The Outdoors Experience Radio Outdoor Talk Show, Chicago Illinois outdoor radio and television shows with Steve Sarley. Chicago fishing and hunting radio and TV talk shows about the great outdoors on WIND Radio 560.

Outdoor Articles & Tips

Steve Sarley writes a column every two weeks for Illinois Outdoor News.

Steve Sarley writes an outdoors page every Thursday that appears in The Northwest Herald. These articles can be found online at Here is one of Steve's columns:

Every year I issue a list of guides that I can recommend. With the slow economy, a guide’s services can seem a little steep, but what better way is there to learn a body of water. Once you learn it, you can go back again and again to catch more tasty walleyes and panfish for the dinner table. In that respect, the use of a guide can be justified as truly worth the expenditure.My list of guides covers waters within a reasonable drive. I’ve added a couple this year that work locations a little farther away, but in areas that a lot of people travel to.

Spence Petros – – 815-455-7770 -This Hall of Fame angler books weekday trips on Geneva and Delavan in May and June. He always fills up because a trip with Spencer is the closest you can get to guaranteeing yourself a day on the water that you will remember forever.

Captain Bob Jenkins – - 888-427-8262 – Captain Bob runs out of Waukegan and is a double threat. He takes his big boat out for salmon and trout and also runs a nifty center-console craft that is absolutely perfect for perch. Captain Bob is the only charter on the big pond that can get you a limit of tasty golden perch while fishing in a comfy boat that is designed for what you are doing. I caught a beauty that weighed just a hair under two pounds with Bob a couple of seasons ago.

Steve Everetts – Finseeker’s Guide Service - 847-707-1827 - Steve is a licensed captain and my “go-to-guy” for Lake Delavan fishing information. He is the best on that body of water, hands down. I have written a number of times about trips with Steve when we have caught way more than our fair share of big pike and big bass.

Captain Bob Rossa – - 815-575-4665 – Captain Bob is returning to beautiful North Point Marina as his base of operations. He is a consummate professional and almost always sends his clients home with plenty of tasty fillets. Heck, even if you didn’t catch fish, Captain Bob’s stories would be worth the price of the charter alone.

Eric Haataja – – 414-546-4627 – This young fellow fishes all over the state of Wisconsin and catches fish on every lake and river he hits. I have never met anyone who was so well versed on as many bodies of water as Eric is. He is respected by the top pros and is often seen on television with John Gillespie and Babe Winkelman. 

Jim Tostrud – – This is a guide who is great with children. Part guide/part fish artist, the incredibly talented Tostrud has a good handle on what’s hot on Geneva. In my opinion, he’s the best at going after Geneva’s huge bluegills and mammoth crappies. Jim is the perfect guy to hit the water with for a dad and a kid or two.

Jim "The Crappie Professor" Kopjo - 708-601-1962 - Shabbona is Jim's favorite body of water to hit for crappies and who doesn't love catching them. He will teach you skills so that you can increase your crappie success on any body of water you fish. He is great with kids and families. A really good guy!

Carl Kaufmann – Carl Kaufmann Guide Service - 815-338-2475 – Carl perfectly defines the word “gentleman.” He is truly one of the nicest guys in the business. Kaufmann is superb at finding big bass and pike on both Lake Geneva and Lake Delavan. If one is off, the other is usually on, so Carl’s knowledge of both of them gives him a big edge. Carl is great with kids and first-timers and nobody works harder to make sure that you catch fish.

Jeff Hahn – – 815-669-6540 – I lost my best Fox Chain guide a few years back when Captain Darrell Baker passed away. I haven’t fished with Jeff Hahn yet, but my people tell me that he does a tremendous job. Don’t be put off by his youthful appearance, Jeff does this full time and has been at it for eight years. He is fully licensed and insured which is a little unusual for the Chain.

