Big fish

Ben Christenson, left, and Nick Foss stand next to some paddle boards available at Big Fish Kayaks in Battle Lake. The store opened Saturday, July 3, and rents and sells a variety of water sports equipment.

Summer is here and so is Big Fish Kayaks.

Jay Christenson and Nick Foss, a couple of Hillcrest grads who hail from Otter Tail County, opened the business Saturday, July 4 next to Balmoral Golf Course 8 miles north of Battle Lake on State Highway 78. Right across the highway is the giant Otter Tail Lake.

Christenson is the owner of the seasonal business, while Foss is a cousin who has a lot of experience with kayaks. The idea of opening a kayak business in Minnesota came from Foss’s father, Kevin, who got acquainted with the sport in New York where he serves as a pastor.

Christenson bought the property where Elmer’s Texas Barbeque was located. The father of five boys, Christenson is interested in teaching his offspring the virtues of work and responsibility in the years ahead.

Christenson grew up in Fergus Falls and his family has lived on Otter Tail Lake for 24 years. He has been selling imaging equipment to medical facilities for 23 years.

Otter Tail County’s resident population is approximately 58,000 but during weekends in the summer months that number can increase five times. Throw 1,000 lakes into the mix and the potential for a watersports business is obvious.

Big Fish Kayaks offers kayaks, power boards, paddle boards and tubes for rent and for sale. Their featured product in the fishing kayak – a 12-13 foot, relatively light, shallow draft boat that can be powered, pedaled or paddled. Fishing kayaks also offer adjustable seats, rod holders and depth finders and can give an angler the ability to safely stand up to cast.

“It’s a great time,” said Foss, who believes people will enjoy both fishing and exploring with the kayaks.

COVID-19 has been an obstacle to overcome for the business. The virus has limited the flow of products.

“It’s been a lot of work,” Christenson said. “The biggest problem has been COVID-19 and getting products. It’s affecting everyone.”

The business will be offering demonstration days and fishing seminars in the days and weeks ahead.

Rentals will be arranged on a half-day, full-day and weeklong basis.

Renters can have their rental equipment delivered to their homes or their lakes.

Realizing the attraction of ice cream during the summer months they also plan to open their own shop at Big Fish Kayaks.

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