Trip winners from Deep South rave about visit

Duane Hicks

Rainy Lake—and Rainy River District—played host to a couple from the Deep South this past weekend, and may see more visitors from there in the future once good word of their experiences spread when they get home.
After entering a draw at the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship booth at the 2009 Bassmaster Classic tournament and trade show in Shreveport, La. back in February, Penny and Sam Hesser of Delhi, La. won a weekend stay at Campfire Island on Rainy Lake.
The Hessers, who had never been to the northern U.S., let alone Canada, arrived here last Thursday for a weekend of some of the best fishing of their lives.
“I caught the first fish and the last fish,” smiled Penny, who stopped by the Times office on Monday to chat with Jim Cumming, who helped man the FFCBC booth in Shreveport along with Doug Cain.
During their stay, the Hessers fished for—and caught—northern pike, walleye, and smallmouth bass.
Penny said she was surprised by the size of the fish, adding that until now, the ones she’d caught down south—brim—were only the size of her hand.
She also marvelled at the size of Rainy Lake, adding “that’s the biggest lake I have ever seen in my life.”
“And the vegetation growing out of the rocks (on the islands) was awesome. I had never seen that,” said her husband, Sam.
The Hessers said their stay at Campfire Island was “wonderful,” adding the cooking and overall hospitality were noteworthy.
“They spoiled us rotten,” Penny remarked. “It was like being at home with some friends, you know. They made you feel so at home.”
Sam said the resorts where they’re from aren’t nearly as warm and welcoming.
“We have enjoyed it,” his wife enthused. “We have got to come back.”
Aside from their fishing trip at Campfire Island, the couple also visited International Falls, Emo, and Ross’ Camp on Clearwater-Pipestone.
The Hessers, who departed for Louisiana today, said they took plenty of photos during their stay and will be sure to show them off to family and friends—and let them see for themselves why they should visit Rainy Lake and the surrounding area.
The fishing aside, the Hessers noted some other pleasant details of their stay.
“I keep noticing y’all grow what we consider Christmas trees everywhere,” Penny laughed. “I keep thinking it’s Christmas—we don’t see those kind of trees except at Christmas.”
“The food was different—a little less spicy,” smiled Sam.
“Everyone we’ve met up here has been nice,” added Penny.
She also said the climate’ here is much different. There’s almost no humidity compared to Louisiana, where air conditioning is a necessity.
“We were really surprised when they told us to bring a jacket with you,” noted Penny, adding they had to bring their winter clothes.
At the same time, the Hessers were relieved to be able to sleep with windows open and only a box fan to circulate the fresh air, as opposed to keeping the windows closed and needing an air conditioner to stay cool enough to rest.
They also were impressed with moose, which they don’t have in Louisiana, and the size of the deer, which are smaller in the south.
The couple added their son, who loves to hunt, will be very impressed to see the racks on the mounted deer they took photos of, and likely will want to come up here himself.