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Jeff Kolpack, Published April 27 2012

Kolpack: Real world goes reel for ex-Bison player Carlson

Fargo - The upper level of Scheels All Sports superstore in Fargo has more fishing gear than once thought imaginable. Take the escalator up, maneuver two right turns and then a left and you’ll find the real-world start to Eric Carlson’s life.

Not that being a North Dakota State basketball player is fake. The 6-foot-6 Carlson did that for five years, finishing his career this year with 917 points, which is 33rd best in school history. His 258 free throws made were 16th most.

He also moonlighted, sort of, with a company he and his younger brother, University of Wisconsin-River Falls freshman Kevin Carlson, started called Beast Baits Lure Company.

The finished product, handmade fishing lures, can be purchased for $6.99 each at Scheels. The first store order for the brothers was 108, but getting to that point wasn’t so easy.

Eric Carlson got his degree in business administration in 2010 and has just three classes to go for his master’s degree in business administration. He said he learned just as much putting together Beast Baits than he did in the classroom. There was legal paperwork. There was contact with the IRS that included taxes that support the fish industry.

“When you get into it and put all the parts together, it turns into quite an adventure,” Carlson said.

Carlson said the investment by he and his brother was kept to a doable level. The parts to the lure are bought from different places and assembled by the brothers in different stages.

They pour their own lead for the weight. They have enough for about 100, and Eric figures the 108 at Scheels took about a day to put together if the hours were counted.

“This is exciting for us,” he said. “They gave us a chance. I just went in there and asked how you go about it. They showed me, so that’s what I did. With Scheels, you didn’t have to go through the corporate route like some others.”

Former Bison player Tom Wilberscheid designed the graphics. Wilberscheid runs the Fargo Basketball Academy, where Carlson worked, and did it as a favor to his former employee.

“We’re just doing this for fun, but it has potential,” Carlson said.

The 23-year-old Carlson has already been hired by the investment firm of Waddell and Reed in Bloomington, Minn., as a financial advisor.

As an NDSU player, Carlson was on a Summit League championship team that gave Kansas a run in the first round of the NCAA tournament. He also weathered the downs like a broken jaw early this past season. At that point, you could probably forgive him if he would have rather been fishing.

“It’s one thing I didn’t get to do much here,” Carlson said. “It’s the thing we love to do. We grew up doing it.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

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