Friday, May 9, 2014

Fishing Opener Confessions - Is it the fish we are after?

Dear Friends, Family, Colleagues, Clients, People who I don't know that might stumble upon this blog. Tonight at the click of 12:00 am the 2014 Minnesota Fishing Opener will be upon us.  This is a start to a fishing guide's seasons.

The past few days, at the age of 35 just like every opener, I have had spouts of emotions that brings chills, hidden smiles, nerves, tears and very strong memories of fishing the opener with my father who is now in heaven. I am an angler/person that has so much passion (if you ask my friends sometimes it's a little much) for chasing fish, but is it really the fish we are after?  This is coming from a guy who has fished three days straight sleeping in the boat trying to catch the largest musky in Minnesota, a guy who can't sleep at night thinking about the fish that swim, a guy who spend hours upon hours studying maps trying to figure out the best spot to catch a fish and a guy who has built his life around the fish.  But I'm not too certain it's just the fish we are after?  Hear me out!

Last night I attended the 2014 Governors Opener Fishing Host meeting and I shook the hands of fellow fishing friends, our guide competitors, tournament anglers, and other fisherman from across MN to take apart in the annual event.  As I made the rounds talking and catching up, again consumed by emotions, but trying to hide them I found myself sitting across the table from the Leisure Outdoor Guide Team.  I looked at each one of these guys and thought how lucky we are to have such a strong team of guys who I know share the same passion as I do about this game of fishing.  We have several seasons together with many ups and downs, flat tires, that client that we just couldn't make happy, bad weather, amazingly good bites with giant fish, broken lines to the biggest fish of the season, high gas prices, broken stuff, arguments about who found the fish and many more but ultimately we share a strong camaraderie as a group.  

Then I heard the LT. Governor get up and speak about catching the biggest and most fish.  Lucky for her she will be sharing the boat with my co-owner of LOA, Toby Kvalevog.  I can't tell you how much Toby deserves this recognition.  Toby is by far one of the best anglers I get to share the boat with but that has nothing to do with why he deserves this honor.  He is as humble person, loves his family and is one of those guys that will always be there to help you, but has also worked his tail off in the fishing industry with pride and integrity.  Toby sat, in typical fashion, quite, reserved, and consumed with the pressure that is upon him.  He wouldn't admit that he is feeling me he would never admit that.  But, as he sat there quite he wasn't just sitting there.  He was making a game plan, networking, looking at the map, running through scenarios on how to get this job done.  He will!

Looking back I remember as a young man working at Bluewater Bait and Sports in Bemidji the Friday before fishing opener which was one of the top bait stores in the area.  Scooping minnows as fast as can, filling out license, talking strategy but not always the exact truth, and having these exact same emotions that I still experience today.  Tomorrow I will take three people fishing, build new friends, and drop them off at the dock.  I then will rush home, grab my 5 year old son, and share the boat with him.  A tradition that my father and I shared so many times.

The past few season's I haven't been able to share the fishing opener with my father.  As I reflect about those memories it wasn't about the fish we caught it was about the time we spent together.  I ask this one thing of you anglers, as you drive North to your destination, tie on your favorite jig, buy those lucky minnows from your favorite bait store, remember this, the fish may have brought us here but this game isn't about just the fish - it's about the memories that will be made!

God bless, good luck, be safe and make a memory!

Jeff "Jiggy"Andersen

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