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 Plea for Muskie Sanity
Articles & Tips >>

The article I wrote regarding Louis Spray’s record musky caused me to receive more correspondence than anything I have ever written. This letter appeared in The Herald early this month regarding my Jan. 30 column:

“A fish tale gone wrong" contained the same brand of fuzzy logic, baseless assumptions and snide innuendoes that were present in the World Record Muskie Alliance report that attempted to discredit Louie Spray's world-record fish. Sarley made little effort to present both sides of the debate. It also is apparent that he is unaware of the fact that it was the accusations of another Chicago-area writer that prompted John Detloff to begin his investigations into the legitimacy of Spray's fish and other records. Sarley's call for new world-record categories is just what the powers at the World Record Muskie Alliance want: an easy opportunity to get their names in the record book. I would encourage anyone interested in this issue to visit the Web sites of the World Record Muskie Alliance at and the hall of fame Read the documentation behind both positions, and then form an opinion. Bob "Butch" Kipka”

Wow! I thought I was being fairly open-minded in presenting both sides of the story! I personally like John Detloff and get along well with him, as I do with the WRMA. As a matter of fact, the World Record Muskie Alliance isn’t very happy with me either. They feel that Spray’s muskie should be totally discounted. They aren’t happy with my asking for dual historical and modern day records. I even have an outdoor writer from a New York newspaper sending me new information and his opinion on the matter.

There is more dissension rearing its ugly head as “The three mathematicians whose investigations were at least partially reported by the Hall of Fame in the recent record ruling – Joseph Gallian, Dorian Goldfield and Doug Arnold are concerned that our work was not fully understood by the Hall, and also by the way in which the Hall chose to communicate with us. We wrote Emmett Brown (Hall Executive Director) about this, but have not yet received a reply.”

None other than renowned musky historian Larry Ramsell is also weighing in on the issue. Ramsell’s sincerity and believability are beyond question. “Subsequent to the decision by the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame to uphold their Louie Spray muskellunge World Record on January 16, 2006, after a protest by the World Record Muskie Alliance against it, I decided to look further into the matter, especially since many of the reasons the Hall gave for upholding the Spray record were identical to what they chose to ignore in 1992, when they accepted an investigation into the Lawton World Record, authored by current Hall Executive Board President John Dettloff, then independent of the Hall, and disqualified Lawton’s record. What I learned was incredibly enlightening. On February 19, 2006, I attempted to make a copy of this 41-page review available to Hall Executive Director Emmett Brown. He declined to accept it. On February 21, 2006, I made this review available to Hall Executive Board President John Dettloff, through another Hall Board member. He indicated that he was too busy with the upcoming Birkie ski race to look at it now. It was at that point I decided to make my review available to the general public.

Ramsell’s 41-page report is incredibly interesting and if anyone would like a copy, please ask for one by e-mailing me at

Ramsell finishes, “Late on February 21, 2006, I learned, unsolicited, from a confidential source during a conversation regarding another matter, that in 1992, John Dettloff had told him that he (Mr. Dettloff) had tricked the Lawton relatives in 1991, in order to obtain the Lawton photo and correspondence archives from them. While I have considerable information in my file regarding this aspect, I did not include it in my review because I did not have positive proof that Mr. Dettloff did indeed have an agenda at that time, despite the claims of same by Lawton’s relatives. I now believe it to relevant.”

I wrote to the hall of Fame expressing my opinion as to how this matter might be best resolved:

Here is my letter to the Hall of Fame: "I am giving you a link to a story I wrote for The Northwest Herald. At the end, I ask the Hall to establish historical and modern records. I would like a response. I feel that we are in the midst of an excruciatingly serious situation. As a Midwesterner, I am biased in favor of the Hall. I do not want to see the Hall's credibility questioned and I do not want the IGFA recognized as the keeper of the sacred records for fish caught in our area. I also do not want to see individual organizations like Muskies Inc. recognizing their own records. John, I feel that I have been fair and open minded regarding this situation in how I have reported it. I have no agenda either way. 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." Steve Sarley

I will report further and offer the Hall’s response when I receive it. To me, dual records are the easiest way out of this situation. We get a new record measured and recorded with today’s technology and Louis Spray and the Hall do not have to worry about any future challenges to the long-standing record.

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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..