“Cat” Matt Jones – - 815-537-5506 – If it is those whiskered beasts that are what you desire, Matt Jones is your man. He chases big cats on the Rock River twelve months a year. He hunts 10-pound channel cats and 50-pound-plus flatheads with regular success. He is energetic, personable and extremely hard working.

Todd Gessner – www.toddgessneroutdoors - 618-513-0520 – Todd Gessner is one of the smartest guys I know. He is also one of the nicest. Todd guides Rend, Crab Orchard, Devil’s Kitchen, Lake of Egypt and all of the rest of Southern Illinois’ legendary lakes. If he’s not available, his protégé, Jason Johns, is almost as good as Todd. Stay at rend Lake Resort while you visit, if you want to give yourself a real treat.

Bob Santangelo – 708-261-6759 –Captain Bob works south of the Chicago Metro area, an area that doesn’t get enough publicity for good fishing action. Captain Bob does a great job on the Kankakee River and also on Heidecke Lake. He is capable on all species but is one of the few that can put you on rod-busting hybrid stripers.

Captain Ralph Steiger – - 219 –688 – 3593 – If you like smallies, then you must be aware that Lake Michigan is becoming known as one of the hottest bronzeback locations in the country. Steiger is one of the only charter captains who can specifically target these huge smallies. He launches out of Indiana, so it’s a long haul, but believe me, it is worth the cost of the gas. A five pounder is a definite possibility.

Jonn Gramm's Camp Smallmouth River Guide Service - 309-399-7055 - Jonn specializes in wading and float trips on the Vermilion River in Central Illinois. He has reasonable rates and all gear is provided. He is especially adept at teaching the finer points of river fishing for smallmouth bass either with a fly rod or spinning gear. Jonn has over 25 years of experience.

Greg “Mister Slip Bobber” Bohn – - 715-356-4633 – Walleyes, and I mean big walleyes are Greg’s specialty. He can teach you the finer points of slip bobber rigging and you won’t believe how many fish you can catch with that method. Greg works out of the legendary Northwoods area of Northern Wisconsin. For a really special trip, book Greg for a nigh trip. That’s when the big ones really hit.

Brian “Bro” Brosdahl - – 218-340-6051 – Bro is a young man who fishes professionally for walleyes, but has a soft spot for jumbo gills, perch and crappies. He has a great personality and has become an innovator in the sport in just a few short years. He is very entertaining. Bro plies his trade on the most popular lakes in Minnesota.


I don’t claim to be familiar with every guide who is out there. If you know of someone who you think deserves to be added to this list, please let me know.

































A Disturbing Response from the Hall of Fame
Articles & Tips >>

Hayward, Wisconsin is wonderful place. It is typical of Northern Wisconsin. It is an area of large, clear lakes, an area of towering pines, birches and poplars, an area filled with a panoply of wildlife, an area of big fish.

In Hayward, you’ll find the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, an institution filled with mounts, history, antiques, memorabilia and lore, housed in a building that looks like a musky that is a half-block long and four-and-a-half stories high.

On the Chippewa Flowage, one of the area most venerated waterways, you’ll find the Indian Trail Resort. The Indian Trail is a typical Northwoods resort featuring well-used wood-sided cabins filled wit well-used furnishings. The Indian Trail even has a “bunkhouse,” dormitory-style sleeping quarters, bare bones accommodations for serious fishermen on tight budgets. You’ll find the typical boat dock, sand beach and children’s play area. Yes, the Indian Trail is standard Northwoods stuff.

Inside the Indian Trail, you’ll find the Little Red Bar, a typical Wisconsin drinking establishment. You’ll find locals and visitors playing the bowling machine and pumping coins into the ten-cent jukebox while sipping Wisconsin lager or the ever-popular stingers or old fashioneds.

Behind the bar on many nights is an unassuming gentleman named John Detloff. Detloff, who owns the bar and resort and often guides fishing parties during the day is no more distinguishable than any man waiting on a Chicago street corner for his daily bus. Detloff looks like the “average Joe” and doesn’t normally raise his voice loud enough to call attention to himself. By the way, Detloff also serves as the President of the national Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

Under this veneer of calm and normalcy lies the biggest controversy in fishing discussion and debate to have arisen in many years – the war over whether Louis Spray’s world record muskie is legitimate.

