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Fishing with my Pops aka "Mr. Walleye"

We all have our mentors from our youth growing up in the outdoors. Many of us have dads, moms, uncles, aunts, siblings, cousins, or friends who got us into the outdoors and kept us coming back for more.

They were the ones who inspired our passion for fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, or dozens of other outdoor recreational activities. My dad was mine. My first fishing memory is when I was 5 and we were shore fishing and reeling in bullheads and silver bass from one of the smaller lakes near my hometown in Lemmon, SD.

My pops have been an avid fisherman for as long as I can remember. Specifically, he's been an avid walleye fisherman for that time. When we fished, we usually went for 'eyes. When we were in the boat, we went for 'eyes. Once he had his boat, we typically didn't do much shore fishing and once winter arrived, we went for, you guessed it, more walleyes. And it was always fun to go fishing with him regardless of how well the fish were biting.

We could usually keep ourselves entertained in the boat and on the ice, well there was certainly no issue there with skating, sledding, being pulled behind his four-wheeler on a sled, or general horsing around with my younger brother. But he also instilled in us a respect for what we caught and even before it became the mantra of millions of current fishermen and women, he practiced catch-and-release almost exclusively.

We only kept a few of the good eating sizes and anything bigger always went back into the water. This passion and these lessons I still follow to this day, other than his mantra of "if it isn't a walleye, it isn't a fish." I prefer variety in my catches, for which I endure much ribbing from him, especially when I target pannies.

After a month of sending him pictures of my fish I was catching from the ice, he decided he wanted to get out on the ice and would "put up" with some trout fishing. It's not often that "Mr. Walleye" wants to fish for something else, but I took advantage of it to take my dad out on the early ice here in the Hills recently. And he didn't require any lessons on trout fishing since it's like walleye fishing other than using my plastics since I rarely use live bait except on my Arctic Warriors.

He was happy just being on the ice finally and he managed to catch several nice 'bows while I reeled in a number myself, including a nice lake trout on one of the Warrior setups. I wished I'd let my dad reel it in, but he told me to grab it. He used to do the same thing whenever he caught something good in the boat, to pass the rod to myself or my brother to reel in.

It's reasons like that why he was my fishing mentor and why I have the same passion that he has, albeit my favorite fish is pretty much whatever takes the bait. Him on the other hand...........

I hope others have been inspired in the same way I was as a kid. It's this same inspiration that I hope to pass onto my daughter as she grows. I want her to have a lifetime of outdoor experiences and a respect for what the outdoors offers us. She'll just be a multi-species catcher like dad, and I'll let grandpa show her what walleye fishing is like!

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