I am often asked why I chase walleyes and not other species like bass or musky. The truth is I like fishing for anything that swims but the walleye has always had a special place in my heart.
I have had a passion for fishing as long as I can remember. I grew up in Freeport, IL, a small town nestled in the northwest corner of the state. I fished as much as I possibly could in the small creeks, rivers, ponds and small lakes in the area. My partner in crime was my grade school buddy Brad Munda. We fished for anything that would bite almost every day in the summers. We caught just about everything that swims, mostly rough fish and catfish when we fished the creeks and small rivers with the occasional smallmouth bass and northern pike. When we fished farm ponds and little lakes like Lake Le-Aqua-Na we would catch quite a few bass. The most elusive fish was the walleye. When we caught one it was a big deal, it was even a bigger deal when we were trying to catch one. The challenge drew me to the walleye.
I can’t remember catching my first bluegill, northern pike or any other species for that matter. However, I can remember the first walleye I caught on Lake Chetek in Wisconsin on my trusty green beetle spin with a black stripe. I can’t remember when I caught my first fish on the Rock River or what kind it was but I can remember catching my first walleye! I was casting a white marabou jig with a round pink head. When I casted with that zebco 202 the line was coiled and look like a giant slinky. It was a wonder that 18″ walleye would hit a jig that was tied on to what appeared to be rope but boy was I glad mr. walleye did!
I still can remember every home run I hit in organized baseball and just about every keeper walleye I caught until I was 18. That tells me two things, one I did not hit a lot of home runs and two I did not catch a lot of walleyes. It also tells me that each were really special and the challenge of each motivated me to get better at both.
When I was 18 years old and someone said that I would have a 20′ Lund Boat and 225 HP Mercury Verado and I would have the opportunity to fish against the best fisherman in the country I would have said they were crazy. Now it is a reality and it is all because I had this obsession with the elusive walleye!