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via Host and hold live-leaderboard-style fishing tournaments with the GoFree Hooked app — GoFree-North America


Since the middle of October, I’ve been working as an outdoor reporter for a local paper.  I thought it would be a good time when I applied.  I don’t think I could have ever really known how much fun it truly is. In two short months I’ve met so many awesome people who love the outdoors and are passionate about their place in the world. I’ve learned so much from people who specialize in different areas of hunting and fishing. It truly has been an awesome adventure so far.

We’ve all heard the saying, “do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. When I worked in the restaurant business, I was passionate about what I was doing and about leading and mentoring my staff to be the best they could possibly be. I thought I was doing what I loved.  And, truly, that was not a bad way to spend 20+ years. But then I started freelance writing. I did that for a year and then saw the ad for an outdoor writer for the local paper. That changed a lot of things.

I go to work every day wondering what I might learn or who I might meet. Of course, the world does has it’s share of putzes, dolts and gomers… but if you look around, you’ll find a great deal of people who are doing something they love, and they are doing the “right thing” to try to help the success of something that is important to them.

I got to follow along as Walleyes for Tomorrow stocked walleyes in a few lakes in the area. What a cool experience! I have never seem fish get stocked into a lake before. The DNR was there and took some weights and measurements of some of the fish. I got to see an albino doe and her albino fawn bedding down in the woods just off the road to one of the lakes.  Talk about a cool day!

I have also gotten to meet some hunters, each with their own great personality. I’ve interviewed a few youth hunters, who were as different as their shooting circumstances. And I was lucky enough to be invited to a place called Little Lake Memories, LLC. At this deer farm, truly anyone, with any disability, can not only hunt, but an have a good chance of bringing home a really nice buck. The farm caters to disabled kids and disabled veterans… no matter the disability, these people will find a way for you to have a successful hunt. It was really an amazing day when I got to see how the farm works and the dedication of the owners in ensuring that their clients, all physically challenged individuals, could get out and learn how it feels to be able to put food on their family’s table. It gives me chills just to think about the work they do there.

I love the outdoors and I think some of the best and most basic lessons of life can be learned there. For that reason I set my sights on being an outdoor writer. This position at my local paper, I believe, is a great stopping point in that journey. Do I think I will be there for the rest of my writing career?  I can’t answer that. I would think that I may move on at some point, but I don’t plan to do that any time soon. My plan, for right now, it to continue to enjoy all of the experiences that this position affords me.  With as little time as I have been lucky enough to have this position so far, I’ve already experienced so much.  I am looking forward to every day, every week and every year that I am allowed to do what I do.  And I hope everyone reading this finds something they enjoy just as much, and can find a way to make a living at that thing.  I will tell you to not give up or change your focus, no matter where life leads you. If you keep that drive and that fire in your heart, you will eventually find yourself exactly where you have always wanted to be.  You will find yourself a home, as I have found one for myself.

This is a bit of an odd post for me, but it is something that’s been on my mind of late.  It’s so interesting to me the difference between business owners in this small area.  I know there are unscrupulous people in all walks of life, but what just happened with our two boats really shows the value of working with people who have been around a while.

Let me back up a bit.  Last fall, I was working at a hotel and a guy put in a bid to recover some of the booths in our restaurant.  He did a great job, was there on time, and finished when he said he would.  So, when it came time to get carpeting in the “big boat” (The 19 foot Triton), we brought it over to his shop.  He gave us a good price and dropped it off.  That was in November.  We told him not to rush with it – we’re not going to need it until spring.  We even stopped in near Christmas and talked to him about mounting a recessed foot pedal for the trolling motor.  We went on vacation for Christmas, and that was the last we saw of him… or the boat.  We called him, we sent text messages, and I finally sent him a letter stating that we would use whatever means necessary to get the boat back.

Today, out of the blue, one of our sponsors called us.  Her phone number for her business is on our boat.  Apparently the guy that is facilitating the sale of the building saw her number and thought it would be a good way to get in touch with us.  This guy has had a warrant out for his arrest for a couple months, and no one has seen or heard from him since.  Luckily, we live in a very small town where the guy could get in touch with us and we could easily just set up a time to go pick up the boat.  I shudder to think how long this might have gone on if we were in a city of any size.  Yikes!  It could have been a huge mess.

Now, there’s the work that needed to be done on the “Little Boat” (my ’85 16 ft Tuffy).  Last year I ran it with a 50-hp ’68 Mercury.  We decided it might be nice, if we could find a newer motor, for me to have tilt and trim, and not have to mix oil in the gas… and not have to deal with points and all of that good-old stuff that can just cause problems on the water.  At any rate, we went to this little, unassuming shop in the next town.  It’s a Mercury shop – sales and repairs.  It’s been there forever.

