In fact, at some point I lifted my pole to see why I hadn't caught anything. Much to my dismay the line not only was missing the bait but also the hook. I quickly dipped the line back into the water without saying a word. There was no way I was going to show Rex that the line was missing a hook. I figured I must have done something wrong to have the hook fall off; in retrospect I suspect that he just didn't tie the hook on tight enough. But if I had called that to his attention, I was sure he would never let me go out in the boat with him again!
Pictured at right: Leonard Schears, Joe Gordon, and John Robbin exhibit their catch from Lake Koronis about 1900.
Lake Koronis has been the host to many fishermen like Rex. In fact, some of them have had even stronger personalities. John Robbin was one such personality. He came and settled in Paynesville in 1880 and worked as a section foreman for the Soo Line Railroad. To augment his family's food, he fished in Koronis and became quite proficient. In his later years, he set up camp on the public access near the old landing, now the public access near Donna's Bed and Breakfast. He acted as if the land were his; built a fishing shack and kept his boat ready for his clients. As a fishing guide, he charged a fee to take people to the best fishing locations.
Bertha Zniewski, Robbin's granddaughter, remembers him fondly. She recalls that when her brother was able to go with him in the boat, Junior could only hand his grandfather the bait. He would reach down into the pail and pull out a frog. Handing it to Robbins, his grandfather would predictably bark back at him to find another frog, the original frog being the wrong size. Junior finally caught on to his grandfather's ways and when he dipped his hand back into the bucket he pulled out exactly the same frog. Predictably, his grandfather would gruffly reply that the selection of the frog was much better. His grandfather never let on that he knew what Junior was doing. But then Junior was never able to actually fish when in grandfather's boat.
After Bertha married, her husband, Frederic, asked Robbin if he could go fishing with him. Robbin's curt reply was, "no." It wasn't until Frederic went out by himself and caught a large fish that he was allowed to accompany Robbin. When they went fishing together they had to use night crawlers from Robbin's yard, not Zniewski's. Grandpa made claims that the Zniewski's worms were not big enough.
I'm sure that other fish stories are as plentiful as the amount of fish that have been taken out of Lake Koronis over the years. It appears that at least one fishing character remains on the lake. The story is circulated that upon catching a nice walleye the fisherman took it off the hook and promptly kissed the fish! Fishermen with personalities continue to provide us with an interesting view from the lake.
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