As I was walking out of the shop today at dad’s I noticed the neighbor was mowing his yard. I stopped what I was doing and in complete confusion I watched him for a moment. In the back of my mind I was thinking…why in the world would anybody mow their yard so early in the year. THEN, like my ninety pound labs paw to the balls…it hit me. And it hit me hard; we have been so incredibly busy I had to think indefinitely about the fact it is almost May. What an absolutely crazy awesome spring we have had…we haven’t held back on one opportunity to reach Kit’s Tackle towards the sky. We have done five major trade shows, over twenty seminars, all kinds of events, banquets and even gained our Captain’s license while manufacturing and marketing the business. Now, if we could just sneak a day or two in to fish I would quit complaining about life in white water.
From left to right: Mark “the man” Garrison, Dan “the troll master” Spence, Mr. Kit’s Tackle Proper, Luke “the brains” Evans, My ugly mug, Jamie “wild west” Benedickt, Dan “the big man” Troope, Jody “the coyote” Hansen, Mitch “the Alaskan master” and Casey “the stud” Phelps
It has always been a dream of ours to take the coastguard OUPV class to become a licensed captain so we could guide clients on the side. We are so passionate about the world of jig fishing and would love to share and explore the world of “Jiggin’ the Dream” with others. Earlier this spring when the possible opportunity raised itself we decided it was meant to be. Normally you would have to travel to Portland, Oregon to take the course. Not only is the travel difficult, but the course is two weeks long which makes things really tough! The way the stars aligned the class ended up being offered right smack dab in our back yard. Mark Garrison of Hidden Treasure Charters put the class on at the National Guard building right here is Helena…YES, I KNOW HOW LUCKY WE ARE!! Not only that it was in Helena but with a teacher as AWESOME as Mark!! It was a very intense two weeks, but super enjoyable with Mark as our captain.
As enjoyable a time as we had with Mark, even in a high stress fast pace environment I would highly recommend you check out his real Captain work! He does incredible boat tours through the beautiful Bighorn Canyon in Wyoming/Montana, teaches the Captain License class we took (Zenith Maritime), and if scuba diving or spearfishing is on your bucket list…just listening to Mark’s stories will excite you! Here is a link to Mark’s website:
Not only was Mark awesome, but holy hot fried walleye cheeks did we have a great class. It was so awesome for dad and me to get out of the dungeon for a couple weeks and spend time with such a savage bunch of baddass fish heads!! We made some great new friends and shared some memories we will never forget. Sounds great right?!?! Well, I suppose so…lol!! As awesome as the course was, we would have to come home at night and work our butts off to ship orders and run the jig engine at red line RPM’s. Then, when we were so tired we didn’t know if we were in ballet lessons or getting our captains license, we had to open up the books and study. Let’s just say we were in full bore hard core mode and the end was nowhere in sight. Then, if things couldn’t get more hectic we had to head to Glasgow for the weekend to Emcee the 30th annual Walleye’s Unlimited Banquet.
As Captain Mark would say “MY NOODLE IS BAKED!!”
Everybody else in the class had weekend plans of hitting the books and charting maps to keep up with the fast pace of the course. On our way to Glasgow we did our best to study flashcards and go over the material. And of course packaged lots of Glass Minnows for all our Fort Peck friends! ALWAYS, one of the best parts about the drive to Glasgow in the spring is the magnificent viewing of the Chinese ring neck pheasant…or as one local Glasgonian called them, “Ditch Parrots.” They are such a proud and elegant bird and they strut with so much authority. They act they rule the roost and stand out so brightly against the wheat field canvas. So between flashcards and packaging it was fun to get an up close wildlife viewing opportunity! Good thing my English setter pup Dixie wasn’t with us or there would be flashcards scattered from Havre to Glasgow!
