Want to cruise around Big Stone Lake and enjoy the view or land a nice walleye? If you are a senior, a veteran, or have a disability, you might think that’s impossible. Big Stone Lake Fish & Ride makes it possible!
The non-profit started in 2005 and was formerly called Let’s Go Fishing, but the two share the same goal. “There’s a large group of people who are unable to get out on the lake,” says Jeannie Kanten, secretary for the organization of over 25 volunteers.
If you decide to book a trip with Fish & Ride, you’ll relax in comfort on a 24-foot pontoon. It sports a 90-horsepower motor and can accommodate 10 riders on each outing – including two in wheel chairs. A captain and first mate go on each excursion, and all undergo training, as do all the drivers. As you travel around the lake, you’ll glide by the South Dakota State Park (The Island), Pelican Island, and Manhattan Island. Each trip usually lasts around two hours, but shorter trips are available and departure times vary. It’s all weather-permitting, of course, as winds need to be less than 10 miles per hour.
This season, Fish & Ride has seen an appreciable increase in the number of tours booked. One couple even held their wedding onboard in July. (Captain of the Day and president of the group, Lee Kanten, performed music for the bride and groom and their guests.)
Although there’s no charge to ride, the group gladly accepts donations. Indeed, the pontoon was purchased with donations. The volunteers host an annual fish fry in April at the Big Stone Legion to raise money and rely on gifts and support from local businesses and dedicated donors. All funds go to maintenance, fuel, and miscellaneous expenses. The group has a dock and boat lift that also require upkeep.
Tom Dory is the Boat Master and holds a Boat Master license in inland waters in the state of Minnesota. Dory also lives across from the peninsula and public boat landing and launch where Fish & Ride moors the vessel. He is their go-to guy when it’s time to get the pontoon in the water at the start of the season and again when it’s time to put it to bed for the winter. He also helps keep her in tip- top shape during the summer.
Rides stretch into fall until the weather stops cooperating and they begin in the spring when Mother Nature decides. When you book your trip, you will most likely talk with Maureen, the coordinator. She will ask, “Do you want to fish or just ride?” Groups are welcome and often are gathered from Fairway View senior housing and Divine House.
If you enjoy the outdoors and want to see someone else enjoy this experience, you can help. Volunteer! The group welcomes young and old alike. Call Maureen at 701.520.3761.
If you would like to book an outing. also call Maureen at 701-520-3761.