Corey Verdoljak was a carpenter, building houses for 20 years, when he decided to do something completely different.
The Superior native and his wife, Brianna, tore off the Twin Ports to claim Alaska as a pilot. Only he found something he loved even more than stealing.
“Fishing,” he said without hesitation.
Based in the incredibly picturesque ocean town of Homer at the southern end of the Kenai Peninsula, the Verdoljaks have launched Alaskan Adventures Guides and Outfitters, a charter fishing service specializing in halibut, salmon and redfish.
If you have a dream of open water and big, big fish, Verdoljak can probably set you up. You can meet him Wednesday through Sunday at the 53rd Duluth Boat, Sports and Travel Show, and Deer Classic at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center – one of hundreds of exhibitors, many from Northland.
Most of us who spend time outdoors have at some point dreamed of living and working on the outdoor adventures we love the most. Most of us don’t take the leap, but the Verdoljaks have.
“It was fun. It’s a lot easier on the body than building houses,” Corey said of his outfitting business which offers various sea fishing trips from May through September.
“I’ve always wanted to do this since I was little,” he added, noting that it wasn’t all big fish and easy money. “It was a very difficult first season, but everything is going well now.
Verdoljak said his biggest surprise was the amount of year-round water work it took “from maintenance to permits, licenses and insurance.”
Superior’s Corey Verdoljak runs a charter fishing operation in Homer, Alaska. Contribution photo.
Now six years in the charter fishing scene – with a new 32ft aluminum boat purchased in 2016 with twin 300 horsepower engines – Verdoljak, 42, plans to put his pilot training to work this year, by offering day trips for airplane flights. fish in some of Alaska’s inland waterways and lakes. He has a Cessna 185 on floats ready to go.
“We’ll see how it works,” he said.
Verdoljak, his wife and 20 month old son still return to Northland every winter, now with a place in Brule. But he admits he spends more and more time in Alaska every year.
Most of his clients are from the Midwest, he notes, and many are from the Northland. He gets a lot of clients through his face to face interactions at the sports show. About 40 percent of his bookings are repeat customers, he noted.
“Duluth is by far the best show for us, better than Minneapolis,” he said. “There are a lot of talkers out there. They don’t necessarily go fishing, they just like to talk about it. People here really want to go.”
Once in Homer, rates range from $ 275 to $ 390 per person per day for charter fishing. For more information, see Verdoljak at the boat show or visit fishandflyalaska.com.
Cotton couple love the Ontario beach resort lifestyle
Robin Soderlund said the past twelve years “have been the most difficult I have ever worked. It is the most physical job I have ever had. But we are probably the happiest we have ever been. “
This is what spending much of the year on a Canadian Shield lake will do for you.
Robin and her husband Wayne Soderlund bought the Barker Bay Resort on Lower Manitou Lake in Ontario 12 years ago and have never looked back. Born and raised in Duluth, the couple have lived in the Cotton / Canyon area since 1975. Robin, now 65, was a nurse. Wayne, 64, worked in logging. They decided they wanted to try something completely different.
Step Ferguson, a guest at Barker Bay Resort, with a lovely lake trout caught on Lower Manitou Lake. Contribution photo.
They searched for five years before they found “the right place”. This was the Barker Bay Resort, a resort accessible by boat (or plane) located just over an hour’s drive from the border at International Falls and then a 20-minute boat ride from the lodge. You can bring your own boat or they will pick you up from the pier.
They are open in winter for ice fishing for trout and pike and remain open each fall for bear and grouse hunting. In the middle is a long summer of lake trout, smallmouth, pike and muskellunge fishing. (There are walleye in the lake as well.)
“There has been a big increase in our winter activities. I think a lot of people like the adventure aspect of having to snowmobile,” she said. “And the fishing was great.”
The lodge has four nearby cabins and operates two outpost cabins five miles from the 32,000 acre lake lake which has 55 miles of usable water.
Robin Soderlund said a large part of their business is made up of Northerners who return year after year not only to fish but also to experience the Northwoods wilderness.
