Peter “Rocky” Rognlie has been lending his nickname to a youth fishing event in June with the help of some fellow sportsmen.

June 19 will see “Rocky’s Fishin’ Friends” taking to the lakes after a one-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Putting the event together with the help and sponsorship of the Lake County Sportsmen’s Club has been a wonderful gift for Catherine Barner. Her son loved to hunt and fish growing up. The family would summer on Otter Tail Lake and the Fargo boy would spend most of his time on the water.

“He loved to take kids fishing,” Barner recalls.

After losing her 54-year-old son in August of 2011 in a motorcycle crash in Utah, Barner found herself looking for a way to pass on his love of the outdoors to the younger set. She approached the Lake County Sportsmen’s Club with an idea for a fishing event that would be pure fun.

“They just wrapped their arms around the idea,” Barner said.

One of the people who made the event go is Gary Harrington. When Barner approached the club with her idea Harrington was just wrapping up three years as club president.

“It’s just a wonderful event,” Harrington said.

Using the talents of what he jokingly calls “older” and “seasoned” anglers in the club, Harrington can boast that the Lake County Sportsmen’s Club has put 225-250 boys and girls ages 6-14 on the water over the years for a day of fishing. They come from communities all over the area according to Harrington. Some of the anglers have even included the sons and daughters of Otter Tail County summer tourists.

The group assembles in the morning at Phelps Mill on the day of the event then heads out to lakes where boat captains have already found fishing hotspots. After a few hours on the water they return to Phelps Mill to clean and eat their catch. Their fishing equipment and bait is supplied and families are invited to join the anglers cleaning and eating the fish.

Hot dogs and hamburgers are also on the menu and a lot of food is brought to the picnic by family members.

Harrington said the event has enjoyed amazing luck with the weather and the fish fry afterward has drawn up to 120 people.

Sponsors make sure the kids leave happy.

For Barner and her family it has always been a very special day.

“It’s knowing the kids are having a good time fishing that is the highlight,” she said.

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