Vern Wagner

When Vern Wagner is not tournament bass fishing or teaching kids to fish, he can be found roaming the State Capitol working on fish habitat and fishing legislation.

Posts about Fishing

Never trust a man who never fished

Posted by: Vern Wagner Updated: July 13, 2009 - 7:10 PM
Case in point. My last two club tournaments on the Whitefish Chain and then the next day on the Mississippi. I was fishing with my new bass club: Fat Belly Bassmasters - a club where both the fish and the anglers have something in common. I first joined a bass club back in 1984, my daughter was just born and taking time away to go fishing wasn't appreciated. So, by joining a club that fished only once a month, I was guaranteed that I'd get out on the water at least a few times that summer. Even though I still fish a few money tournaments, club fishing is by far the best.

I did great on Whitefish, pulled a limit and hooked the big fish of the day, then on day two I zipped. See what I mean by humility and fishing? My higher power let me have just a taste of glory, and then said OK Vern time to learn some more about being humble. Darn, on Saturday I though, maybe I should turn Pro, but on Sunday I was parking trucks and loading boats. I heard a saying about fishing on Sundays, that it was better to be fishing and thinking spiritual thoughts, then it was to be in a church and thinking about fishing. I suspect there is something to this. 

Next Sunday, I'm fishing with a Junior Bass Club, the Bassinators. Kids from ages 8 or 9 all the way up to 17 and 18. A bunch of us so called grown up guys, bring our boats and each take two or three kids out. The kids are in charge. They pick the locations, lures, presentations and some even run the trolling motor. I don't even get to fish. It isn't hard to find kids, both boys and girls who want to go fishing, the hard part is finding the boaters willing to devote a day to being there for the kids. I've got some secret information I usually share with the younger anglers, the first secret is that fish love to ride in boats. Most people don't know this. But after a catch and release tournament the fish get together and discuss what type of boat they rode in. I suspect the younger fish like the fast boats, Skeeter, Stratos, and Bass Cats. But the really big fish; the fat belly bass they like the Rangers, Champions , ProCraft and Lund.  

The second secret is about the three most important issues in fishing... but more about that in my next blog.

Introducing Anglers for Habitat

Posted by: Vern Wagner Updated: July 13, 2009 - 3:53 PM

Anglers for Habitat 

Since January a new coalition of angling groups formed for the purpose of giving anglers a shared voice; quite an ambitious undertaking. It’s not as if fisherpersons don’t have opinions, but to publicly announce them  might just rock the boat.  Here in Minnesota, fishing has never been a rollicking controversial subject; but anglers having a voice just might take some getting use to.  

Avoiding controversy isn’t easy, keeping political matters under your hat is sound advice. For angling activists to get policical means supporting some legislators and trying to get some unelected. In a world is full of fishing experts, pushing or opposing legislation they can all agree on is like making sausage, you really don’t want to know how it is done, just so it tastes great when it’s done. We will need to take care of our friends who are in office and try to get the others who aren't onboard with us.  

With the passage of new sales tax dollars benefiting the outdoors, lots of folks are getting in line for the big bucks. The anglers I know; all had big dreams of how we would spend the dollars. Restoring aquatic habitat in lakes, slowing down the spread of invasive’s, fixing and improving boat ramps, adding parking and God forbid a few Porta-Potties. As the Minnesota DNR’s budget dwindles due to budget cuts, who is left out there to monitor habitat? We need a strong focus on acquiring Aquatic Management Areas, improved: home/ cabin, lake association - shoreline management and enforcement, and coordination with other outdoors groups to protect and restore our lakes and streams. 

Much of this will require finding the funds to do the work; all of our futures are in the hands of a few key Senators and State Representatives. Anglers will need to be in the front row of legislative hearings, they will need to learn the benefits from contacting legislators. We need to get better at sending emails, attending functions and making phone calls. Usually it is a small group of people who get things done, if anglers aren’t part of the process we won’t see the solutions that we want. Our Mission:

Anglers for Habitat (AFH) is an emerging non-profit statewide alliance of anglers who have participated in past annual DNR Fisheries Roundtables. AFH brings together bass, walleye, muskie, northern pike, trout, panfish and bow fishing anglers, along with lakeshore associations, environmental and conservation groups. Our Mission:  Anglers for Habitat is dedicated to the preservation and improvement of aquatic habitat, clean water and fishing in Minnesota.    

Through this coalition, Minnesota anglers can find common ground and speak with a united voice in matters affecting aquatic habitat, rules&regulations, conservation and sport fishing with the State legislature and Minnesota DNR. Anglers realize that poor watershed management, lakeshore development, run-off and pollution have a tremendous effect on fish populations and habitat.  Our collective concern is with clean water, healthy lakes and rivers, and passing on to future generations Minnesota’s rich legacy of fishing. 

Historically, small single-species groups and concerned citizens have been working with the DNR and state and local agencies to reverse the habitat loss occurring from unsound lakeshore development and shoreline management. They have accomplished much: alternative shoreline management rules, a 25 year Aquatic Management and acquisition plan, and development of whole lake plans, especially as they relate to lake vegetation and preventing the spread of invasive exotics.  But a handful of concerned citizens and fishing organizations can only do so much; it is our vision that our coalition can put more oars in the water for habitat.  

If you wish to become part of this effort please email us at


visit our forum at 

for additional information please contact 

Vern Wagner 612-756-3474 


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