Forty years have gone by since the late David B. Anderson of Bay & Bay trucking company founded Minnesota Valley In-Fisherman Club, a multi-species angling group that thrives on sharing fishing secrets.
As unlikely as it sounds, the 69 active members of the Apple Valley-based club are not the least bit tight-lipped about what, where, when, and exactly how they’ve been catching fish. Why? Because people join and re-join the club to become better anglers.
“Our club is here to improve fishing tactics and build camaraderie,” said Pat “Bait Shop” Albers, the president. “The helpfulness of the club is important.”
At a time when it’s more common for hunting and fishing clubs to be losing members, Minnesota Valley has been expanding by about six anglers a year. Albers said all-time membership peaked last year at 70.
“We are a multi-species fishing club, not a bunch of wannabes who get together and drink beer,” said John Larson, vice president.
Larson said the willingness of members to go into detail about where and how they catch fish is the club’s backbone. At the July general membership meeting, for instance, a panfish angler who caught big bluegills on Prior Lake specified his entire rig, including how he conditioned worms to stay plump.
The well-attended meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every month at the Apple Valley American Legion. Anglers of all skill levels are welcomed to join and boat ownership is not required. Guest speakers are a monthly norm, but the highlight of the evening is an open forum where members take turns holding the floor to recount their most recent outings.
In addition to holding a yearly fall fishing trip on Lake Vermillion, Minnesota Valley members congregate monthly for trips closer to home. The group’s activities, fish photos and individual point totals are published 10 times a year in a newsletter called Weedline. The point system rewards anglers for every fish they catch. The year-end winner gets listed on a plaque named after club founder Anderson.
Albers said the club’s origins date to 1976 when the Lindner fishing family was forming clubs in the metro area. Most members of Minnesota Valley are men, but it’s open to all and now includes a woman in her 70s as well as a middle-schooler who fishes with her dad. Because the Apple Valley chapter was founded before the Lindners copyrighted “In-Fisherman,” the club name was grandfathered, Albers said.
Youth outreach is another focus. Albers said funds for fishing kits come from a massive October fish fry at the Apple Valley American Legion.