by Dennis Dalman
Father-and-son duo Rian and Cole Hofstad didn’t get any fishing fun during Rian’s overseas military deployment, but they sure are making up for lost time.
And 5-year-old Cole, a Sartell resident, is proving himself to be quite the fishing champ.
He recently won first-place in the “Fishing for Life” contest on Lake Minnetonka. At that event, he nabbed a bunch of nice-sized fish, including bluegills, crappies and rock bass.
Fishing for Life is a free tournament for military members, who are encouraged to bring children.
A couple weeks earlier, at another tournament on Bald Eagle Lake, Cole won an award in the “Largest Panfish” category. That day, he, his father and their fishing guide fished a spot where Cole caught nine sunfish. A bit later, seeking walleyes and bass, all the anglers caught were some small perch. At that point, Cole convinced the two men they should go back to their first spot because he wanted to try for more sunnies. Back at the spot, it wasn’t long before Cole landed a whopping .91-pound sunfish. The fishing guide nabbed a nice 4.5-pound walleye. At the end of the day, Coles’ biggest sunnies weighed in at 1.54 pounds. They, along with the guide’s walleye, won the category of “Boat with the Biggest Fish.”
If there is such a thing as an inborn knack for fishing, Cole’s got it. Two years ago, when he was only 3, Cole started fishing with his father and his grandfather, Ron Schmitz of St. Cloud. From the first fish nibble, Cole was happily hooked. By the end of that summer, he’d learned to cast for himself. He was such a fishing enthusiast, he would spend hours on the lawn of his grandparents’ house, doing imaginary fishing by casting and then reeling in leaves and sticks, his autumnal “catches.”
This summer Cole became an “expert” using his new open-face reel.
“He can correctly name every fish he gets into that boat,” said his father.
“He knows more about how and when to catch a fish than just about anyone I know,” said his mother, Dawn. “He caught on so quick.”
This past summer was Cole’s happiest fishing time ever because after a long absence he and his father were back together again – in a boat on a big lake, fishing to their hearts’ content. Rian Hofstad, a National Guard member, had been deployed overseas from June 2011 to April 2012 – first in Iraq, then in Kuwait. He is a member of Company HHC, 1-194th Combined Arms Battalion, headquartered in Brainerd. Hofstad is a full-time worker for that company.
Cole’s brother, Henry, who is 3, is “not a fisherman yet,” his mother said, putting an emphasis on the word “yet.”
Both boys were, of course, thrilled to see their father again after his long absence. They look forward to many more happy times together now that their daddy is finally back home where he belongs.