The next morning came fast and I woke up with my heart beating a million times a minute. I have done some large seminars, but I have never been the Master of Ceremonies for a banquet…let alone a banquet with 600 people!! As the day progressed we had fun visiting with folks at the vendor show and my nerves started to calm a bit. Dad and I gave a great fishing seminar in the afternoon and then it was time to pull up my big boy pants and start the show. We kicked things off with pre-banquet festivities involving games and drawing s, ect. Dad and I went around to the different venues and announced the excitement to be had at each. Then it was time for everybody to be seated and progress to dinner. Then I realized something…I was alone on stage and running the show! What a cool feeling…I felt like the authoritive rooster pheasant from the drive up. And the best part was that I was enjoying myself. So folks, my biggest recommendation is to always face your biggest fears (unless of course, it’s a boxing match with an 800 pound gorilla…don’t do that.) With that being said, I might as well keel over dead because I have now skydived and been the Emcee at a huge banquet…lol! Honestly though, I can remember months in advance being so nervous to do the show…how rewarding and accomplishing a feeling it is to have done it. It was only a few years back I was mortified to talk to a class of twelve students…what a long strange trip it’s been!
One of the highlights of my night (keep in mind I said “my”) was when we were drawing winners for prizes some of the playing cards featured Elvis. Well you know you’ve thrown it all out there when you start talking and singing like Elvis to the crowd. If nothing else…I got a kick out of it and it sounded pretty good echoing through the Valley Event Center. I had a huge help from the Walleye Unlimited crew and Ricky Olsen and Seth Morehouse. Man, like I’ve said a million times before, Glasgow people are the salt of the earth. It is just humbling how so many people can get together for an awesome community fundraising event and have fun. And the Glasgow/ Fort Peck Chapter of Walleye’s Unlimited, with matching contributions, raised almost thirty-four thousand dollars for the Duck Creek fish cleaning station project!! We want to give a huge kudos to all the wonderful and generous folks who donated and to all the volunteers that make this event possible. I walked away from the arena center that night with an exciting new chapter in my life…even my dad looked over and said how proud he was of me.
My first crack at being the Master of Ceremonies for the 30th Annual Glasgow/Fort Peck Walleye’s Unlimited Banquet.
With Glasgow in the rear view mirror we high fived for job well done and then broke the flashcards back out. The entire drive home was “Red, Right, Return”, a CBD (constrained by her draft) is International only, fishing includes trawling but not trolling, always turn starboard and pass port to port in a meeting situation, a map is not a chart but a chart is a map, the difference between “making way” and “underway”, Yellow over yellow=Inland fellow, charting “set” and “drift” to figure your “course made good” from your DR(dead reckoning) line. Alright, alright…I think you get the point! And wow, Mark was right; I did retain a lot of the information. Getting home Sunday afternoon it was straight to the spray booth for a couple fun filled hours of painting jigs then back to the books. Monday morning came very fast and by the end of the day I think dad and I both had a coming to Jesus moment. We had clouds of overwhelming steam pumping out of our ears!! Doing our absolute best to calm our nerves…we held our chins up and hung on for the white water ride! The rest of the week increased in the amount of material to cover, but we kept our noses buried and studied hard. The next thing we knew it was Friday and time for the exams…Captain or Captain Ron, we were ready to put pen to paper!
As we waited patiently in the hall, Mark snuck around the corner looking serious as ever and then flashed us the thumbs up! Talk about losing a load…it felt about as good as dropping a fifty pound pack after a jaunt through the Scapegoat Wilderness! He went to shake my hand and I passed him by and went straight for the hug. What an awesome accomplishment we had just done and for dad and I to be able to do it together. I was talking with my friend Jim Muzynoski about the past two weeks and the wild adventure it had been and he said, “Good thing your young kid, a guy my age could have never made it.” I then realized how much of a trooper dad had been over the course to take on so much. All in all, it was a magical adventure. I sincerely apologize for letting the business slide a touch, but I hope you will all understand. This whole thing has been about a dream of two kids making tackle in a basement and the second the dream dies…Kit’ Tackle dies. And now the dream is as big as ever and ready to take “Jiggin’ the Dream” to the next level.
We don’t plan on being full time guides with our Captain’s license. We just think it will be a great enhancement to the business to share our passion and talents on the water with others. We plan to have the paperwork submitted and all credentials ready to roll by early summer. PLUS, it will be nice to step away from the jig engine to land some big fish with our friends from time to time. So cheers to “Jiggin’ the Dream”, and a true and VERY BUSY dream it has been.
(Written by Trevor Johnson of Kit’s Tackle)