Dale Stroschein has come a long way in the four decades since he rode his bike to a favorite fishing hole, but one thing has remained constant: a love of fishing.
That love ultimately is what will put the 48-year-old Door County guide and resort owner into the 2014 class at the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward.
Stroschein has been guiding fishermen on the waters of Green Bay for 28½ years, and will be going into the “Hall” as a Legendary Angler — the first from the Kewaunee/Door County Peninsula.
Contacted Friday, Stroschein said he was in the middle of a guide job when he got the call telling him about the honor. It was something his late father always dreamed about.
“What I’m really proud of is that I started from the bottom,” said Stroschein. “It just shows that if you are really passionate about something, the sky’s the limit.”
Stroschein and his wife, Karyn, own the Sand Bay Beach Resort northwest of Sturgeon Bay. Karyn handles all the emails and calls and does a lot of the behind-the-scenes things that need to be done.
“My family has always been behind me,” Stroschein said. “My wife is very integral part of my success. Without her, none of this would be possible.”
Dale said he was fishing ever since he was quite small, and recalls riding his bike down the road carrying a little green tackle box over the handlebar on one side and a fishing pole over the handlebar on the other.
“I’d literally fish all day,” Stroschein said. “I’d be casting a lot of crankbaits, mainly catching bass and once in a while a pike.”
Stroschein, who at one time fished competitively in dozens of states and provinces, said Door County is unique in that it has a diversity of species and trophy potential for most of them.
“None of these other places have everything we have,” Stroschein said. “Numbers and size. I mean, we have 20-pound pike, 6-pound bass, 12-pound walleyes, 30-pound salmon, 14-inch perch. We’re very fortunate.”
Dale guides on open water and ice more than 300 days a year, often doing two trips a day May through August and again on the ice. Even though the economy is soft, he said his business — helped in part by visitors who stopped fishing in Canada for a variety of reasons — is better than ever.
He doesn’t use live bait for bass, and unless a trophy is being saved for mounting or is hooked too deep and won’t survive, it goes back into the water.
For walleyes, most of his catch-and-keep fishing is done in lower Green Bay where there’s an abundant supply of fish. Still, he encourages selective harvest by letting many of the bigger fish go.
Stroschein was born and raised on the property where he now lives. He took over the resort business in 1998.
He usually targets walleyes and whitefish in winter and bass and walleyes in open water.
Dale began competing in the Masters Walleye Circuit in the mid-80s, and in his pro career qualified 12 times for national championships in the MWC, Professional Walleye Trail (PWT) and Cabela's NAWA, including six top ten finishes. He once held big fish records in two of the circuits with fish of 11.36 and 10.56 pounds.
In March 1995, a 13.76-pound walleye he caught through the ice of Sand Bay was recognized as the largest by hook and line through the ice. It has since been topped, but ranks as one of the best ever.
In a story on one of his sponsor’s websites, Stroschein reminisces about committing, finally, to his first speaking engagement.
“I took a call from the Green Bay Sportsman's Club to speak and turned it down. Well, my Dad overheard the conversation. He said, ‘Son, if you really want this to be your career, you better call them back.' I reconsidered, and well, the rest is history.”
Stroschein has since given hundreds of seminars at fishing clubs, sport shows and tackle and boating-related businesses. He’s also been featured in dozens of newspapers and magazines, including multiple cover photos, has been on billboards and regularly does television appearances on Midwest and national outdoor shows.
Today, his preference is teaching one-on-one in the boat, on the ice, and at fishing schools he hosts at the resort.
For more information on Stroschein, check out his website at http://wackywalleye.com
— Kevin Naze is a freelance outdoors writer. Call him at (920) 883-9792 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.