Honoring the 2017 Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame inductees
It was unfortunate that I was unable to give the keynote address I’d prepared for the 2017 Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame “Dinner with the Pro’s” event a few weeks ago. Perhaps it would have been even more unfortunate for those in attendance to have to listen to me talk for 10 to 15 minutes, but the reason I wasn’t there was due to a traffic accident my wife was in earlier in the day.
Priorities definitely shifted when she called me from the scene of the crash. The good news: While she’s still sore, she’s otherwise doing well. The car is still in the shop needing a lot of work, however. At least it’s not the other way around.
What I most regret about not delivering the speech is giving due credit to this year’s honorees. Each one of them I have a connection with and was looking forward to giving my own nod to their lifelong accomplishments. So because I’m a better writer than speech-giver, I have a fully written version of my address that’s probably better to read than listen to anyways. Don’t worry, I edited out all the extraneous things I wanted to say and what’s left here are the complimentary words for Doug Stange, Clam Outdoors, Bud and Ted Burger, Perry Good, and my good friend “Tackle” Terry Tuma (otherwise known as “T3”).
I want to start by honoring our newest inductees, each of whom I’ve had the privilege of working with in various ways over my 20 years of being part of the fishing industry. I’ve done a lot over the years, but the one constant has been writing for Outdoor News and that’s been my guiding light all these years. If you are a subscriber or a regular reader I thank you very much and if you aren’t, why not? There’s no better place to learn about the outdoor opportunities out there, and especially to keep up with what’s going on with how our natural resources are being managed. I’ll hop on that soap box in a bit, but first let’s honor a few folks.
First, Clam Outdoors is a company I’ve gotten to know through writing the copy in their annual catalog a few times over the years. They have a lot of different product lines, all of which are just great, but what impresses me most about Clam is that they make a wide variety of shelters that fit a wide variety of anglers. There’s plenty of Clam gear you can blow your credit limit with, but if you are looking to start ice fishing, and don’t have a lot to invest, you can comfortably get going with quality gear from Clam.
Doug Stange has had the awful privilege of editing some of my writing over the years with a few pieces I’ve written for various In-Fisherman publications. I’ve also interviewed him for a piece I did in the Lake Country Journal about how the Brainerd Lakes is the Hollywood of the fishing industry. Doug has done a lot to advance the sport of angling and educating the public about the how-to of fishing, but also plenty about the biology of fishing and the issues of sound management. When I was on the board for the Brainerd Lakes Chapter of Fishing Has No Boundaries, Doug always was helpful in donating plenty of In-Fisherman swag as prizes for the anglers.
Fishing Has No Boundaries is also where I met Perry Good, who – no matter how busy his fishing tournament schedule – always made time to serve as a boat captain for anglers with disabilities. If you have not taken the opportunity to be part of that magnificent organization, please consider it. Just Google Brainerd Lakes Fishing Has No Boundaries or Bemidji Fishing Has No Boundaries and there’s room for adding both to your summer because the Bemidji event is at the end of June and the Brainerd event is at the end of August.
Being here, doing this, is a surrealistic experience. I remember as kids, my cousin and I chatting on the phone forever in the days before the fishing opener. Getting our game plans together and talking locations we were going to fish at my family cabin on the Gull Chain. No pre-fishing opener shopping trip was complete without two stops — one in the cities and the other up north. We always bought our bait at Marv Koep’s in Nisswa, but before we went up north, we’d stop at Burger Brothers.
I interviewed Ted and Bud Burger on the phone back in March of 2004 for a profile article in Outdoor News. I was excited to get to interview them because I’d grown up going with my Dad to the Burger Brothers in Bloomington. It was one of the most fun interviews I’ve ever done, mostly because one would start to answer my question and the other would finish it. They spoke almost like one person, but then would banter back-and-forth like best buddies giving each other a tough time.
Allow me to read just a short clip from my article of something that encompasses much of what the Burger Brothers stood for: The backbone the Burgers built their business around was teaching people to be better at their sport so they would, in turn, become greater participants in their sport. It was a philosophy that not only promoted more sales, but also promoted the sport.
Education was so critical for growing the sport because people don’t generally venture out into new territory unless they find somebody who has done it before them. “Everything was word of mouth back then but nobody ever heard enough to encourage them to move on,” Bud said.
Bud and Ted said the same type of information isn’t difficult to obtain today, but the best place for it now is through the various conservation groups.
“If you become a member of something like the Turkey Federation, Safari Club, Elk Foundation or Ducks Unlimited, you can talk and network with the other members and end up with a very true picture of what your opportunities are out there,” Bud said.
I’m pretty sure it was at a Burger Brothers when I first met Terry Tuma. I was just a kid and my Dad took me to one of his fishing seminars. I remember thinking how cool must it be to get paid to fish and talk about fishing. I felt like I was really moving up in the world when Outdoor News Editor Rob Drieslein asked me to write an article with “Tackle” Terry. We chatted on the phone, and Terry spoke to me like we were buddies. It was the start of a 20-year friendship that continues to this day. Tuma and I have logged many hours on the phone together as well as in the boat and on the ice.
A quick check of my computer files revealed at least 90 articles T3 and I have written together. The typical set-up would be just chatting on the phone, Terry dishing out his advice and insights, and me typing away. It’s fairly safe to say that the bulk of my fishing knowledge has come from those seminars on the phone that Terry gave to an audience of one that I had the privilege of turning into an article for the readers of Outdoor News. One of those articles we did together was about “fashion fishing” or the pressure on anglers to have the latest and the greatest gear.
Something Terry said that sticks in my mind was this: “A lot of anglers have taken on the belief that if you have the right equipment you are guaranteed to catch a lot of fish. Equipment doesn’t catch fish, the angler who knows how to use it does. Getting good at the basics of fishing comes with good old-fashioned time on the water.” The best teacher, he said, is experience, and that’s so true when it comes to fishing.”