In my early twenties, I got a case of what I like to call "adult onset outdoorsing." Better late than never, right? I'm now 30 years old and a proud angler. I also enjoy hunting, camping, canoeing, hiking, and nature photography.
For most of my life, the word angler wasn't even in my vocabulary. After all, I didn't grow up in an outdoorsy family. My parents and I moved to Minnesota from South Korea when I was 3 years old, and it was hard enough for us to acclimate and try to fit in. My mom and dad took English classes and worked odd jobs that didn't require speaking, including on an overnight cleaning crew.
We settled in the Twin Cities suburb of Woodbury. It was a great place to be a kid, go to school, and make friends. Plus, we had one of the best shopping centers around—every teenager's dream! You are who you surround yourself with, and I don't recall ever having a friend who was into the outdoors. I did get a taste of camping in middle school, when my parents bought a pop-up camper and took us on a summer-long tour of national parks and RV campsites. Maybe I was being a bratty 7th grader, but I didn't think it was cool to go RV camping at the time.
Fast-forward to my first job out of college. I was a news reporter for a TV station in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The station's viewers included outdoor enthusiasts, and I remember trudging through the woods in blaze orange with my camera, interviewing hunters about safety. Another time I nervously drove the news car onto a frozen lake. With camera, tripod, and microphone in hand, I went door to door in an ice-fishing shantytown to interview anglers. I asked a lot of questions, both as a reporter and as a curious outsider. I wanted to learn more about the outdoors.
During my time as a reporter, I met a fellow Minnesotan named Nick. He had just taken up ice fishing, and he challenged me to learn along with him. Nick and I started dating, and soon I was setting up my own tip-ups and pulling walleyes out of Lake Eau Claire. Nick became my mentor in fishing, and fishing became my gateway to the outdoors.
Once I discovered my knack for fishing, I wanted more. Nick and I eventually married and moved back to Minnesota to be closer to our families. We bought a house in Blaine, which provides easy highway access to the north woods. My newfound interest in fishing led to Boundary Waters trips, where I trolled for monster lake trout in a canoe. It took me backcountry camping through Superior National Forest, where I saw my first northern lights. It led me to an old camper on Craigslist, which Nick and I turned into a cozy fish house we call the "Lil Hotdish" (take that, teenage me!). Fishing also sparked my recent interest in deer and pheasant hunting.
Curiosity and inspiration brought me outdoors. But Nick's mentorship ultimately sealed the deal. I wish I could have found a fishing mentor sooner. I would have that many more hours under my belt canoeing through the BWCA—one of my favorite places in the world. I was in the BWCA when I found out I was pregnant with my son. I had calculated that the first day I could take a pregnancy test would be while we were in the Boundary Waters, so I slipped a pregnancy stick into one of our canoe packs. Lo and behold, Harlan arrived nine months later.
Since his birth, Harlan has gone boat fishing on several Twin Cities lakes and has even taken his first BWCA trip. I am so excited to give Harlan the opportunity to love and appreciate the outdoors as much as I do. And you can bet we're taking him RV camping in the Lil Hotdish—even if he doesn't think it's cool.
Jenny Anderson posts on the outdoors on Instagram @girlof10000lakes.