WILLMAR - In Duluth, they wait for the arrival of the first saltie in the harbor to know that spring has come.
On Green Lake in Spicer, watch for the launch of the first Let's Go Fishing pontoon boats to know that big things will follow.
The Willmar chapter of Let's Go Fishing has scheduled its first launch of its 18th season on May 15, but a date of equal importance comes this Saturday. That's when the local organization holds its annual volunteer recruitment meeting from 10 to noon at the Elks in Willmar.
It takes a lot of hands on deck to make Let's Go Fishing possible, according to Rick Reimer, president of the Willmar chapter. He said the organization's success owes entirely to the volunteers who make possible all of the outings on area waters.
He invites anyone with an interest in helping the organization to attend the meeting, or to check out the volunteer opportunities on the organization's website. "You don't have to be a captain of the boat" to help out, he said.
Volunteers are always welcome to help out in whatever way feels best, he explained. Deck hands are always needed, even those who don't care to bait a hook or touch a fish, he said.
Let's Go Fishing volunteers provide fishing and boating excursions to senior citizens, youth and veterans as well as people with disabilities. Last year the organization hosted just over 2,000 people, and has its sights on serving as many this year as well, Reimer said.
There is no overstating the rewards that come with helping others on the water. Reimer, an avid angler, said he got involved as a way to pay back his grandfather who had first introduced him to fishing. Now, he said, he has just as much fun playing a role in introducing others to fishing and spending time on the water. There's no hiding the enjoyment they experience, he said.
The local chapter operates three pontoons. Most outings take place on Green Lake, but there are also excursions on Big Kandiyohi and other area lakes.
Reimer said volunteers include men and women from throughout the region, and everyone with a desire to help others is welcome.