Guest Opinion: Sounds fishy - but it ain't

The story you are about to read really happened. Nothing has been changed to protect the stupid. It happened to me in 1978 shortly after I moved my family back to Minnesota after a 20-year absence.

The story you are about to read really happened. Nothing has been changed to protect the stupid. It happened to me in 1978 shortly after I moved my family back to Minnesota after a 20-year absence.

We built a home in the Tall Timbers area on Gull Lake. The homes there surround a little block long lake called Thor Lake. Thor connects to Gull Lake through a navigable channel and is not subject to the wave action of Gull. This is important to my story, as you'll soon read.

Our first fishing opener had arrived and to get into the swing of things, my 8-year-old son Scott and I had made plans to "slaughter the walleyes". We used a 14-foot fishing boat with a 9.9 horse motor, 2 rods, a minnow bucket, tackle box and 2 life jackets, and we had the boat loaded and in the water and ready to roll at 5:30 a.m.

After a quick breakfast, we piled into the boat, pulled in the minnows, pulled the starting rope, and heard the engine roar on the first pull. We were all smiles until I noticed the starting rope did not recoil. No amount of fiddling could get it to work. It was obvious this would have to be fixed before we could go out on the lake.

We took the motor off, loaded it into the trunk and drove to Martins Marina on Nisswa Lake. It was 6 a.m. and Martins didn't open until 8 a.m.We had no choice but to wait. Once Martins opened, they gave our motor first priority and had us on our way in half an hour. We got back home and I unloaded the motor, carrying it on to my floating dock, and stepped into the boat. Unfortunately the dock moved, the boat moved and I had to make a quick step to keep from falling. When I stepped down I heard a snap, I had broken off the tip of my rod, and we had no spare. I put the motor back on, got in the car and drove back up to the store and bought another rod. We returned home, rigged up the new rod and I told Scott to bring in the minnow bucket. He said, "I don't have to Dad, it's already in the boat." We had forgotten to put it in the water again and of course, most of the minnows were belly up. Taking a deep breath, we got in the car and drove back to the store for more minnows.


As we were returning home with the fresh minnows, my heart sank when I saw our fishing boat had drifted away from the dock and was now floating in the middle of Thor Lake. In my haste to get a new rod, I had not tied the boat up securely and was now paying the price. So how was I to get it? Thor is a weedy lake and not suitable for swimming so that was out. None of the neighbors were around yet but I did notice a styrofoam tanning raft (shaped like a surfboard) on the neighbor's lot next door. Following the theory that it's "any port in a storm" I changed into my bathing suit, borrowed the raft and lying on the board, paddled out to the boat and retrieved it.

I changed back into my fishing clothes and we were finally ready to go, so I told Scott to pull in the minnows. He said, "I can't find them Dad." We looked around for them and there they were sitting on the dock. We had just set them down when we were retrieving the boat. Yes, all the minnows were floating, so it was back in the car for more minnows.

We finally got out on the lake, fished all day, didn't get a bite, returned home, dumped our minnows, and had a peanut butter sandwich instead of a fish fry.

Take heart all you dads and moms out there who want to give their kids the fishing experience. After what he went through that day, my son Scott still likes fishing, so it seems no matter how bad you screw up that first experience, something is triggered in kids to make them want to try it again.

Good luck!

Joe Lanz is an 80-year-old Nisswa resident and local "fishing expert."

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