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Cook dad and daughter make opener a tradition

Only one scores big, but both enjoy the day together

David Colburn
Posted 5/20/21

COOK- It’s a family tradition Mimi Babiracki, of Cook, has known almost all of her life, spending the early morning hours of the fishing opener out on Lake Vermilion with her dad, John. And if …

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Cook dad and daughter make opener a tradition

Only one scores big, but both enjoy the day together

Posted

COOK- It’s a family tradition Mimi Babiracki, of Cook, has known almost all of her life, spending the early morning hours of the fishing opener out on Lake Vermilion with her dad, John. And if recent success is any guide, seasoned anglers may want to pay attention to what the 13-year-old is tossing out there.
John took her out for the first time when Mimi was only four.
“She’s always said yes every time I’ve asked her if she wants to go out in the morning,” John said. “This time I said how about we go out at 5:45, and she said how about we go out at 4:45. I said no, 5:45 is early enough for your dad. But it’s been every year and we’ve had a great time with it.”
Their excursions don’t last long – as manager of the family-owned Head-O-Lakes Resort on the west end of the lake, John has to be back to open up at 8 a.m. But Mimi seems to have developed a knack for getting the most out of their time together.
Two years ago, she hauled in the catch of the day, using a mustard-colored jig to haul in a 27-1/2” walleye.
“That’s her opening morning tradition, using that mustard-colored jig,” John said.
After Saturday, that part of the tradition may never change. Only on the water about 20 minutes, Mimi used the same jig to pull an even bigger walleye out of Woody’s Cove. This one measured 28-1/4”.
“Two years ago, I told her she might never top that,” John said. “I’ve got friends who have fished religiously their whole lives and they haven’t gotten to that 28-inch wall.”
The catch might not have happened, though, if not for some quick action by John.
“The line snapped before she got it to the top, but the fish didn’t realize it, so it wasn’t fighting,” John said. “So, I reached that net down as far as I could reach into the water, up to my elbow, and got underneath it and we got it.”
It was a big fish, to be sure, but not quite big enough to wrest the family record away from John.
“The conversation on Saturday was, ‘What’s your biggest walleye, Dad?’” John said, noting that his biggest was 28-1/2”. “She was like, we could have squeezed more out of it, but I said no, you still have exactly a quarter-inch to beat your daddy. She wants to take me down.”
The walleye that Mimi caught two years ago is mounted and hanging on a wall, but the pair agreed at the time that the next fish to become a trophy would have to be over 30 inches, something John had to remind Mimi of on Saturday.
“She asked if we were going to mount it and I said no, it’s almost there, but let’s put it back and maybe next year it’ll be that 30-inch walleye you’re looking for.”
And while it was “mission accomplished” for Mimi, John didn’t fare as well.
“I caught a little perch, but I didn’t catch a single walleye,” he said. “About ten minutes after she caught it, she was like, ‘We can go home whenever you like, Dad.’ She got her satisfaction from this, and she’s like ‘I’m good.’ It was a successful day.”
And now that the cute little four-year-old has grown up to become a successful angling teen, John has another conundrum, one he’ll resolve all in his good time, not Mimi’s.
“She keeps bugging me to let her take a boat out on her own and go fishing – I haven’t gotten to that point yet,” he laughed.

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