Musky Fishing in Wisconsin with Chris Willen: Rediscover Your Region #9

Sometimes there’s a man, I won’t say a hero – ’cause what’s a hero. But sometimes there’s a man – and I’m talking about Willy here. Sometimes there’s a man – well – he’s the man of his time and place. He fits right in there. Chris Willen – in Bruce, WI.

Comment with the movie over which we super imposed this “Willyism” for a chance at some Brookdog swag.

Movie quotes aside, that particular quote fits Chris Willen perfectly. Not only would he know what movie this was from, he’d be able to finish the entire scene. He’s a wizard of pop culture, extremely entertaining, highly knowledgeable, and genuinely an awesome guy to spend 12 hours with, in the rain, casting your ass off. He’s also a blast to hang with off the water.

I met Chris something like 8 years ago – when he first started guiding in WI. His passion for musky fishing impressed me immensely. Some might think he’s insane: he gave up a career, the amenities of living in a populated area (like plumbing, the internet, etc.), frequent contact with his family, a “social life,” and much more after he experienced what it was like to catch musky on the fly.

I love those fish but not like him. He’s dedicated his life to targeting them in one of the best places to do it. The little slice of musky heaven he inhabits is removed from everything that encumbers the modern day urban/suburban dweller. Internet and cell service is spotty. Shopping – barely existent. However, there is a small town charm around him that’s genuine – just like him.

It takes a special breed of individual to dedicate your time to fishing for muskies. Those fish suck – and are awesome. You’ll hear him say it – you have to be down to grind. Delayed gratification has to be your thing. You have to be the type of angler that’s reached the point where you only care about one thing – catching a musky.

That’s the kind of mindset it takes to fish for them. Now consider what it takes to guide for them – daily. Think about it – sometimes you can go days without seeing a musky. What characteristics should a guide have to handle this kind of pressure? Well, that guide needs a sense of humor, has to be a great story teller, should be attractive, must be knowledgeable, and has to inspire hope.

Does Chris Willen possess all these traits? I won’t comment on how attractive he is but it’s a resounding “hell yes” to all the others. It’s for that reason that even though we didn’t catch any muskies on this trip – I’ll be back next fall.

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