One of the younger colourful characters of the guiding industry passed away this weekend after a long battle with kidney diseas

Al Meline, even to his end, believed he had another day of fishing on Lake of the Woods. Fishing was his passion, and any day he spent fishing was the best day of his life.
After he had lost the use of his first kidney, and was on dialysis, Alan and Sandy, his best friend and wife, established Meline’s Resort at the foot of Nestor Falls. It was Al’s lifelong dream to own a resort and together they took on the challenge.
It was a large undertaking. It began with building a new main lodge and then rebuilding each of the guest cottages. And he filled those cabins with guests and friends he had made in a lifetime of fishing with them.
When Al took you on a guided tour, everything about tourism and the opportunities that existed in the industry burst forth from his mouth. He was an optimist but most fishermen are, by nature, because every day is a new day to fish and every new location has the potential to catch fish.
On a day of fishing with Al, we stopped and had shore lunch with another party. Al’s lunch was fresh fried walleye on a big bun, freshly baked at the bakery and topped with his own secret recipe tartar sauce, potatoes, and beans.
It was a true gourmet meal.
That particular trip, a fire ban was on and so the meal was cooked over a propane grill. But on others, the meal was cooked over an open fire.
As everyone sat around, Al began telling stories. They were the stories of fishing. The stories of large muskie, and the interesting guests that he had met and guided—having started into the business at the same time he could get a driver’s license.
They were told with humour and warmth.
We were spellbound and that quick shore lunch meandered into a two-hour lunch. We were all well-entertained.
Perhaps the best story he told was of fishing for crappie with his granddaughter, Katelynn. She called him “Papa,” and the two were out in a heated fishing shack one January jigging for crappie and being quite successful—even though something was always trying to pull Katie’s rod from her hands.
She’d call to her “Papa” to save her rod—and Al would pull up another fish.
And at the bass tournament in Fort Frances, even in poor health, Al found the time to come and mingle with the crowds. He warmed to people, and he was among those who were instrumental in finding anglers to fish the first years of the tournament.
From his experience of fishing the In-Fishermen walleye tournaments, he volunteered to travel to bass tournaments in Minnesota and Wisconsin to persuade his buddies to come up and fish Rainy Lake.
They came. And when they discovered what a great fishery the lake had, they spread the word and the tournament filled up.
I never spent enough days fishing with Al to hear all his stories and tales, but the memories of the days spent fishing with him will be long remembered.

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