Sixteen photographers were sent out to every section of Minnesota, South and North Dakota to cover ice fishing by their mentors Glen Tornell and Wayne Gudmundson at Moorhead State University.
The result was ďWalking on WaterĒ which was published in 1997. It is a 160-page book packed with photographs, reprinted news items, ice fishing charts and graphs, tidbits and an anecdotal essay which explores the experience and lure of ďfishing the hard water.Ē
ďI had the photographers spend a year on the ice searching for pictures, to cover as much of the state as possible, even sending them places where they didnít live,Ē he said. ďWe dedicated the book to those who go forth onto the fields of ice (the ice fishermen and women).
Among the photographers was Kirsten Culbertson, a Paynesville Area High School graduate. She graduated from Moorhead State in 1993 majoring in English and mass communication. During her last year there, she worked on a photo-documentary project, also headed by Gudmundson.
ďThis fishing project was the brain child of Gudmundson. He asked a few alums who had worked with him before, if theyíd be interested in working on the project,Ē Culbertson said. ďI returned from Boston for one week and traveled to lakes around Paynesville, Buffalo, and Lake Mille Lacs, but most of the other photographers involved in the project were living in Minnesota and North Dakota the entire year, covering a great number of lakes.Ē
Culbertson took the picture on page 52 of Lake Koronis in January 1996. The picture was taken near the southeast shore of the lake, a mile or two from the house where she grew up. ďThe fish house with the mosquito was a big hit with the editors of the book,Ē she said.
(The fish house mentioned belongs to M.H. Hansen, Paynesville. It shows pictures of the largest fish caught in Koronis: Sunfish, 2+ pounds; walleye, 14 lbs. 8 oz; perch, 2 lbs. 10 oz.; northern, 32 lbs. 8 oz.; carp, 54 lbs. 8 oz.; and the mosquito, 2 lbs.)
How many lakes were covered in the book, more than 25. ďThough we, as a collective, covered hundreds of miles of lakes, not all photos were included in the book. We set no specific boundaries for the photographers, however, all photos were taken in Minnesota, North and South Dakota. The only Iowa lake was Big Spirit Lake.Ē
Culbertson has lived in Boston since 1993. She attended Emerson College for an MFA program in writing, literature and publishing. Since graduating from college, she has been doing free-lance writing for a travel magazine, working as a graphics specialist at Pioneer Global Institutional Advisors and teaching English as a second language two or three nights a week.
ďThough none of my family gets back to Paynesville on a regular basis, it is still very much my home town. I lived and went to school in Paynesville for only five years, but both my mother (originally Beulah Lukason) and grandmother (Anna Everson) grew up in Paynesville. The photos at Nordland Lutheran Church show three generations of our family confirmed there. I also have many great aunts, uncles and cousins still in the Paynesville area. I was six days old the first time I stayed at our house in Paynesville. I still miss the house I lived in there, as well as Lake Koronis, and I canít help but drive past every now and then.Ē
The website for the book is: www.icefish.com.
According to the book, ďWalking on Water,Ē the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources each year issues about 115,000 permits for resident ice fishing houses, 7900 for nonresident ice fishing houses and 1,500 for rental ice fishing houses. All houses must have permits displayed on the outside along with a sign stating the name and address of the owner. Fishing regulations also stipulate the entrance door to the ice house cannot be locked from the inside when occupied.
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