Fred Trost, longtime host of the popular hunting and fishing show, "Michigan Outdoors," died Wednesday.
Trost, 61, of Lansing, died of a rare lung condition after spending several weeks in Sparrow Hospital and the University of Michigan Medical Center, said his son, Zachary Trost of East Lansing.
"I've had people come up to me over the past few weeks and say, ‘I learned fishing from your father,' ‘I learned how to skin a fish from your father,' ‘Your father made me passionate about the outdoors,'" Zachary Trost said.
He said his dad could be controversial at times.
"He always said what was on his mind and he didn't care who he upset if he was passionate about something," he said.
Fred Trost was the longtime host and producer of "Michigan Outdoors," a show focused on hunting and fishing and broadcast on public television across the state, until legal troubles led to his departure from the program in 1992.
A Stanton-based company won a $4 million judgment against him after he did an investigative series questioning the ingredients and effectiveness of deer scent lures sold by it and other companies.
About a month later, Trost began broadcasting another show, "Practical Sportsman," also on public television. His studio was in the basement of the now-defunct Fred Trost's Museum of Outdoor Collectibles in Bath.
"He was a big deal," said Tony Hansen, editor of Michigan Out-of-Doors Magazine. "He was the first outdoor media star. Kind of a larger-than-life personality."
Tom Huggler, an outdoor writer who said he has known Trost for about 30 years, called him "a giant in the outdoors."
"It's a loss, and I feel deeply for his family and for his followers," he said.
Huggler said he and Trost first met in the 1970s when Trost produced the show "Bowling for Dollars" in Flint.
In recent years, they lost touch with each other.
"Our careers went down different paths," Huggler said. "Fred was very controversial, and he could be divisive. (But) I had to admire his ability to captivate his audience."
Bill Yoder, also an outdoorsman, said he's known Trost since about 1990.
"We just hit it right off because we're both kind of crazy," he said, while describing pranks the two have played. "Just like kids."
Yoder said Trost was a good friend, one who visited him in the hospital when he was ill.
"He'd call me every day, or else come and see me every day," Yoder said. "He'd do anything for you, or help you any way you could."
In the late 1990s, while still working on "Practical Sportsman," Fred Trost enrolled in Cooley Law School, graduating cum laude with a law degree, his son said. Trost stopped production of "Practical Sportsman" in 2005.
Zachary Trost said the family is working to set up a memorial service for his father.
"He wanted to and did make a difference in this state," he said of his dad. "He loved being outdoors."
Contact Seth Roy at 377-1206 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Reporter Kathleen Lavey also contributed to this report. Contact her at email@example.com or 377-1251.
By Seth Roy, The Lansing State Journal