A Fisherman’s Dream
– Coming True
Born in Grayling Michigan, my parents were immigrants from the Netherlands. My father was a fisheries biologist starting in the 1960s. Introducing Coho Salmon and later the Chinook Salmon to Lake Michigan. I was always fascinated by the work he did. I started fishing by the age of 7 and was known to use the phrase “just one more cast” from the beginning. My older brother, with me in tow, stocked a few Largemouth bass in the newly dug pond next door. Only a few years later we were catching bass like crazy. I was hooked, and had a place to do it. The property next door was purchased by new owners, which I, immediately in fear of losing “the Pond”, went and introduced myself to the new owners. And after negotiating a “deal” so that I could fish there, I did so until my adulthood. Of course, with many trips to the Great Lakes etc. added in along the way. I seemed to be the only one of 10 kids that was a fishaholic, until later, when my younger brother Justin showed his love of fishing as well. I think I asked my dad questions about every single body of water we passed by. He really got a kick out of my interest in fish.
I began to follow his path in fisheries, but school work was never my thing. I found I was a hands-on person. In 1994 I moved to Colorado, and the first morning I was there I went fly-fishing in a small river - the North Fork of the Cache La Poudre River. I was hooked. It took me a while until I caught my first trout on a fly. Then it was tying flies in which I became quite proficient. I made many a trip to Utah, Wyoming, New York, Michigan, and even Montana. I used my Colorado Atlas and Gazetteer to find my way around Colorado and fished many amazing places. My first real career was roofing, I started a business in 1999/2000 and that allowed me a lot of fishing time. I would read anything about fishing and go anywhere I could afford to travel to fish. We would make family trips to Mexico and I loved the saltwater. I have made at least 10 trips to Mexico in where most included fly-fishing, even landing a sailfish on a fly. Then it was bonefish on the fly.
I eventually just used the method that caught the most fish, sometimes fly, sometimes spin, sometimes live bait. I slowly went back to “the dark side” and would fish for warm water species via boat using spinning gear and yes, even bait. I found that if I took my son fishing, my wife was always in favor of the two of us taking road trips to new places. We began doing an annual trip to North Dakota to fish walleye, pike, and white bass and loved it. Then Canada came into play. We were fishing for walleye, pike, musky, etc and had to use a flyrod along with the spinning gear. We found a lot of success fishing for musky on the fly.
Where could I go now? Well, we bought a house in Fort Collins, Colorado on a private lake. I was too busy fixing up the place to do much fishing, and due to a terrible drought in 2012 they drained the lake I now lived on. They planned to do some work on the dam and fill in April of 2013, so I talked with the members of the lake about stocking it and they said “feel free”, so I did. I could now work and play at home and after only a couple of years we had one of the best fisheries on the front range of Colorado. I worked so hard the summer of 2014 that I needed a break from winter, so naturally as a fisherman I began my research. And FLORIDA seemed to be calling.
After some research and luck, we found Yankeetown. My wife actually found it! And, we agreed to spend a month or two there over the winter of 2014/2015. Wow, more than I ever dreamed. Let’s buy a house. We found the one we love on the Withlacoochee River. And in the winter of 2015/2016 I fished for 6 months, not straight, but close. As a child I dreamt of a job fishing. And after finding the relaxed atmosphere and “low speed lifestyle” in Yankeetown I knew we needed to make a go of this. With people in place running the business in Colorado, I am making a leap. I considered guiding and wasn’t sure if that’s what I wanted to do. However, a funny thing happened. I heard that at certain times of the year there were tarpon in the river. Of course I heard that they were there when I had to be gone (May and nearby through the beginning of October).
Well, I decided to put in the effort of catching them in the winter into spring and had success. After seeing the faces and reactions of people hooking a tarpon while fishing with me, I decided I wanted to guide. It brings me an amazing satisfaction to see, over and over, how excited a person hooking their first tarpon gets. I won’t stop at saying their first, because it’s really every tarpon. That allowed me a venue in which I got to be part of an experienced fisherman’s “greatest moment fishing ever”. Can there be a more rewarding thing as a fisherman? I guess if there is one, I will find it.