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Front 20 Outfitters bring fly-fishing to area

Sam Benshoof/FOCUS Doug and Roxanne Harthan recently opened the fly shop of Front 20 Outfitters, which is located on 138 West Main Street in Perham.

Fly-fishing enthusiasts in the area now have a new resource with the opening of the new Front 20 Outfitters fly shop in Perham.

Although Front 20 Outfitters has been in business since 2007, owners Doug and Roxanne Harthan recently opened the fly shop on May 6. Front 20 Outfitters started as a trout fishing service, and developed to include fly-fishing as well.

Doug said that he's expecting business to pick up over the summer once people learn more about what Front 20 Outfitters has to offer.

"I think we're going to see people coming to us who might normally drive to Cabella's in Brainerd to get their gear," he said.

Doug and Roxanne are excited about bringing fly-fishing to the Perham area.

"Fly-fishing for years was viewed as elitist," Doug said.

"People were probably scared of it because they thought it took a lot of talent," Ruth added.

"It does take a lot of talent, like any sport," Doug said. "But I truly believe anyone can do it. It just takes some practice."

There probably are people in the area who fly-fish, Doug said, but this is the first time that a service dedicated to fly-fishing has been available.

Doug worked at Lund Boats for 28 years and decided to start Front 20 Outfitters because of his passion for fishing.

"I enjoy teaching, and I enjoy fishing, and the guiding brings that together," he said.

Doug and Roxanne have gone fly-fishing in Montana, Arizona, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and throughout Minnesota.

They will offer a free fly-fishing instructional clinic on Wednesday, June 1 at 6:30 p.m. in Paul Miller Park in Perham. Clinics are limited to 12 people, and pre-registration can be done at the fly shop.

"We'll be teaching how to rig a rod, basic casting techniques and other things like that," Doug said. "It's really geared towards beginners."

Front 20 Outfitters offers full-day and half-day trout and fly-fishing trips. Doug said a full-day trip would probably be about eight to 10 hours of fishing, while a half-day would be about four to five hours.

Guided trips usually go to lakes like Bad Medicine Lake or Long Lake, or possibly some smaller lakes as well.

The Harthans also offer a cabin for rental during the summer. Located about 20 miles north of Perham in the country (not on a lake, they said), it sleeps about five or six people.

"But that's not really our emphasis," Roxanne said. "We're more about the fishing."

Front 20 Outfitters also has gift certificates for sale. Business hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The office is located at 138 West Main.

The shop carries a full line of fly-fishing equipment from Redington, RIO and Umpqua, in addition to an assortment of flies, streamers and fly-tying materials.

"We want to be a place where fly-fishermen stop in to talk and to exchange information," Doug said.