“There are only three small resorts on this huge lake and a few cabins, so it’s very quiet, very remote. You get a very wild experience,” she said. “I think my favorite part of this is when people come home happy and looking forward to their next trip, not only because they caught a lot of fish, but because they loved the whole experience. The lake , wildlife, sunsets. “
It’s the view out of the lodge window every morning – winter and summer – that Robin loves most about the resort lifestyle.
Wayne has been a good candidate as a repairman and jack of all trades while Robin has managed the sports broadcasts circuit and his work in a shared lodge. Most of the time, they are the only employees at the resort. There are no dockers or maintenance staff.
“It’s a lot of work. We don’t fish a lot because we are still working,” she said. “But it’s okay. It’s a very beautiful place. It’s worth getting up and looking at this lake every morning.”
If the couple have any regrets, it’s because they didn’t switch to the hotel business when they were younger. “We were already in our fifties and it took us a few years to figure it all out,” she said.
The couple have featured the Barker Bay Resort at the Duluth Boat Show for at least 10 years, she noted, as well as shows in Chicago, LaCrosse and Minneapolis. The Duluth show appears to produce the best results, she noted.
Rates at Barker Bay Resort range from $ 65 per night / per person for a cabin with housekeeping in the winter to $ 85 per night / per person for a cabin with housekeeping in our outpost cabin in the summer. A full-service American plan with meals, round-trip transportation from the lodge to the pier, and boat and motor rental costs $ 235 per day / per person.
For more information, see Robin Soderlund at the boat show or visit barkerbay.com.
More at the boat show:
Lowrance University of Electronics
Lowrance Marine Electronics University is back at the Duluth Sports Show this year. Participants can learn from Lowrance experts as they lead a hands-on workshop using Lowrance HDS GEN3 Touch units. Sessions will include instruction on everything from routine set-up and product use to news on cutting-edge technologies such as CHIRP sonar and Insight Genesis Mapping. You will also hear about new products. Classes will be held at noon and 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at noon on Sunday in Room 1 Gooseberry. To reserve your spot, call Marine General 218-724-8833. Registration for the show will be done at the Marine General kiosk, subject to availability. Class sizes are limited, so register early. The cost is $ 25 per person (in addition to admission to the show), but includes a $ 25 certificate redeemable at Marine General.
Extreme raptor show
In 1996, master falconer and wildlife rehabilitator Jonathan Wood founded Raptor Project Inc. to train and care for the world’s largest traveling collection of birds of prey, featuring raptors of a wide variety of ‘habitats and countries. Since 2011, he has produced the Extreme Raptors Show, featuring the world’s largest collection of birds of prey. The shows are at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and at 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday and 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Free with entry to the show.
Johnathan Hillstrand, star of “Deadliest Catch”
Fans of Discovery Channel’s hit TV series Deadliest Catch can meet one of the stars, Johnathan Hillstrand, on the sports show. Hillstrand is the captain and co-owner of Time Bandit, a 113-foot commercial crab fishing vessel. Hillstrand was born and raised in Alaska and started fishing at the age of seven and became a full time fisherman after high school. He will meet with guests at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday and at noon, 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday. Free with entry to the show.
Village of Young Pheasants Forever
Pheasants Forever educates and engages youth in the Northland Outdoors Duluth Deer Classic by bringing their Pheasants Forever youth village with safe archery and slingshot games. Free with entry to the show.
If you go: 53rd edition of the Duluth Boat, Sports and Travel Show and Deer Classic
What: Check out the latest boats, RVs, ATVs, resorts, outfitters, hunting and fishing gear, hands-on seminars and more.
When: Wednesday to February 17 5 pm-9pm Wednesday and Thursday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on February 17.
Where: Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, 350 Harbor Drive.
Additional Information: Adults, $ 10; students aged 6 to 17, $ 6; under 5, free. Parking at DECC is $ 5. Discount coupons of $ 2 on adult tickets Wednesday through Friday are available at several merchants in the Duluth area or at minnesotasportshow.com.