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.

































The Big Pond With Captain Bob
Articles & Tips >>

When I took over this column from Ken Poor last year, we tried to make a smooth transition. Ken was very free in handing over all of the information, contacts and sources he used in compiling his weekly column. One of his contacts was Captain Bob Rossa who commands his boat, The Migrator, on the tricky waters of Lake Michigan. Without a hitch, Rossa religiously kept sending in his Lake Michigan report every week.

From his information I immediately knew that Rossa was qualified to contribute his expertise to the column. Captain Bob has called me on a fairly constant basis for the past year, inviting me to take a ride on the Migrator and challenge the big lake’s healthy population of salmon and trout. I have always had an excuse for not being able to go.

The phone rang. It was captain Bob. “The kings are in and I’m taking a friend of yours out for some action. You have no excuse. Meet us at North Point on Tuesday.” He was right. I had no excuse.

Did I mention that Rossa told me that the kings were on an early bite. He wanted me at the marina in time to shove off at 4:00 a.m. and would leave without me if I was tardy. I hoped that the king action would be worth being roused from the depths of sleep at two in the morning!

I won’t keep you in suspense and make you wait until the end of the story to get the results. Let’s “cut to the chase,” as they say. (Who is “they” and what the heck does “cut to the chase” mean anyway?)

Captain Bob Rossa provided me with the best day of fishing on lake Michigan that I ever experienced. I owe Mr. Ken poor a nice thank-you card for introducing the Captain to me. We really smacked the kings. We were only two fish short of a limit and only fell short because we all felt that we had plenty in the cooler as it was and wanted to head in. I cannot be more emphatic in my praise of Captain Bob Rossa and his ability to put fish in the cooler.

Four in the morning! What an ungodly time of the day it is! You cannot even enjoy the beauty of Winthrop Harbor’s North Point Marina in the dark. North Point, by the way, is commonly referred to as the best marina on the entire Great Lakes system. I arrived at slip 10 and found Captain Bob all revved up and raring to go. My fishing companions would be Mauro Tomasetti, who runs the annual Liv’s Calling for a Cure cystic fibrosis charity goose hunting event and two of his regular outdoor partners. It’s always nice to meet new fishing partners and Louie Cairo and Bob Lis proved to be good fishermen and excellent companions.

Lis was full of good stories and the 75-year-old Cairo had all of the vigor and enthusiasm of a teenager. Louie would grab the net whenever a king hit our lines and masterfully brought the beast to the boat’s deck. I think that Louie liked playing the role of first mate as much as he did catching fish.

We never had to travel more than three miles from port to find fish, and find fish we certainly did. In the early morning darkness, glow-in-the-dark spoons are the only choice. Rossa charged the spoons with a flash from a camera and quickly began setting lines. We started in 65-feet of water. As soon as Captain Bob had the third line in the water, the first rod went off. Lis grabbed the rod and almost immediately, rod number two started bouncing. In a matter of moments, Bob and Louie had two nice kings in the boat.

The action stayed steady. Incredibly, it seemed like every time a king struck a bait, another king would hit another of the rods. We were getting doubles and, of course, like all greedy fishermen, were now anticipating triples.

We had no tripleheaders but did have nine hefty kings in the box in less that 45-minutes time.

As daylight broke and the sun began to make its way up the eastern skies, the glow spoons came off and the colored flies and spoons found their way onto the end of Captain Bob’s lines.

One of the lines went off and Bob Lis went for the rod. Zzzzzzzzzzz! The drag on the reel was losing the battle to a king that seemed quite a bit more aggressive than the fish in our cooler. Lis battled back-and-forth. Every few cranks of the reel was followed by the sound of the king stripping more line. The battle was on and we weren’t certain about the winner. The king proved to be a worthy competitor, it no match for Lis’ tenacity. When the bruiser was finally landed, after stressing the net to the point of pain, it was weighed in the high teens. A beautiful fish it was!

In addition to being an excellent fisherman, Captain Bob Rossa proved to be an excellent host. He has a warm and friendly demeanor. His stories are interesting and his jokes aren’t stale. He fishes Lake Michigan from April to October. He has spent 35 years of his life on the big lake and certainly knows it well.

Rossa’s previous careers include owning a chain of pizzerias in Buffalo Grove, McHenry and Wonder Lake. He also worked as a touring golf pro for eight years, but gave it up when he met his wife. Bob’s wife is known as “Admiral Laurie,” and she was considerate enough to send Bob off for the day with a snack for the hungry party. Laurie made a smoked salmon spread featuring all fresh spices and ingredients that was incredible. Hands flew into the bags containing crackers and pumpernickel bread as the container of spread quickly emptied.

In addition to fishing, Rossa also guides for goose and duck hunting trips in the fall. He’s been doing it since “back in the days when shooting a goose in McHenry County was big news,” he says. He enjoys when the seasons overlap and he can take a party out for geese in the morning and salmon in the afternoon, a little “blast & cast” expedition, as it is called.

Fishing though, was what were doing today. No! It wasn’t fishing, it was catching! Rossa worked hard, stringing lines, setting downriggers and changing lures. He says, “Fishing is only 40% of the job of being a Captain. You spend an awful lot of time cleaning the boat, maintaining your gear and other chores. You spend an awful lot of time being a mechanic when you are a charter captain.” Bob must be a good mechanic because the 33-foot Migrator and its twin 351 Ford engines ran flawlessly.

By 7:30, we had eighteen fish in the box, including a chunky, football-shaped brown trout. We all agreed that it had been enough and we headed in. Thank goodness that Rossa is quick with his electric fillet knife. He efficiently carved up our bounty into fillets and steaks in short order.

It had been an excellent day on the water. Leaving North Point, Mauro, Louie, Bob and I agreed that it was one of the best days we had ever spent on the big lake. I guarantee that when the call comes in from Captain Bob Rossa for the upcoming steelhead and giant lake trout runs, I will be hard pressed to come up with an excuse for not being able to go.

(Captain Bob Rossa of Migrator Charters can be reached at either 815-338-8093 or at 815-575-4665. His website is )

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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..