Like many who have experienced fishing in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, retired Army Sergeant David P. Copeland is no different. He was enjoying a relaxing day of fishing in the Grand Rapids area when he landed a substantial catch.

It was like many other fishing experiences that Sergeant Copeland had encountered before, but this one would have a much different outcome. Sergeant Copeland received a purple heart this year after an IED attack that occurred while in active service in Afghanistan back in 2009. “For as long as I can remember, I have been fishing on lakes around here,” Sergeant Copeland shares. Copeland grew up in Grand Rapids, has grandparents and in-laws who have homes on area lakes that have provided him with a lot of angling action. “I prefer fishing out of a boat, Copeland says, “there are lots of opportunity to fish on land too, like from the banks of rivers.”

Sergeant Copeland’s fondest fishing memories are of him fishing on the end of a dock on Wabana Lake (north of Grand Rapids) fishing with a bare hook and catching one bluegill after another. “I fish every opportunity I get,” he declares.

Sergeant Copeland was out on an area lake just north of Grand Rapids the second week of Minnesota’s fishing season. He was by himself and had caught other fish earlier in the day, but the fish that he had now on his line was not like one he had experienced earlier. Luckily he had his Alaskan custom king salmon rod, which is a heavy-duty rod that would allow him to reel in such a large fish.

“It took fifteen to twenty minutes to bring in the monster northern pike,” Copeland said, “it was amazing that I was able to get it into the boat all by myself with the net I had.” Copeland landed a 21-pound, 12-ounce, 41-inch-long northern pike–the biggest northern pike he had ever caught. Copeland plans to mount the fish.

Tom Neustrom, Frabill Pro Staff, presents David Copeland with a Frabill net.
Tom Neustrom, Frabill Pro Staff, presents David Copeland with a Frabill net.

After learning about Copeland’s monster catch, Tom Neustrom, Visit Grand Rapids spokesperson and Frabill pro staff, presented Copeland with a Frabill Conservation Series Net. “This should insure future successful landings,” said Neustrom.

Copeland prefers bass fishing, but due to the late bass season in Minnesota, he decided to fish for northern pike and walleye. “I caught a 31-1/2-inch, 11-1/2-pound walleye on Deer Lake that is mounted on my wall.” Sergeant Copeland shares, “I believe that Grand Rapids, Minnesota should be known as the Ultimate Fishing Town. There are so many angling opportunities at our 1,000 area lakes.”

Grand Rapids is currently in the running to receive a regional prize in the Ultimate Fishing Town contest being held through World Fishing Network. Vote here: http://www.worldfishingnetwork.com/uft/vote/grandrapids-mn.

Images courtesy Dena Woerner

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