Anderson: Owners' tale is circular at fly shop

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 11, 2014 - 1:36 AM

The original owner of Bob Mitchell’s Fly Shop in Lake Elmo left for Montana. He was replaced by … a fly fishing fan from the Big Sky state.

hide

Bob Hawkins, new owner of Bob Mitchell’s Fly Shop in Lake Elmo, has doubled the shop’s size since May. It’s a busy time. The state’s regular stream trout season opens Saturday.

Photo: Dennis Anderson • danderson@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

Call it a reverse migration of sorts — a Montana fly fisherman settling in as the owner of a Minnesota fly shop.

But that’s what Bob Hawkins did almost a year ago, moving from Bozeman, Mont., to the Twin Cities to assume proprietorship of Bob Mitchell’s Fly Shop in Lake Elmo.

Hawkins, 40, purchased the business from Mike Alwin, who retired. Bob Mitchell’s founding dates to 1976, making it the longest-running retail outlet committed exclusively to fly fishing in the Twin Cities.

Ownership of the business occurred somewhat by happenstance.

“I had been a fly fishing guide in Montana for a number of years and managing a lodge on the Yellowstone River,” said Hawkins, who was born and raised in Bozeman, and who had also guided in Alaska for seven years. “But as a guide, you typically have to look for other work in winter, and while Montana is a great place to visit, there aren’t a lot of career opportunities there.”

Hawkins’ wife, Rhea, is a graphic designer originally from St. Cloud. When the couple decided to explore job opportunities outside Big Sky country, they considered Portland, Seattle and Denver, in addition to the Twin Cities.

A quick response from a firm in the metro offering Rhea a job arrived about the same time Alwin put Bob Mitchell’s up for sale. Alwin wanted to spend more time on area rivers, fly rod in hand.

“We jumped at the opportunities here,” said Bob Hawkins, who also studied and worked in commercial photography in Seattle for a few years.

First on Hawkins’ list of improvements to Bob Mitchell’s was an expansion of floor space from 600 square feet to more than 1,300. More flies and fly-tying supplies were added, as was an expansive line of fly-fishing equipment, including Simms waders and other gear, Sage rods, Yeti coolers and other name-brand fly angler necessities.

The strong interest in fly fishing among Minnesota anglers has been a pleasant surprise, Hawkins said.

“There’s a huge interest here in trout fishing,” he said. “The ‘Kinni’ and Rush rivers are nearby [in western Wisconsin], as are streams in southeast Minnesota. And it seems the interest in fly fishing in the Twin Cities is growing.”

As a bonus, fly angling for warm-water species such as northern pike, muskies, smallmouth bass and panfish is also popular here — opportunities that didn’t exist in Montana, Hawkins said.

“For me personally, the whole warm-water thing is great,” he said.

Hawkins’ dad was an enthusiastic fly fisherman and had his son on Montana rivers as a toddler. “It was either that or get left at home,” he said.

“By the time I was 13, my dad had me on the oars, rowing,” Hawkins said.

It’s possible that Hawkins will guide in this area sometime in the future, but he has no plans to do so now, he said.

Perhaps ironically, the shop’s namesake — Bob Mitchell — spent most of his vacation time in Montana, fishing. In 1994, Mitchell and his wife, Jean, who was in every way a partner in the business, sold the shop to Alwin …

And moved to Montana.

Now another “Bob” has moved back from the West to take over the shop … and care for its longtime customers.

The other morning, an old-timer collection of these self-anointed fishing experts — aka the Lost Boys — gathered at the shop as they long have, sipping coffee and bragging about fish caught, those yet to be caught and the flies that might catch them.

Among regulars in this bunch are Bill Spiess, Dennis Hook, Dick Schwartz, Patrick Daly, Vic Mason and Bob Nasby.

“Bob [Hawkins] is a real credit to the fly fishing community,” Nasby said. “He’s doing a great job with the shop.”

First-time visitors to the new, expanded Bob Mitchell’s also are common. Some walk in the door to buy, others to learn about fly tying, casting or other skills necessary to hook fish.

Interested anglers can register for classes on these and other topics on the shop’s website, bobmitchellsflyshop.com.

“A little later this spring — the date hasn’t been set yet — we plan to have a grand opening,” Hawkins said. “Everyone’s welcome.”

 

Dennis Anderson • danderson@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Texas - WP: N. Martinez 7 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 2
Boston 1 Top 6th Inning
Pittsburgh 3
Toronto 0 Top 7th Inning
NY Yankees 2
Washington 6 Bottom 6th Inning
Miami 1
Los Angeles 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
Chicago Cubs 2
Cleveland 0 Top 3rd Inning
Houston 0
Milwaukee 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
St. Louis 0
Arizona 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Colorado 0
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick 8:10 PM
San Diego - R. Erlin
Seattle - F. Hernandez 9:05 PM
LA Angels - W. LeBlanc
Tampa Bay 0 1st Qtr 6:09
Atlanta 7
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 3 2nd Qtr 2:35
(20) Kansas State 7
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close