Last year we needed a lower unit on the Triton’s Merc and the owner had everything fixed up and ready to go by our first tournament… without a lot of time.  So, we stopped in there three days ago.  He had an awesome price on a Mariner that had just been completely gone through and rebuilt.  We decided it was a good idea and he took my boat into his shop the next day.  He called this afternoon to say it was all done and ready to go.  Wow!  He not only put a new motor on the boat, but installed all new controls and everything…. in one day (less, really).  This guy does awesome work, he charges very fair prices, and you can count on what he says.  He said he’d give me a 90-day warranty, too – not from today, but from the first time I put the boat on the water this spring.  That’s very awesome.  What a completely different experience.  This guy has a customer (2 customers, really) for life.  As long as we live here, both of our boats will go to him any time they need anything that we cannot do ourselves.  Guaranteed.

So often people hear horror stories about how others are treated by businesses doing services or selling products.  I thought it would be appropriate to talk a bit about a business that, truly, does everything right.  Meyer’s Marine in Tomahawk, Wisconsin…. if you are nearby or happen to be in the area…. you need to stop there.  Don’t even bother with some big boat dealer with a huge showroom.  Don’t even attempt to pay those prices.  Check out the small shops like Meyer’s Marine.  Guys like Len will treat you right – every time.

Good luck this season and, for those readers up north, I hope we all get some open water soon!

Maybe it’s just me, but this winter seems excruciatingly long.  Usually February lasts for about six months, and I’m ready for that, but this year it seems like it’s been going on a lot longer than that.  Maybe it’s because I will be running my own boat in our club tournaments this year, or maybe it’s because I’m excited to get out and use all of my new Denali Rods, Super K Jigs, RockyBrook Sinkers and Secret Weapon Baits.  I don’t know what the deal is, but I’m starting to get a bit stir crazy.

Last weekend we spent three days at the Central Wisconsin Sport Show, and that was a great time.  We got to hang out with some of our sponsors and just talk fishing in general.  You would think that would placate a person for a while, but honestly I think it made it worse!  Now I have all of this new tackle and equipment, and I’m itching to get out there and use it.

This year is going to be very exciting for me, and definitely a step up the ladder for the past few years.  I will be fishing with the Hodag Bassmasters as well as the Park City Bass Anglers Clubs.  I will be running my own boat in those tournaments, so that will be different.  It will be up to me to find the fish and make the decisions.  I’m excited about that and a bit nervous, too.  I always think – “What if I get out on the water and I forget everything I know?  What if I don’t ever find any fish?”  Of course, I’m not looking for that to happen, but there’s always that “what if?” in the back of my mind.  I suppose it could be that way for any angler who will be running their own boat for the first time.

I will also be fishing the entire Wisconsin River Series this year.  Last year we fished all of the tournaments except Stevens Point Flowage, but this year we are fishing that one, too.  Now that we have sponsors to consider, we need to make a concerted effort to represent them well and run for team of the year in the series.  So we will be doing that.  I have only fished Stevens Point twice, and I’m not a huge fan of it from those two experiences, but we will see what happens.

This year we will also be fishing the U.M.B.C.S. Wisconsin Lakes Division.  Well, we are for sure fishing two of their tournaments and we’ll have to see if the rest will fit into our tournament schedule, which is already filing up pretty fast this year.  This will be a totally new series for me, but on lakes that Rod has fished before when this circuit was owned and operated by someone else.

Overall, I’m really looking forward to the 2015 season, but I do feel a bit of pressure to do well – a bit more than in past years.  People know what I am capable of when I’m fishing with someone else, so I feel as though they are interested to see what I can do on my own.  I am interested to see as well.  It will definitely be a different experience, and I hope I can rise to the occasion and do well in those tournaments.  I think that will also help me become a better partner in the team tournaments.  It’s all about who makes the best decisions and dials them in the quickest.

Of course, like most people who only fish open water (or “soft water”, as we call it), winter can get longer than we’d like.  So, I started organizing my tackle.  If you’ve ever done this, you know what I’m going through.

It’s amazing how messed up it can all get over the course of what seemed to be one very short summer.  It also amazes me that I have at least one lure color or lure type that I completely forgot about somewhere along the way.  I’ve tried to organize my gear every year, and I think I’ve given up before it’s done just about every year.  So, Not This Year! I exclaimed as I went off to get started!

