Gravdahl forecasts opener from new angle

Mike Gravdahl, known to Park Rapids Enterprise readers since 1971, has retired the pen and picked up the pole. His role with the newspaper is now part-time, his position as a sportsman full-time. Gravdahl resigned as Enterprise general manager in...

Mike Gravdahl, known to Park Rapids Enterprise readers since 1971, has retired the pen and picked up the pole.

His role with the newspaper is now part-time, his position as a sportsman full-time.

Gravdahl resigned as Enterprise general manager in January but he continues to share advice and observations on the great outdoors in his weekly "Gravy" column. Production duties on "deadline" days, Tuesday and Friday, are also on his agenda

Enterprise publisher John Ainley recruited Gravdahl for the sports editor position just after he'd graduated from college. Gravdahl saw the offer as a welcome opportunity to remain in Park Rapids.

"I don't think there's a better area to grow up and live in," he said.


His initial roles at the Enterprise included selling ads, covering general news - including county board, layout and sports reporting.

His outdoors column debuted in '72, reflecting his passion for hunting and fishing.

Gravdahl's writing and photography have garnered Minnesota Newspaper Association awards through the years.

And many a scrapbook holds the photos and stories of high school competitors' experiences - a narrow win, a last second point, an astounding upset or a disappointing defeat.

He cites the growth of women's athletics, which began in the 1970s, as a hallmark.

"It opened the doors for kids to participate," he said. "It doubled my workload, but it was fun to see the kids working as a team."

The life skills garnered on the court and field are a "necessary part of life," he noted.

From typewriters to digital


He has watched the evolution of newspaper technology through the years. His initial compositions were drafted on a manual typewriter, sent on to be retyped in column form for layout.

Many an hour was spent in the darkroom processing film and developing photos, in comparison to today's digital cameras. Images appear on the computer screen via flash card moments after a photo has been shot.

Today's journalists are emboldened in composition of stories - with most grammatical and spelling errors flagged - and layout - possibilities seemingly endless.

In days of yore (just a few years ago) the stories, in column form, were manually cut and pasted onto pages, headlines to be added. Those pages were sent to the plant in Detroit Lakes via truck, where they went to press.

Now Enterprise pages, sent electronically, beat the driver to the plant.

Headlines askew are a thing of the past. Vivid color greets Enterprise readers - in the newspaper and on the Internet Web site.

The Forum purchased the Enterprise from Doug Hirsch and partners in 1985. Gravdahl was named general manager in 1987 until his retirement, due to health issues, in January.

Dennis Winskowski has served as publisher of the Enterprise since 1985.


New docks on the docket

Today - fishing opener - will find him on Island Lake. Gravdahl's fishing openers now span more than six decades, the majority spent on Island Lake.

Over the years, tradition has become tantamount to the number of fish caught.

"The opener is a time to renew acquaintances, to get together on the water with friends." Gravdahl said.

"We may compete throughout the summer," he said of tournaments. "But come opener, we're renewing our relationship with the fishing gods."

The opener, he counsels, may not be the premier weekend for catching fish. By the end of May, beginning of June, fish are more cooperative.

"Everyone tries to predict what the opener will bring," he said. But old Mother Nature holds the trump card.

'Weather dictates," he said.


His forecast is calling for an "average opener." The ice receded within an "average" time period, "spawning runs likewise.

"Walleye are moving back to their normal haunts," he said, boding a good opener.

Choosing the "hot bait" can be a tough decision, fish appetites a difficult call. He recommends heading out with a variety of tempters - minnows, night crawlers and leeches - with jigs and a Roach Rig or two.

A number of area lakes have a good early-year northern pike population, he said, recommending dropping a jig and minnow in shallow water.

Walleye aficionados tend to overlook crappies and bluegills, waiting in the shallows.

"It just might be the best fishing of the day," he said, recommending casting a line in or along dead reeds.

"Don't fish only walleye or northern," he advises. "Be open-minded. Whatever's biting, fish for it. It's the catching that's fun" - and being on the water.

"Lakes have a mellowing effect," he said of water's allure.


"I've only scratched the surface of what this area has to offer," he said of his retirement itinerary.

A list of yet-to-be-fished lakes is on the docket.

Gravy's wanderlust is sure to take the reader into uncharted fishing territory, about which he's sure to drop us a line.

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