Fishing 04

Paul A. Nelson

August 28, 1957 ~ October 19, 2020 (age 63)


On October 19th, Paul passed away at home due to complications related to cancer.

Paul was born in Rush City, MN on August 29, 1957. Paul graduated from Rush City High School in 1975, and then completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota, Morris where he double majored in anthropology and theater.

Paul and his wife, Sandy, then moved to Bemidji, MN where Paul started Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. Paul worked as a fishing guide for 38 years and was a regular contributor to The Bemidji Pioneer’s Outdoor section, PBTV’s fishing tip of the week, KBUN’s Fishin’ Paul Bunyan Country, and many other fishing related publications and broadcasts.

Paul was best known for his clever wit, his empathy, and extensive knowledge of subjects ranging from anthropology and gardening, to hunting and fishing, and the histories of every Minnesota sports team. As a guide and outdoor writer, Paul was a strong advocate for ‘catch-and-release’ and other responsible fishing practices that would help keep the sport alive for generations to come. Paul won many fishing tournaments over the years, and even held the state record for catch-and-release Muskie length. Paul was also a diehard Minnesota sports fan whether it was the state high school hockey and football tournaments, Gopher athletics, or Minnesota’s many men’s and women’s professional teams.

Paul was a devoted and nurturing husband to his late wife Sandy, as well as dedicated father and grandfather. Paul’s guiding season allowed him to stay home in the winters to help raise his daughters. His daughters fondly remember the many days they spent in the boat or on the ice with their dad. His daughters are also grateful for the hundreds of hours of home videos Paul recorded; the late nights he spent proofreading their school papers; and the loud cheering (and occasional ref hassling) at their sporting events.  They will miss the support and guidance their dad provided as well as his pep talks advising them when they needed to “toughen up buttercup.”

In addition to spending time with his family, Paul enjoyed spending time with the many friends he made over the years. His close friends will miss their daily conversations with Paul, who always made himself available to chat.

Paul is proceeded in death by his wife of 37 years Sandy, his brother David of Bemidji, and his parents Ellen and Luther. Paul is survived by: daughters Shivan (Travis) and Erica; granddaughter Kyleigh; his sisters Janet (Gordon) and Barb (Jose); brother John; his dog Eddie; as well as a large extended family and friends he considered to be family.

A memorial will be planned for next summer as part of a Youth Fishing Tournament to be hosted in Paul’s memory. Additional details for the events will be made available closer to the event date.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund (Paul A. Nelson Memorial) has been set up at First National Bank Bemidji; PO Box 670, Bemidji, MN 56619. Proceeds will go towards improvements and upkeep of the fish cleaning building at the Lake Bemidji State Park.


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