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Weather doesn’t hinder 2023 Let’s Take A Kid Fishing event!

July 21, 2023

LAKE VERMILION— With rain steadily pelting the lakeside tent at Fortune Bay Resort Casino Wednesday morning, Phil Bakken announced that the 2023 Let’s Take A Kid Fishing (TAKF) event would not go off as planned.


Instead, the kids could hang out and try some activities to bide some time until lunch would be served later that morning with the hopes that the 2024 event would return with an abundance of sunshine.


However, the longtime guide and TAKF Co-chair added an option by saying, “If the kids and guides do want to go out, that’s up to them.”


And when you challenge kids and some hearty souls from the Lake Vermilion Guide’s League that still wanted to hit the lake, that’s precisely what happened as a dozen of the 40-plus kids who showed up early Wednesday morning had their guides take them out for an abbreviated morning on the lake.


“I’m a little bummed that I said the fishing portion would be canceled because I sent a lot of the guides home, and when the weather cleared, we had a lot of kids who wanted to go out,” said Bakken, who thanked all of the volunteers and sponsors for putting on the event. “I was just glad to see so many kids still want to go out with the weather being the way it was.”


Nonetheless, all of the kids (ages 10 to 15), still learned a lot about the sport of fishing, which is the driving force behind the event. It was the first time since the pandemic that the event returned, and despite not filling all 100 spots, Bakken was still pleased with the turnout.


For those who stayed behind, they learned how to paint lures, how to tie knots, and invaluable information on Aquatic Invasive Species that wreak havoc on lakes throughout the state and country. The kids were also treated to some colorful stories by renowned DNR official Mike “Cold Front” Kurre, who always volunteers his time with events like this.


Kurre did a great job engaging 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 use their phones to see what was happening with 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.


“I liked that joke,” said Lescarbeau later on. “But what I like better is being back with the kids and teaching them all I know about this great outdoor sport. Even though the weather hindered us today, we could still connect with the kids and give them a Lake Vermilion experience they will remember long after this event is over.”


Another reminder Kurre spoke about was the fact that even though this was an annual event, he implored them to make an effort to keep it going throughout the year.


“You know what the key is to fishing and keeping kids interested, besides staying busy and having fun? Doing it MORE THAN ONCE!” emphasized Kurre. “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!”


And you don’t have to tell that to Cass Nelson, who was one of the kids who went onto the lake when the weather cleared up.


“He went out with my brother Scott and caught a 30-inch walleye,” said Bakken. “Cass was thrilled! He now holds the record for the largest walleye caught in the Lake Vermilion Let’s Take A Kid Fishing event.”


As is the case every year, Bakken prepared a list of sponsors that helped make the event possible. He had Kurre read the names of businesses and organizations that lent a helping hand. The list included the Lake Vermilion Guide’s League, Fortune Bay Resort Casino, Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade, Cook Chamber of Commerce, Lake Vermilion Chamber of Commerce, Cook News-Herald, Virginia Surplus, St. Louis County North District Soil and Water Department, and the Babbitt & Embarrass Federal Credit Union.


“Thanks to all these people that are both volunteering here today, and thank you to all of the businesses who donated money or products or whatever it may be,” said Kurre. “Make sure you take care of them… and kids, what do you say when somebody does something nice for you?”


With that, Kurre counted 1, 2, 3 – before the kids yelled out Thank you!!


“Very good, but the fish couldn’t hear that,” said Kurre as he counted 1, 2, 3 again, ‘Thank you!!’ the kids yelled in unison.


Just for good measure, Kurre did it one more time, and the kids gave their loudest thank you of the day, which was much appreciated by all the volunteers and guides on hand.


“Good job, kids; now let’s go have some fun,” said Kurre.

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