Since not all of my readers are here in the Upper Midwest where I live, I will do a brief explanation of what Bob Mitchell's Fly Shop is. Bob Mitchell's is the oldest fly shop in the Twin Cities metro area. From 1978 to 1994 it was owned by Bob Mitchell and his wife Jean. Since 2013 it's been owned by Robert Hawkins and his wife, Rhea.
In between, from 1994 to 2013, it was owned by Mike Alwin, a jovial-yet-crusty bugger who enjoyed nothing more than giving his customers some gentle grief while also doling out gobs of fly fishing knowledge. During many of those years that Mike was the owner, a motley group of part-timers also worked there, helping out where needed, tying flies for the shop, and giving Mike gruff as often as he dished it out. Mike called them his "henchmen", a term that seemed to fit them well.
|Mike and the henchmen, circa 2013|
When Mike sold the shop, all of the henchmen left, too. It's now been five years since that happened, so I thought it would be fun to find out Where Are They Now?
First of all, Mike Alwin is enjoying retirement with his wife Deb in a posh and tony suburb of St. Paul. Now that he doesn't own a fly shop, he has more time to actually fish. He also has been tying huge numbers of flies for Lund's Fly Shop in River Falls, WI. When I asked him to provide a brief synopsis of how life has been these past five years, he sent me the following: "After Rickie died, I waited about a year and a half for Deb to tell me she was ready to get another dog. To make a long story mercifully short, we got a four year old English Springer from the English Springer Rescue Association. Her name is Gina and she is fabulous. The first year we had her she killed four squirrels in the back yard. The next year she killed two rabbits on our walks and one of our neighbors doves. That one got a little too far over the fence and a little too close to the ground. Last year she killed a squirrel, a rabbit and two song birds...all in our back yard. Last year we took her out west and she learned to swim on the Boulder River. So, we're still camping and traveling and fishing, but now we're doing it with a swimming killer." Sounds like life is pretty good, unless you happen to be a small mammal or bird within Gina's eyesight...
Next up, as far as tenure at Bob Mitchell's goes, is Gabe Schubert. Gabe worked at Bob Mitchell's on and off for what seemed like an eternity. He started there while still in high school, and now he's 94. His thick, luxurious beard helps to hide his age... No, I have no idea how old Gabe is, other than that he is younger than me. After Bob Mitchell's, Gabe continued to work in the construction/carpentry industry for a little while, but in recent years has transitioned into full-time work with a company called Dry Fly Sales, where he reps Simms, Hatch Reels, G. Loomis, Umpqua, and Scientific Angler. He also works as a guide, taking clients on musky and smallmouth expeditions, as well as a few trout trips thrown in for good measure. He lives in a secluded cabin at the confluence of the Apple and St. Croix Rivers, and is one of the guruiest of musky gurus in the Twin Cities. If you want to catch big muskies on a fly, talk to Gabe.
|Gabe the Musky Guru|
After Gabe came Ron Kuehn. Ron started working at Bob Mitchell's in the late 1990s. He is an electrician by trade, and is excited that he recently has begun to work the day shift, and has weekends off, although he misses being able to fish mid-week when there are less crowds. He still works part-time at a fly shop, only now that shop is Lund's instead of Bob Mitchell's. He claims to be perennially behind on his fly orders for Lund's, which I assume is true. He has become much more involved with his local Trout Unlimited chapter, and is super excited that his daughter, Anna, has become involved in fly fishing. He can't wait for the two of them to get out soon so she can use her new St. Croix rod she got for Christmas.
|Ron and his daughter, Anna|
There was one more henchman at Bob Mitchell's. He was the new guy because he only worked there for 12 years. That guy was me, and I won't go into too much detail, since I write about myself all the time here on the ol' blog. But I will say that I have gotten into teaching, through fly tying classes at various Community Ed departments around the area. And, like Mike and Ron, I also tie flies for Lund's Fly Shop. Plus I write, both here on the blog, and in magazines. Life is pretty good!
|Scott, the newest henchman|
Yup, things have changed in the past 5 years, but it seems as though all of us are doing pretty well. Look for the next Where Are They Now? Bob Mitchell's Edition in 2023!