By Frank Vascellaro

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota fishing opener is almost upon us. For fishing guides across the state, the upcoming weekend is a “big one.”

But. if you have ever been lucky enough to share a boat with one particular guide in the Grand Rapids area, you probably came away with more than a good stringer of fish.

That is why Jeff Sundin’s “Early Bird Guide Service” is the Best in Minnesota.

Sundin has been tying jigs for some 33 years, which is … how many jigs, exactly?

“Maybe 10 a day, times 150 days, times 33 years … at least a couple dozen [laughs]!”

jeff sundin WCCO Viewers’ Choice For Best Fishing Guide In Minnesota

Jeff Sundin (credit: CBS)

That sense of humor is kept in the side pocket of this fishing guide’s tackle box, amongst the jigs, spoons and crankbaits ready to be used if the situation calls for it.

“That’s one responsibility that I take seriously, and that’s that everyone should be having a good time,” Sundin said.

Enjoying a day of fishing, without being overly worried about what’s in the livewell, is a trait that runs deep in this former “city kid’s” gene pool.

“The thing that really made a difference to me was my grandparents. My grandma would take us for a walk to a city lake and it didn’t matter what we caught,” Sundin said. “It was just fun, and we were doing it together as a family.”

You can’t do that and not wind up loving something.

In 1985, Sundin’s love for angling grew to the point where he wanted to make it his career. But these days, it’s not all time spent in a boat.

“I get up and write for three or four hours in the morning before I even leave the house,” Sundin said.

Keeping his web page up with timely information, and working on fishing videos, Sundin is a very busy guy these days.

“And came up with this jig that worked pretty good,” he said.

And he has even found time for some product development with the well-known Lindy Tackle Company.

“They make ’em a lot better than I used to make ’em,” Sundin said.

But it is the memories created in the boat with clients he now calls friends that Sundin holds most dear, like guiding Jesse Ventura on his first Governor’s Fishing Opener.

“And when he caught the lake trout he said, ‘I’ll turn it into the state fish. I can do that, you know [laughs]!’” Sundin said.

He just wants fishing to be a fun and positive experience. Whether it’s their first trophy, or a jaw-dropping sunset, Sundin is truly a keeper of his craft.

“I have been unbelievably lucky to be able to make a living at it,” he said.

Frank Vascellaro

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