Jeff Kolodzinski fishes for a crowd at Lake Minnetonka.

Earning posterity one bluegill at a time

Sitting among the shiny boats docked by Minnesotan bluebloods along the shores of Lake Minnetonka, everyday-man Jeff Kolodzinski will whip out his cane rod and box of maggots Friday and try to fish his way into immortality one 4-inch bluegill at a time.

The 40-year-old Minnesota man will use his low-tech approach in an attempt to crack the "Guinness World Records" book by catching and releasing more fish in a 24-hour period than anyone else has ever been driven and slightly twisted enough to try.

The man called "Kolo" has staged his fishing marathon five years in a row as a publicity stunt to raise money for Minneapolis youth programs and to show the world it doesn't take a pro's touch nor a hefty inheritance to enjoy angling.

"Fishing for a world record is enjoyable, in a warped sort of way," Kolodzinski says. "No glitter boat or tournament shirts. Just a 10-foot pole, 8 feet of line, float, split shot and hook.

"Inspire is kind of a lofty word," he says. "But I hope this shows people how easy and inexpensive it is to go out and enjoy fishing."

He's already set the bar high. He caught 1,628 fish in a 24-hour period in 2008 from the same dock behind the fancy Maynard's Restaurant on this lake outside of Minneapolis. That's averaging slightly more than one fish per minute for 24 straight hours. The Guinness judges didn't see enough evidence to validate his catch as an authentic record, so the experience is chalked up as a hefty practice round.

At exactly 10 a.m. Minnesota time Friday, Kolodzinski will be surrounded by an entourage of counters, timers, videographers, fish-loggers and gawkers as he begins his quest to catch and release as many as 1,700 fish, and do it with enough proof to satisfy the requirements of the folks at Guinness.

"There's quite a bit of detail that the Guinness Book of World Records wants to validate the record," Kolodzinski says. "The key is 'validate.'

"It's important to them," he says. "So it's important to me."

Fishing always has been important to Kolodzinski, who began fishing in Indiana with his uncle at age 6. Seven times he represented the United States in the International Shore Fishing Competition — the Olympics of bank-anglers. He most recently has worked as the vice president of marketing at Frabill, Inc., a Wisconsin-based fishing-tackle manufacturer.

"It's a media stunt, frankly," he says.

He chose Lake Minnetonka because it's loaded with fish, and Maynard's dock because it has plenty of room for media.

The fishing can't be more simple. Sitting on a box seat, he hooks a maggot under a small bobber — "You just can't beat live bait," he says — and drops it into the lake.

The bobber drops, he hoists the fish out and swings it to his left hand — protected from fin spikes by a rubber glove.

The fish is counted, unhooked and released. Then he repeats. He sips Gatorade and nibbles energy bars to keep him going, with as few bathroom breaks as possible.

"It's a grueling event, for sure," Kolodzinski says. "But it's a labor of love."

The love-fest is best during daylight hours, when he catches 90 percent of the fish and rarely moves along the dock.

Maynard's patrons — the dock-shoe crowd, as they're known in Minnesota — park their fancy boats nearby. They often stop and wonder what's up with the guy with a tray-full of maggots.

"They're always so intrigued and engaging," he says. "People open their wallets and donate right there on the spot."

That hot-spot usually turns cool in the dead of night, when he has to walk the docks in search of fish.

Mostly, he catches potato chip-sized bluegills. About a half-dozen times each year huge walleye or muskies take notice of the bait-fish commotion and grab a bluegill as he hoists it airward.

"That really gets me charged," Kolodzinski says.

But he has never received credit from Guinness, the London-based collector of recordom that publishes its annual "Guinness World Records," which used to be called the "Guinness Book of World Records" until 2000.

Not enough independent overseers, they said. Having periods of only one counter at a time. No log of the fish caught. No trained timer. They've even asked for the weight of each fish.

Kolodzinski thinks he has everything Guinness-friendly heading into Friday.

He'll have two independent counters at all times, two trained time-keepers with synced watches, someone to log the species and size of each fish caught, a full video for any recount and sworn affidavits from the counters that they're not Kolo cronies.

"We've been able to clean it out, streamline everything, and I think it's all a go," Kolodzinski says.

So now it's down to catching fish the Kolodzinski way — 1,440 minutes of bobber-dropping, fish-releasing, bathroom-eschewing action that the people at Guinness might accept after a six-month review as a bona fide world record.

"If they do, you'll probably hear all the way to Medford a shout of joy coming from Lake Minnetonka," he says.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or e-mail

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