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Hold on to Father’s Day memories

Anglers fishing for species such as walleye, bass, muskie and panfish often encounter the toothy northern pike. Keep in mind that any fish, such as this bonus 31" pike, momentarily make any species secondary. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

By Jason Durham / For the Enterprise

Many anglers head out on a body of water to target a single fish species, wishing to land walleye, big bass, hefty northern pike, crappie, bluegill or perch. The possibilities are vast in the Park Rapids area.

Yet the concept of “multi-species” fishing is foreign to some anglers.

This is often evident on guide trips, when the guests indicate a goal of catching walleye. When the pole bends and the net drops into the water, the fish brought into the boat rarely matters.

At the end of the day, when the day’s catch is lifted from the livewell or when the photos are reviewed on a camera, the memories of a good outing are evident.

For instance, over the past week and several guide trips, walleye were the target, but the state fish, though caught, wasn’t the highlight at the end of the day.

One excursion began with a mighty hookset. When the fish finally came aboard, the smiles turned to frowns.


Not your normal one-pound squiggly, slimy, armored-with-pokers bullhead, one of the biggest bullheads I’ve ever seen.

Coaching the angler on how to hold the fish while avoiding the spines that can stab a hand if not careful, he proudly held the fish.

“A picture of a bullhead,” one of the guests gasped. “Who would want that?”

The lucky, or unlucky, angler responded, “I’ve never caught one before.”

Sometimes people forget that fishing for one species often results in the capture of another. If there’s a bend in the rod, all fish are fun to catch.

While targeting walleye, anglers sometimes catch northern pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass, perch, bluegill and rockbass. Ohhhhh, rockbass.

Have you ever seen an angler spike a rockbass on the gunnel of the boat as if it were a football after a touchdown pass in the Superbowl?

It’s unfortunate, since all fish have a place in the ecosystems of our lakes, even the rockbass, bullhead, suckers or carp. Small fish of any species are no exception. Cursing out a tiny perch for taking a bait half their length ultimately isn’t justified.

Fishing should be enjoyable, from the moment you wake up, early on a day where you could potentially sleep in, until the time you cease talking of the stories from the trip. Even mishaps can become legendary tales in the future.

Don’t forget those little things that you relished years ago, but may have forgotten decades ahead; Reaching into the minnow bucket with your hands, searching through your dad’s tacklebox and asking him to tell a story about each lure, enjoying the peanut butter sandwich, potato chips and a soda while the rod-tip twitched from a bite. What do you hold onto and what do you set down?

As Father’s Day approaches tomorrow, think about what you hold onto and what you set down.

A bit of advice; don’t ever let go of those past fishing memories and let go of the idea that you’re only fishing for one species: a lifelong message from your dad.