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Legendary fishing guides reunite: Nisswa Guides League going strong for nearly 50 years

Former and current fishing guides with the 48-year-old Nisswa Guides League gather for a photo Sunday, Oct. 9, at a reunion at Grand View Lodge organized by Fred Boos of Grand View. Nancy Vogt/Echo Journal

The Norway Center at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa was abuzz with fish stories and laughter Sunday, Oct. 9. What else would you expect when 20 current and former members of the Nisswa Guides League gathered for a reunion with family and friends?

The gathering included three of the founders of the Nisswa Guides League—fishing "legends" Marv Koep and brothers Ron and Al Lindner. Ron Lindner recounted how they came up with the name while sitting around together 50 years ago.

Other communities had guide services—like the Garrison Guides and the Walker Guides—so the group thought—Nisswa Guides, Lindner said.

"We thought why not call it something classy to identify us from the run of the mill," he said. "We tacked 'League' on and it stuck."

The gathering was spearheaded by Fred Boos, who with his late wife, Mary Cote Boos, managed Grand View Lodge from the early 1960s through 1986. Boos shared with the group something his father once told him:

"Sonny boy, when you read the obituaries before the sports pages, you know you're getting older," he said. "I called Marv (Koep) for this get-together because I was reminiscing about the early days in this business in the early '60s."

Boos said they'd always get calls asking where to golf or where to play tennis. "When it got to fishing, you only had to make one call," he said. "All you had to do was call Marv. So I called Marv and asked if he wanted a reunion."

League member Ray Gildow, who wrote a book about the Nisswa Guides League, told the group: "Forty-nine years ago a group of people started the Nisswa Guides League. These people never did this to become famous. They liked the lakes."

Kevin Koep, son of Marv and Judy Koep, talked about growing up at Koep's Bait Shop on Highway 371 in Nisswa, saying it was a great upbringing.

"When my dad wanted to get rid of me, I didn't get a baby sitter. I got a Nisswa guide," he said, adding, "My biggest claim to fame is I got to clean all of Al Lindner's fish."

He said he guided during a prime time with others' help, and the greatest help was his dad.

"I always had the best bait," he said with a laugh.

Kevin Koep said a lot of stories were being told in the room Sunday night. "That's a lot of what fishing is—telling stories," he said.

The stories will continue as the Nisswa Guides League carries on from its location at S&W Bait and Tackle just north of Brainerd on Highway 371.