Fishing One Generation to The Next

My dad was my first fishing guide.

By Steve Fernlund

Not that it was his career of course, he was a salesman, but he is the guy who taught me how to fish.
Life was simpler in the early 1960s. Fishing tackle was simpler too. Tackle boxes were smaller because there wasn’t much need to carry all the new lures that were coming online.
Lauri Rapala carved the world’s first floating minnow lure in Finland in 1936. It wasn’t until the early 1960s that he teamed up with Ray Ostrom to create the Normark Corporation, based in Minnetonka, MN, to import the Rapala line of lures and fishing related products.
A hook and bobber fisherman, Dad was a slow adapter to artificial minnows. When he was bringing me into the fishing circle, after fishing for bluegills with grandpa’s cane poles on the farm, it was Daredevils for Northerns and floating plugs for bass.

We fished from one of the old cedar strip boats that grandpa kept at the farm. It leaked like a sieve until the wood swelled enough to reduce leakage to a trickle. Powered with our five horsepower Johnson we never traveled far, but the old man still found us some fish–usually.

Fishing for us was all about food, so when we had our limit we quit for the day.
Dad always had the helm so I took the seat at the bow, facing rearward to see, not where we were going, but where we had been.
Dad had a steel fishing rod and a Shakespeare bait casting reel spooled with a braided line.
Backlashes were a rare occurrence and he’d casually hold the rod with one hand using the other to bail water with a coffee can, straighten his cap, and strike up his cigarettes. My Zebco starter kit with its fiberglass rod and closed spinning reel kept me in good stead.
We’d troll the daredevils, black and white or red and white depending on the decision of the oracle at the helm. I still don’t know if the fish gave a whit. We once hooked two pike on one lure. Quite the story on that day.
We’d cast the red and white floating lures in toward shore to hook the bass.
Whether other learning was intended or not, there were many lessons I took away from our days on the water besides how to change a lure and set a hook.

● Patience–nothing happens fast when fishing except the rush of “fish on.”
● Perseverance–”That’s why it’s called fishing and not catching,” he’d mumble.
● Paying attention–when I was bored, distracted, and looking elsewhere while trolling he’d grab my line and give it a tug. If I hadn’t had a good heart, who knows what would have happened.
● Appreciation of nature–taking a city kid out to see it first hand was his mission
● The great satisfaction of fried fish–Fresh Walleye, Northern Pike, Crappies and even bass make for the best meal after a morning, or day, of fishing.

The BWCA and surrounding area are great for some parent/child fishing excursions. Not only will your children learn a great deal about nature and themselves, spending this time with them on the water can only deepen and enhance your relationship.
The BWCAW is home to almost half of our state’s native fish species. The most common are Walleye, Northern Pike, Smallmouth Bass and Lake Trout. Your outfitter can help you make the wilderness experience a successful fishing experience as well. Whether you’re fishing for the first time or a seasoned veteran, the outfitters will give you a hook up on the water.