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Paynesville Press - April 07, 2004

"Let's Go Fishing" looks to start chapter in Paynesville

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

"Let's Go Fishing" is for senior citizens who still want to cast a fishing line or just to feel a lake breeze on their faces during a boat ride. The organization, started in Willmar, is dedicated to taking seniors on fishing and boating trips. Now, a group of volunteers is trying to start a second chapter of the organization in Paynesville.

"Let's Go Fishing" of Minnesota was started three years ago in Willmar by Joe Holm, who wanted to do something for seniors. Since then, the group has grown to 37 volunteers, who provided fishing trips and boat rides to over 1,000 people last year.

During two informational meetings held at the Paynesville Area Center last week, five members of the Willmar chapter described the organization and offered support for starting a second "Let's Go Fishing" chapter in the Paynesville area. A total of nine members of the community attended the meetings, with several volunteering to help launch a Paynesville chapter.

According to Holm, Paynesville is an ideal location for a "Let's Go Fishing" chapter. Two elements are needed to organize a successful chapter: lakes and volunteers. The lakes are here, said Holm, and the people have shown a lot of interest in the program.

Paul Bugbee, owner of Bugbee Hive Resort, has already offered the use of a pontoon for the group, and Inez Jones of the Paynesville Area Center has volunteered to take phone reservations.

But there is still a need for more volunteers before a Paynesville chapter can be successful, according to Holm. Volunteers are needed to act as fishing guides, as assistants (each pontoon trip requires at least two people), to work on fundraisers (including an annual fish fry for seniors), to work on a newsletter, and to bring cookies to an outing, said Holm. He hopes enough volunteers will attend an organizational meeting in April to take leadership roles and get the group moving.

A typical excursion last about three hours, said Holm, but volunteers are urged to only work when their schedule permits. Volunteers don't need to have a boat or even be anglers. They only need to have the desire to help.

"We need caring individuals who are willing to donate their time to help out," said Holm.

Holm hopes to get support from the Paynesville Area Health Care System, and local resident Harry Theilen volunteered to explain the program to the Paynesville Sportsmen's Club and to the two area lake associations.

Holm believes most of the group's support will come from individuals in the community who are looking for a rewarding way to spend some time. Holm pointed out that volunteers often have as much fun on the outings as the participants.

Many of the seniors that "Let's Go Fishing" targets are thrilled to get back on the water after giving up fishing because of a lack of income or equipment or because poor health or poor mobility has made it difficult, said Holm. (Even seniors in wheelchairs are able to board a pontoon and join most excursions.)

"We don't guarantee fish, but we do guarantee a good time," said Holm.

An organizational meeting for a Paynesville chapter of "Let's Go Fishing" is scheduled for Tuesday, April 13, at the Paynesville Area Center at 7 p.m. Holm urged anyone interested in volunteering for the program to attend the meeting and bring a friend. For more information about "Let's Go Fishing," call 320-235-8448 or visit the group's website at

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