Today, the streets of Hayward are walked by people who cross the street when seeing someone coming in the opposite direction for fear of starting an argument over the Spray fish. Former friends are now angry enemies as they take sides in the musky debate.

I have previously written about the World record muskie alliance and their challenge presented to the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame regarding the validity of the record fish. I have written about the Hall’s steadfast refusal to dismiss the Spray fish. I have discussed how some of the mathematicians enlisted by the Hall are now recanting their findings and claiming that the Hall misled them. I have written about how muskie historian Larry Ramsell has turned up evidence to prove that Detloff was less than honest in his efforts to disprove Art Lawton’s fish, a previous record holder. It seems that this issue will not die.

My solution was for the Hall to establish dual records; historical and modern day, allowing the Spray fish to stand as a historical or legendary record and having a modern day record awarded to a fish measured with modern day technology. I thought this was simple and that all parties could walk away with pride intact and some feeling of satisfaction. Please note that I do not claim to have invented this dual-record concept, it has been bandied about for years. I just thought it was the fairest solution and presented it to John Detloff and the Hall of Fame for a response. I wrote, in part, “I believe your only solution to saving the Hall's credibility, without having to dismiss the Spray fish is to institute historical and modern day records. Please consider this. I look forward to you gracious response.”

I received Detloff’s response via a 45-minute phone conversation that took place this week. The following selected comments well-represent John Detloff’s response to my request for dual records.

“It is the Hall of Fame’s responsibility to make sure that history is not diminished. People want to know facts. Our decision to uphold the record, amongst people who want to know facts was met with congratulatory response. They thanked us for keeping history in place to the best of our ability. History must be accurate.”

“The decision to not allow the WRMA’s challenge was done with much discussion and attention to detail. We read every part of their challenge many times, looking for proof with open minds and we couldn’t find any.”

“I was surprised to see that they came up with that bit about the fins being in different places on the photo of Spray’s fish and the mount of the fish. Then I looked at some of my mounts and the pictures. Then we looked at the Hall’s mounts and compared them o the pictures. It seems like many taxidermists move the fins around and this is not out of the ordinary, so we had to discount that theory.”

“I am proud of the board and their work. They took every question and looked at it with science and logic. We have the ability to discuss things logically. We worked hard to keep accurate records. History must be preserved. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors being used by these guys trying to confuse people and get them to think that Louis’ fish was smaller than it is. There is a lot of jealousy over Spray’s fish because if someone can’t catch a fish that big, then the fish just can’t be real. The bulk of the people are satisfied with the Hall’s decision.”

“There will be no modern day record. There is only one record fish and that is that. It is not our job to take the easy way out and do things to make people happy. It is our job to keep accurate records – period. If we established what you call a “modern day record,” how many years will it be before you ask for a “modern-modern-day record” and so on. History must be accurate. The Louis Spray fish is the world record muskie and that is where it will stand.”

Strong words from Mister Detloff, but I believe they are hollow. The WRMA evidence was very compelling. Because some mounts have had their fins mysteriously moved doesn’t account for the vast differences in distance between the fins on Spray’s mount. I respect the legend of Louis Spray and his incredibly large fish, but do not believe it any more than I believe that Paul Bunyan traveled the countryside in the companionship of a giant blue ox named Babe. I believe that John Detloff and the Hall of Fame have made a very serious strategic mistake in grasping on to the Spray fish and not doing the smart thing and establishing dual records. I am sure that there will be more to come.

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The Outdoors Experience Radio Outdoor Talk Show, Chicago Illinois outdoor radio and television shows with Steve Sarley. Chicago fishing and hunting radio and TV talk shows about the great outdoors on WIND Radio 560..