Willie Breaks Through


WHEN you are checking out all the big brown trout photos coming from the White and Norfork at this time of year, so very easy.

Then you get to meet guys like musky guide Chris Willen, one of the fishiest cats we know, an amazing cast, great retrieve and rod skills who has that innate, can’t be taught skill to think like a fish. The fact Willie will fish all hours, can row a drift boat (even cross country) and has the ability to entertain a boat all day means he gets more water time invites than most.

He just couldn’t stick a big brown trout _ the picture has given it away of course. Willie finally pinged a big fish just shy of the 2-foot mark to break his drought. Four years of trying, 10 days at a time, countless boat hours and goodness only knows how many 80’ casts with an 8” streamer (no I’m not lying), Willie had been through the wringer.

He’s turned fish, had drive-bys, and slashes, fish follow and even some eat. And there has been plenty of “teener” fish but the good fish kept coming elsewhere. Willie had been in the favored front seat when his friend and colleague Lucky Porter stuck a good one from the back spot in my boat, and he was in the back seat when Blane Chocklett his that 28” fish last year.

We knew it was eating at him, a bit at least, he taken to calling them “musky trout” _ joking that these were “trout just like a musky, except they don’t eat” _ and when he broke off a good fish the day before the Streamer Lovefest, the back of the boat was a little solemn for a while. Probably it wasn’t helped by two smart alecs asking about knot tying guides and musky hook sets.

And you have to understand Willie is a northwoods kinda guy who can dish out a teasing but also take it as well. But he seemed to be getting a little sensitive about brown trout.

So when Willie finally got his fish late last week with Alex, the buzz went through the crew faster than a bunch of streamer guides through a box of donuts. Everyone was stoked, finally the curse was lifted. Two more days, now let’s see if he can crack a musky sized one.




Willie has his sense of humor back photo-bombing Michigan fly designer Russ Maddin