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ABOUT FISHING: Roxanne Blanchard: Bit by the fishing bug

Roxanne Blanchard poses with grandson Zachary Hagen and a couple of Alaskan salmon. (Submitted photo)

Roxanne Blanchard, before moving to Park Rapids in 1975, fished casually with her father.

Bit by the fishing bug on Mother's Day 1998 when the Minnesota DNR allowed mothers to fish on their day for free, without a license, Blanchard recalled that day.

"I caught a huge bass by accident, had to release it. Bass season was closed. As the fish swam away, a desire to fish became deeply embedded, hook, line and sinker," she said.

Since that day Roxanne has enjoyed numerous fly-in fishing trips, joined by husband Tiny, son Kyle and a number of close friends and family.

Hosted by the Showalters fly-in fishing service, she's had a handful of trips to Alaska with Anglers Unlimited and journeyed out in the winter from Angle Outpost Resort on Lake of the Woods for ice fishing. Each fishing adventure has a different appeal for Blanchard — riding on the bombardier, visiting with strangers enroute to and from warm fish houses, enjoying fishing with the beautiful, pristine wilderness of Alaska as a backdrop or flying into the remote Canadian fishing lakes pursuing walleyes and lake trout.

Looking back, Roxanne said, "Tiny was first to experience Alaska, joining a group from Citizens National Bank in 2012. He came back so enthused about the whole experience. I wanted to go to Alaska so bad, but Tiny cautioned me that he didn't think my wrists could take the fight of the big fish."

Three years later, the Blanchards would celebrate their 25th anniversary in Sitka, Alaska. Ping-pong-ball-sized weights are used to get the bait entrails of previously caught salmon into 50 to 500 feet of water. Although heavy, Roxanne's wrists handled fish and weights just fine.

Roxanne enjoys fishing with Tiny, Kyle and other members of the family, such as grandson Zach Hansen. Zach has served as a deckhand for a number of summers on a Alaskan fishing boat. Blanchard adds, "The most exciting aspect of fishing, no matter where I fish, is the bite, particularly while halibut fishing. One never knows what might be on the end of the line. Reeling in the fish is overestimated, in my opinion. "

Remote Canadian fishing lakes have a far different appeal to Blanchard. "They fly you in, drop you off with all the food gear necessary for your stay. You're totally on your own, with a follow-up visit if a first-timer to the area. Tiny and I typically fish in the morning, come in for lunch. I might stay in and join him for a few hours in the evening," says Blanchard.

Roxanne uses a hand-held golf clicker to track the number of fish caught on every fishing trip. On her trips to Canada, she leaves journals in the cabins they occupy, with a note encouraging others to share their experiences and successes by writing in the journals.

The Blanchards have met a lot of nice people from all over the country, she said, and still stay in contact with a few from New York and Tennessee.

Tiny and Roxanne look forward to times spent together, just the two of them catching and eating fish, such as salmon, halibut — and the Blanchard favorite — Canadian walleyes.

Roxanne has certainly enjoyed a lot of fishing since those first days with her father. The excitement she shares for the sport of fishing is so contagious to anyone that spends time around her.

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