putting products into the hands of anglers of any skill level that flat out perform and catch fish.” said Michael Tamburro, co-founder of Freedom Tackle. “Now, leveraging the strength of American Baitworks Co. group of companies, Freedom can further our growth through product design and innovation.”

Through the deal, American Baitworks Co. will invest heavily in new product design and development, brand awareness, marketing and sales. Michael Tamburro has been named Senior Vice President of Innovation and Nick Tamburro has been named Senior Vice President, International with American Baitworks Co. Tom Chopin has been named Director of International Sales.

“We’re very excited to be a part of American Baitworks Co. Group of Companies and to work alongside NetBait Lures, Scum Frog and Halo Fishing to grow our collective brands,” said Nick Tamburro, co-founder of Freedom Tackle. “The entire team at American Baitworks is made up of passionate anglers with a commitment to making positive contributions to the sport we all love.”

Lew's, Strike King Scholarship Program Kicks Off

Previous efforts to support youth and grassroots fishing programs has sparked a new initiative from Lew's and Strike King, the Lew’s & Strike King Freshman Scholarship Program.

“Our new Freshman Scholarship Program is yet another way for our brands to give back to the sport we love. We recognize the important role that fishing has played in our lives and we feel an obligation to ensure that it gets passed on to our youth,” said Ken Eubanks, CEO of Lew’s Holding Company. “We’ve set up a fund that will award five deserving high school anglers a scholarship towards their freshman year of college. We are very excited to see the support and success of our brands translate into tangible support and success of youth fishing.”

The Freshman Scholarship Program will be awarded to five deserving high school anglers. These five anglers must complete an application that will be available on the Lew’s and Strike King websites. Joining in the effort is the Future Fisherman Foundation, which will assist with the screening and processing of all applications.

More information and the actual application can be found at and

Gill Taps CSI Canada for Representation

Gill North America is proud to announce the appointment Continental Sports Inc. (CSI Canada), which will represent Gill and specialize in direct sales, marketing and inventory management.

"CSI’s extensive experience and presence in the marketplace on a truly national basis will be instrumental in building our brand in Canada," said Colin Clark, Canadian National Sales Manager for Gill North America.

Continental Sports Inc. has been in business for more than 29 years and is an industry leader in providing quality fishing, hunting and sporting products on a wholesale level.

American Shad Discovered on Paulins Kill River

American Shad have been caught and sighted by anglers on the Paulins Kill River in New Jersey following the removal of a dam that blocked passage of the native species.

The 109-year old Columbia Lake Dam was removed as part of a reclamation project for the river, allowing for fish passage upstream. Although the shad are not legal to target or keep, anglers are reporting catching American Shad while trout fishing upstream of the of the former dam site. These catches indicate a successful reclamation of the American Shad's historic spawning run that had been blocked by the dam.

The dam was located 1/4-mile upstream of the Paulins Kill's confluence with the Delaware River. Through a successful collaboration between NJ Fish and Wildlife, The Nature ConservancyAmerican Rivers and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Columbia Lake Dam has been completely removed and fish passage has been restored reconnecting American Shad with their historic spawning run.

Shimano Varsity Program Scholarship Deadline Near

A key initiative to its Varsity Program focusing on high school and college age anglers, Shimano will again award more than $20,000 to graduating high school seniors and those already enrolled in undergrad and graduate programs. The scholarships are intended to provide needed financial assistance to future leaders in conservation, fisheries and wildlife sciences and management.

Now in its third year, “the goal with our scholarships is to encourage and support young anglers to pursue a college degree in fishery management, scientific research and related natural resource professions," said Phil Morlock, Vice President for Government Affairs/Advocacy for Shimano North American Fishing, Inc. “At Shimano, we understand the important role anglers have played as conservation leaders for well over a century. As B.A.S.S. members, we know these students have a first-hand appreciation for environmentally sustainable use and science-based management of natural resources. Where fishing happens, conservation happens.”

The Shimano/B.A.S.S. scholarship partnership is also intended to increase angler awareness of the critical decline in resource management professionals who fish within state, regional, provincial and federal agencies. The future of fishing will continue to rely on the combination of education, training and practical experience which this partnership encourages.

Shimano’s Varsity Program also helps young anglers learn about fishing tackle and techniques, provides industry networking opportunities at Shimano Career Seminar events. It also stresses the role anglers have in fishing conservation and advocacy.  

For studies beginning in fall 2019, Shimano will award up to 11 (eleven) $2,000 scholarships to U.S. and Canadian high school seniors, college undergraduate and graduate students who are members of B.A.S.S., and majoring in biology, fisheries, wildlife or a natural resource related field. Application deadline is May 31 – and is available here.

Successful applicants will be notified by July 1. The award is made directly to the student winner and can be used as needed for tuition, textbooks or living expenses.

For more information about on the ‘Shimano Varsity’ program, visit

Spohrer, Wiggins Join Quantum Pro Staff

Professional anglers Gerald Spohrer of Louisiana and Jesse Wiggins of Alabama have joined the Team Quantum pro staff.

“We selected Gerald and Jesse from the Major League Fishing tour because we identified them as strong upcoming talent in the avid bass fishing space," said Balay Hartman, Associate Brand Manager for The Zebco Brands." We feel they are both great additions to the team, and are excited to see what the future holds for Team Quantum.” 

Spohrer served in the military and later worked in chemical plants and refineries near his southern Louisiana home before starting his career as a full-time pro angler. He recorded an impressive three Top 10s in just two seasons as a Bassmaster Elite Series pro. Spohrer has carried that success into Major League Fishing, which expanded its tournament series this year. 

Wiggins, who also competes on the Major League Fishing circuit, traded a career as a respiratory therapist for a full time angling career. So far it's paid off, yielding $400,000 in prize earnings. It’s no secret that, arguably, few in the world are more effective than Wiggins with a shaky head worm.

“Everybody knows I love fishing a shaky head, and I always throw it with a Quantum Smoke S3 reel because it’s built with a unibody construction, so the gears stay perfectly aligned and smooth," Wiggins said. "Plus, it’s got an awesome drag for fighting big fish. The size 30 (reel) I use picks up 35 inches of line with each revolution of the handle."


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