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Local fishing pros teach tips to kids

The free, annual event is sponsored by the Park Rapids chapter of the Minnesota Darkhouse and Angling Association.

Jason Durham, at right, and TJ Erickson review important parts of a fish at their annual kids seminar, held Monday, April 24 at the Park Rapids American Legion.
Shannon Geisen/Enterprise

Area fishing guides Jason Durham and TJ Erickson shared their enthusiasm with budding anglers this week.

They returned to the Park Rapids American Legion for their annual kids fishing seminar, which also featured an interactive dark house experience.

The free event is sponsored by the Park Rapids chapter of the Minnesota Darkhouse and Angling Association.

More than 100 children attended. All left with a brand-new rod and reel, courtesy of R.D. Offutt Company and Thielen Motors donations.

Every child left with a new fishing rod at the end of the event.
Shannon Geisen/Enterprise

Rhett Murrey, 7, of Park Rapids won the grand prize drawing: a day-long fishing trip on Leech Lake with fishing guide Joe Paquin.


Durham, a Nevis kindergarten teacher, has been a fishing guide for more than 30 years.

Erickson is a K-4 physical education teacher at Century Elementary School in Park Rapids. He moved to the area about eight years ago. He first joined Durham at the fishing seminar in 2022.

“Between us two, we have a lot of fun fishing stories and a lot of fishing knowledge,” Erickson told the crowd.

Safety first, said TJ Erickson, explaining that life jackets are required if you are 10 years old or younger. The duo also urged kids to learn how to swim.
Shannon Geisen/Enterprise

The duo covered fishing basics, like equipment, the anatomy of a fish and the burning question for all anglers – where to find them.

Erickson explained that fish like to hang around rocky reefs, logs, lily pads, docks or weedy areas.

Big fish don’t live in the deepest, darkest part of the lake, Durham added, largely because there isn’t enough oxygen for them. “Most of the time, we’re fishing in 20 feet or less of water to find these bigger fish,” he said.

Both encouraged the young fisherfolk to practice casting into a 5-gallon bucket, without a hook, in their backyards.

“The most important thing is casting where the fish are,” Durham emphasized.


He also reminded kids that the size of the fish isn’t as important as the experience of fishing.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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