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Walk for Let's Go Fishing

Quality Bait & Tackle owners Glenda and John Store (pictured with Tim Miller, left) have provided bait for all LGF excursions for the last five years. Photo by - Brian Basham1 / 2
The Detroit Lakes Area Chapter of Let's Go fishing had a permanent home for its pontoon, the S.S. Sukke, this past summer, thanks to the Holiday Inn, Detroit Lakes, which provided the pontoon slip, and At Ease Dock & Lift, Frazee, which provided the lift for the watercraft. Pictured: Tim Miller, LGF vice president; John Drewes and Mike Grandbois, At Ease Dock & Lift; and Jeff Jasperson, Holiday Inn. Photo by - Brian Basham2 / 2

It's been a big summer for the Detroit Lakes Area Chapter of Let's Go Fishing.

"We've had a record-breaking year," said chapter secretary Betty Hochhalter. "Last Wednesday was our 100th trip of the season, and this week we have one more trip scheduled."

Weather permitting, of course. The chapter will continue to schedule trips through the end of September each year if Mother Nature cooperates.

"There's one more group that wants to go out yet this year, and we would like to get them out on the water if we can," Hochhalter said, noting that if both this week's group and the other prospective trip went out as scheduled, that would bring their trip total for the year to 102.

What makes it even more special is that all LGF trips are offered free of charge to the participants, due to season sponsorships by businesses and organizations as well as donations from the community.

Now in its second year, the chapter's only major fundraiser, the Walk for Let's Go Fishing, is set to take place on Saturday, Oct. 6, from 10 to 11 a.m., outside the Pavilion in the Detroit Lakes City Park.

A registration booth will be set up behind the flags at the Pavilion, on the city beach, starting at 9 a.m. The walk begins there, takes a loop around the park, proceeds down the city beach walkway from one end to the other, and then ends back at the Pavilion.

"It's just about 2 miles," Hochhalter said. "Anyone who wants to come down and walk with us is welcome."

The main purpose, however, is to raise funds for Let's Go Fishing, so any walker who raises $100 in pledges will get a free t-shirt, Hochhalter noted.

The goal of the walkers is to raise at least $7,500 -- the estimated annual expenses that the chapter incurs for boating excursions, from gas and repairs to boat insurance and fishing supplies.

And then, there's the expense of the pontoon itself.

"We hope to pay off the pontoon next spring," Hochhalter said.

Of course, the group's expenses would be much higher if it wasn't for season sponsorships and donations by businesses such as the Holiday Inn, At Ease Dock & Lift and Quality Bait & Tackle.

"John and Glenda Store, owners of Quality Bait & Tackle, have provided free bait for all of our fishing trips for the past five years, out of the goodness of their hearts," said Tim Miller, vice president of the local LGF chapter.

At Ease Dock & Lift has provided the lift for LGF's pontoon, while Holiday Inn has provided the slip that it sits in, for the past several summers -- also free of charge, Miller noted.

"Holiday Inn will be making its dock handicap accessible next summer, which will help us with our excursions too," he added.

"If it weren't for them, we'd still be backing in and out of the lake 100 times a summer," Hochhalter said. "We did that the first couple of years, but hopefully we're past that stage now."

Another group that has been more than generous with their time and donations since the group's inception is the family of the late Paul Sukke, who along with current president Dave Hochhalter, was a co-founder of the local LGF chapter.

"He passed away while this chapter was just a dream -- a dream that became a reality," said Betty Hochhalter. "Our pontoon is named the S.S. Sukke in his honor."

Sukke's widow, Madalyn, and their family formed a team to participate in last year's inaugural walk for LGF, and Hochhalter said they are one of the 13 teams already signed up for this year's event.

"You don't have to have a team to sign up though," she added. In fact, they will take individual or team registrations on the day of the event as well.

The Oct. 6 walk will be followed by an awards ceremony and chili feed for all walkers and LGF volunteers starting at approximately 11 a.m., in the city park shelter closest to Washington Avenue.

"Anyone who would like to volunteer for the walk, or any of our trips next year, or would like any information whatsoever about LGF, either Dave or I would be more than willing to visit with them," Hochhalter said.

"We're here to create lasting memories and smiles for those who participate, and to help bring the community together," she added. "Any time or dollars donated to LGF, it comes back to you twofold, at least. It's like paying it forward."

For more information about the organization in general, you can visit the Detroit Lakes LGF Facebook page, or the website,

For more information about the walk itself, please call Betty Hochhalter, 218-847-5670, Jane Miller, 2187-846-1444, Loretta Fuglesten, 218-844-5106, or Kathy Klindt, 218-439-6293.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454