Marv Koep was on his way home Monday with 10 nice sunnies when he stopped to visit an old friend.
After a few minutes of conversation, Koep showed the 83-year-old man his fish, then asked if he wanted to catch a few of his own.
"I wanted to go back and fish some more," Koep said the next day. "I helped him cast and baited his hooks. He caught a couple nice ones, but I think I had more fun. If someone catches fish while I'm along, well, that's what makes it fun."
The above quote might serve as a working creed for all fishing guides, and when it comes to guiding, few have done it longer or better than Marv Koep.
A career spanning more than 40 years will be the topic of conversation Wednesday night when Koep addresses the annual Brainerd Elks Fishing Fling. The Fling gets under way 5 p.m. at the Elks building on South Fourth St. Tickets are $25.
"I can't really call it work," Koep said, reflecting on his career. "It's always just been fun. If nothing else I was always guiding my wife and kids."
Koep ran a successful bait and tackle shop on Highway 371 for 31 years. The shop was practically an automatic stop for weekend fishermen heading up the highway. If they didn't need bait and tackle then they needed to spend a few minutes shooting the breeze with Marv.
"I don't miss the business," Koep said, "but I do miss the people."
Customers knew Koep had better information on where the fish were biting than anybody in the area. But, when they tried to pin him down on his favorite lakes, or specific spots, well, that's when Marv played dodgeball.
"Never had a favorite lake," he said. "If the fish are good to me when I'm fishing there then that's my favorite lake. And, there's no such thing as a secret spot. If you see someone catching fish and the next time you go by and he's not there, then, of course, you stop and give it a try. We all do it.
"Some spots are good for a few years and then for some reason they turn off. Then a couple years later they're good again. That's the advantage to spending a lot of time on the water. You can put it all together."
Koep has never let himself get stuck in time. He continues to buy and use the latest gear and said he's waiting on delivery of a new Lowrance color graph. One thing hasn't changed, however.
"A good trip now is the same as a good trip 40 years ago," Koep said. "It's just the technology that's changed.
"When the underwater cameras first came out I took one out on Pelican and spent 12 hours just looking around. I never put a line in the water. I was looking at spots I'd fished for 30 years, spots I had in my mind about how they looked. Now I could really see. It was quite an eye opener.
"One thing I learned is that I've spent a lot of time fishing for suckers. They sure look like walleyes on the depthfinder."
Koep jokes about someday writing a book titled, "The 100 People You Don't Want To Fish With."
"At the top of the list," he said, "is the guy who does everything wrong and still out-fishes me. I have plenty of candidates for the cover. I might say their names Wednesday night, so they better be there to defend themselves."
VINCE MEYER, Dispatch outdoors editor, can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5862.
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