Maturing and Growing in a Good Way
When I explored the idea of becoming a guide shortly after I retired, I asked many questions of local guides. Was their room for another guide? Was it difficult to start? Did I need a website? How much does a guide charge? One question I asked before I started was if there was some type of local guide organization. It turned out that there was not and in fact there was not a lot of interest at that time to form an organization. Well I did start to guide and enjoyed it very much. I continued to explore the idea of forming an organization for local guides. I explained how this would help all of the members by working closely with other organizations, and communities while providing additional exposure for members business. An informal meeting was held to discuss the possibilities along with pros and cons of organizing. Ultimately it was decided to move forward and establish the Lake Vermilion Guides League (LVGL).
In 2005, after drafting Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws and registering with the Secretary of State and the IRS, The LVGL was officially formed as a non-profit 501-c3. The newly formed organization decided to draft and approve a Code of Ethics as a way to ensure members operate at very high standard and to give resorts and clients an assurance that the guides would be professional. Dues were established and a mission statement was put together to represent the goals and strategies of the organization.
“To foster the development and promotion of fishing and associated activities by providing the means for education, preservation and conservation of those natural resources that are important to fishing and to the enhancement of fellowship and camaraderie among fishermen”
The charter membership included 15 local guides, with each guide operating as an individual business. Meetings are conducted 6 to 8 times a year. The (LVGL) quickly aligned themselves with the Lake Vermilion Resort Association and Sportsman’s Club of Lake Vermilion. They also became members of the Cook Chamber of Commerce and the Lake Vermilion Chamber of Commerce of Tower. A website was established and the LVGL was officially up and running.
During the first year, the LVGL sponsored a winter ice fishing contest and held a rummage sale in the Tower civic center. The League members were invited to meet with the DNR to hear the latest information and provide input on certain issues.
The LVGL held its first kids ice fishing event in the winter of 2009 with about 15 in attendance. The kids had a blast and parents liked the idea of an organization working with the kids. This was the premise for what has now become a premier event on Lake Vermilion. The first “Take a Kid Fishing Day” was held in 2010 with 46 kids participating from the ages of 10 to 15. The kids were treated to a shore lunch, given hats, rod &reel, tee shirts and other prizes. The event was set up for the kids, with an emphasis on teaching them about fishing and the importance of keeping our lakes healthy. The event has grown to the maximum number of 100 kids for the past three years. Approximately 50 boat operators volunteer their time to take these kids fishing. Many co-sponsors provide prizes including Fortune Bay who provides all the fish and food for the shore lunch. It is an amazing event and the smile on the kids’ faces is a testament to its success.
Input from the LVGL, along with the Resort Association and the Sportsman’s Club was instrumental in finally getting the Federal Government to realize the lake had a Cormorant problem and for them to put together a plan for their control. The LVGL continues to discuss the issue of the west end of Vermilion vs the east end as it pertains to the walleye population. Hopefully, some major changes will take place to remedy the situation.
“From a resorts standpoint, the Lake Vermilion Guides League is an invaluable service that we can provide our guests. We, as resort owners can either book the guides we need or we can refer interested parties to the Guides League webpage for direct bookings. There are literally hundreds of years of fishing experience provided with the professionalism and dedication needed to insure our guests have a memorable adventure on Lake Vermilion. While catching fish is always the desired outcome of any resort guided fishing trip, the guides league members impart their own character, experiences and stories that enhance the vacation of our resort guests. They are truly partners with the resorts as an integral part of a visitors Lake Vermilion trip” Jay Schelde, Owner, Pike Bay Lodge
In the winter of 2013 an idea was discussed that involved taking wounded or senior veterans fishing. The consensus thought it was a good idea and an excellent way to give something back to our local veterans. A committee was formed to submit a structure for the group to vote on. With an initial donation of $2500 from the LVGL, the committee was able to raise another $4500 from businesses throughout the area. In addition, gifts valued at $2000 were donated. The event was held August 28, 2014 with 42 veterans in attendance. It started with a color guard presentation, singing of our National Anthem and an invocation. One veteran said “I was on the freedom flight and this was every bit as good if not even better” There were several WWII veterans that attended. Plans are being formed, provided enough money can be raised, for LVGL to host another such event, with hopes of establishing it as an annual event.
“I highly recommend the Guides League members to our guests. The guides are extremely knowledgeable, reliable and friendly. I am confident our guests will enjoy their fishing experience on Lake Vermilion when using the Lake Vermilion Guides League” Sally Berquist, Fortune Bay Marina
The LVGL is currently working with other people and groups in the planning of the 2015 Governors Fishing Opener. Lake Vermilion was the site of the 2005 Governors Opener which made a very large economic impact on the area. Fortunate to be selected again, much work and planning must be completed. Lake Vermilion Guides League Members have some important duties for the event. Phil Bakken is chair of the fishing host committee, Tim (Buck) Lescarbeau is chair of the Kids Fishing committee and co-chair of fishing host committee with Denny Vandelinde as co-chair of both committees.
110 fishing hosts will be needed for this event. If you would like to volunteer please contact Phil Bakken, 218-780-3385 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information regarding the Governors Fishing Opener can be found on www.mngovernorsfishingopener.com
“The Lake Vermilion Guides League is a very professional organization and is a pleasure to work with. We know our guests are getting the best with a Lake Vermilion Guides League member” Lori Peetsch, Ludlows Island Resort
The future looks good for Lake Vermilion and the LVGL will continue to assist in the preservation of its bountiful resources. The LVGL will continue its’ quest for a solution to the east vs west walleye disparity. It plans on working with the Resort Association and Sportsman’s club as well as area elected officials to put a plan in place that will enable the DNR to gather some beneficial data and for viable solutions.
Submitted and written by: Phil Bakken, Charter member and Secretary of Lake Vermilion Guides League