LAKE VERMILION— With rain steadily pelting the lakeside tent at Fortune Bay Resort Casino on a recent Wednesday morning, Phil Bakken announced to the 40-plus kids in attendance that the 2023 …
LAKE VERMILION— With rain steadily pelting the lakeside tent at Fortune Bay Resort Casino on a recent Wednesday morning, Phil Bakken announced to the 40-plus kids in attendance that the 2023 Take A Kid Fishing (TAKF) event would not go off as planned.
But some of the kids and assembled guides had other ideas, and one lucky young man, Cass Nelson, who opted to join his guide out on the water came back with a real fish story and the photo to prove it— a 30-inch walleye, the largest ever caught during a TAKF event.
Those who did stay behind had plenty of fun, as well, learning a lot about the sport of fishing, which is the driving force behind the event. They learned how to paint lures, how to tie knots, and information on aquatic invasive species that can wreak havoc on lakes. The kids were also treated to some colorful stories by renowned DNR officer Mike “Cold Front” Kurre, who always volunteers his time with events like this.
Kurre engaged the kids in trivia and handed out prizes to those who got the correct answer to questions like, “When did Lake Vermilion last host the Governor’s Fishing Opener?” The answer, of course, was 2015, and before that, it was 2005.
He also told the kids to remember why they were here today, and that was to either fish or learn more about fishing if the weather kept them on the shoreline. They weren’t there to play on their smartphones or check social media.
“If you’re out there fishing, have them on vibrate,” said Kurre of the kids’ phones. “We are focusing on the fish —you have to think like a fish. These guides—they think like fish. Some of them even look like fish. That one over there does, his name is Bucky.” Bucky, of course, is Tim Lescarbeau, another longtime guide who was tasked back in 2015 to take out then Governor Mark Dayton for the Governor’s Fishing Opener.
Kurre also stressed that fishing is something kids can do all the time, not just during an annual event like TAKF.
“You know what the key is to fishing and keeping kids interested, besides staying busy and having fun? Doing it MORE THAN ONCE! One-time events like this are great to get the introduction, but it’s up to you to get these kids hooked on fishing — pardon the pun, but that is absolutely the truth!”