In doing that, I usually find three basic categories.  First, there is the old standby category.  This is the stuff you have tied on almost every tournament or every morning you go out fun fishing.  You know them better than you know your own family.  You know how they act in the water, what colors work best for which lakes, and when you can count on them when everything else fails.

Then you have the “what the heck was I thinking?” category.  Come on, admit it.  You have a bunch of stuff that you bought at one time or another that you thought you’d try for a specific lake at a specific time of year…. and there it sits.  It might still even be in the package.  When you see the stamped price tag and realize you can barely read the 79 cent price tag anymore, you realize you haven’t even fished that lake in fifteen years.  Or you find a color that Ray Charles wouldn’t have even thrown and you’re sure that your buddy must have left it in your boat at some point.  At least that’s what you tell yourself, even though you vaguely remember that day at Gander Mountain when you thought it might….

The other category that I tend to find is the, “Holy — !  I forgot I had this!” category.  For me, this is usually a crankbait of some sort, or a soft plastic that I planned to use for a new technique I wanted to perfect.  Of course, those things all go front and center for next year so that I remember to use them, because they are just going to be the biggest, best, bass catching machines in the history of life!  Yeah, four or five year down the road, some of those are going to wind up in the second category.  I know this, but for now they are still really exciting and I can’t wait for the ice to thaw so I can get out there and really clean up with these tournament-winners!  Or I might find them in the bottom of the compartment on the boat again at the end of next year.

The thing about tackle organization is I am always amazed at the amount of stuff I have accumulated.  It never really seems like that much when you are buying it, does it?  I mean, even if you spend a few hundred bucks at the tackle store, that still isn’t much compared to… well, compared to what some other people spend on other stuff, right?

This year I got some storage racks for the 3700-size tackle boxes, and I have most everything I use now neatly in boxes on the wall.  The thing I that amazed me this year, the surprise for 2015:  Where the heck did I get 8 boxes of jigs?  I really throw three or maybe four colors, so how did I accumulate enough jigs to almost fill 8 boxes?  Granted, my swim jig box and y finesse jig box are not completely full, and my football head jig box is a little over half full.  But what about the other 5 boxes?  All flipping jigs or flip n swims.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love throwing a jig.  If I could only use one technique or bait for the entire year, it would be a jig.  But I think I’m a bit overloaded on them.  Did I just say that?  No way!  Not me!

You can never have enough jigs, right?  I saw some the other day that I thought would be perfect for this lake I fish….  do you see my problem?  Of course you do.  If you’re reading this, you probably have the same problem, and that puts me in good company.  And don’t even get me started about bladed jigs…. that’s a topic for another day.

Tight Lines, All!

In Wisconsin, We all wait for spring every year.  This year, though, it seems like we’ve been waiting longer and have endured more winter than is customary.   But, never fear, Spring truly is on the way.  Now is the time to think about what there will be to do outside in a few short weeks.  We all know that we need to get outside more, get more exercise, and, in general, find time to de-stress and relax.  What better place to relax than outside?

Why not pick up a new hobby or activity this year?  The days are getting longer, and the sun is feeling warmer… when we see it.  It has to beg the question: what will we do with our summer this year?  I think the length and depth of winter this year has more people thinking that very question than in many years past.  The next question might be – if they say this will be the best/easiest winter for the next five, how will I get through the coming winters?

Truly, the answer is to get outside and find something you love to do.  That is the topic of this blog, no matter the season.  We need to Get Outside, Wisconsin!  We have a truly beautiful landscape that is ours to enjoy.


Please feel free to come back any time you need to find a new way to Get Outside.  My plan is to get you outside at least one more time per year than in the past, and for you to learn one more way to enjoy living in Wisconsin.

Sport Show

It was great to finally get to talk fishing yesterday!  We stopped in at the Sport Show in Wausau on Saturday.  We had a good time talking with other fishermen and checking out some new products.  I picked up some jigs from Gregg at Super K Jigs as well as some soft plastics from a new, local business, Secret Weapon Baits, owned by Mike Hofmann.  After that I picked up more jigs in a different style from Brian at Bass Nut jigs. 


Overall it was a great time at the show, not to mention it wasn’t 20 below zero OR snowing!  That has to be a first in months.  Sure seems like this winter has been a long one.


I also got some good ideas for the Tuffy for next summer.  I’ve got a bunch of work to do on it, but looking at the layouts of the new boats and such gave me some good ideas for the storage areas.


But for now I’ll just busy myself with organizing my tackle and making out a few more orders of things I know I’ll need before May.  It’s a beautiful, sunny day and as long as I don’t look outside and see all the snow – I can imagine that it’s 70 degrees and the water is soft!