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If Bakken can catch a walleye, 'capital of world' title's a keeper

Baudette, Minn., has secured the state trademark to the title of "Walleye Capital of the World." Now it's going for the national trademark. "It's not official yet," said Gregg Hennum, owner of Sportsman's Lodge and treasurer of the Lake of the Wo...

Baudette, Minn., has secured the state trademark to the title of "Walleye Capital of the World."

Now it's going for the national trademark.

"It's not official yet," said Gregg Hennum, owner of Sportsman's Lodge and treasurer of the Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau.

"It's filed, in progress and basically a done deal."

If the national trademark is granted, the Lake of the Woods organization could sue in federal court to prevent unauthorized use of the trademark.

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"We don't want to create any enemies," Hennum said. "But it's a business."

Since there are at least nine other cities that claim they're the walleye capital of the world, including five others in Minnesota alone, would the tourism group actually sue?

"We're not saying yes or no," Hennum said. "We just want to put ourselves on the map for marketing purposes and see what happens from there.

"We feel we have the fishery to back up the claim."

Well, there is resistance from inside Minnesota's borders. Judy Cain, executive director of Mille Lacs Area Tourism Association, stood up for her walleye-producing lake in Sunday's Minneapolis Star Tribune.

"You can call yourself whatever you want to," said Cain, whose organization represents two towns that claim to be the world's walleye capital. "People know where to go to catch fish. People know what their own personal capitals are."

There's one sure-fire way to solve this spat. It's this: Put me on a lake.

If I catch any walleye longer than a guppy, that lake can be deemed the Walleye Capital of the Solar System, or the Walleye Capital of the Milky Way, or even the Walleye Capital of Everywhere the Starship Enterprise, Captain Kirk and Spock Traveled.

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I'm inept at many things. But my greatest ineptness may be fishing at least the "catching" part of fishing.

The first part of my ineptitude is luck. If this global warming thing gets serious, a quick solution would be to put me in a boat. You wouldn't believe the cold front that soon would arrive.

My second shortcoming is skill. On the rare occasions that the fish actually are biting, I can't detect it. My minnow is usually halfway through the digestive tract before I recognize a fish is nibbling.

My third major fishing problem is the waking-up-in-the-morning part. One of my family's favorite photographs is of me standing, slump-shouldered, on the dock next to brother and brother-in-law holding up a walleye so big that Herman Melville would have written a novel about it. While they were catching it, I was still sleeping.

Although I'm clearly the best Lenten fish fry salesperson on the planet, you don't want me in charge of catching the entree. If I could land even one keeper, the lake where it happened would unquestionably be known as the Walleye Capital of the World.

Or, perhaps, the Suicidal Walleye Capital of the World.

Bakken reports on local news and writes a column. Reach him at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or rbakken@gfherald.com .

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