As a staff writer for UltimateBass.com, I want to welcome you to the first “new” installment of the Member Spotlight. Once a month, I am going to have a member of the site answer (voluntarily) answer questions about their lives. I hope it gives each reader an opportunity to learn a little something about other members of the site. This month, I feel lucky to have Steve Huber (OutdoorFrontiers) take the hot seat and answer some questions for us. Thanks for taking the time to take part in this endeavour, Steve! To all the readers, I hope you enjoy this series.
1. Tell us a little about you personally? Hey, sure thing! I’m more than willing to bore the heck out of you. I doubt if anyone is going to read this, but what the heck? Grab a cup of coffee, put your feet up and be prepared to read for a while. I have a tendency to be long winded. I guess it’s a sign of advancing age…..
a. hometown I live in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, in the northeastern corner of the state. It’s a town of roughly 7,800 people, but more important is the fact that there are almost 1,000 lakes in the county!
b. family I’m married to a wonderful woman, Janet. She puts up with all my foolishness and supports my dreams. She understands my love of the outdoors and is wonderfully sarcastic, a perfect match for me. We have five kids, four girls and a boy. Their ages range from 28 down to the baby of 20. I’m really proud of my kids, four are out on their own, leading their own lives. Three of them have significant others and I’m the proud grandpa of two wonderful little girls. I’m excited that I get a grandson sometime around the end of December.
c. career For the past sixteen years, I’ve been a professional firefighter/emt/haz-mat technician for the City of Rhinelander and Oneida County. Prior to that, I’ve held various positions, managing electronics and computer stores, was a layout draftsman for two Fortune 500 companies and even did a stint as an insurance salesman. I didn’t last too long doing that!
d. pets Right now, we’re down to one cat, but I’ve always had dogs and cats around my entire life. Recently my buddy of 14 years, Chester, a chocolate lab passed to that great hunting ground in the sky. I think the squirrels are just fast enough to get away, but plentiful, and his food dish is always full….
2. Do you have any other hobbies other than fishing? I don’t know if you’d call them hobbies or not, but they certainly do occupy my time. When I’m not on duty at the firehouse, I run a fishing guide service, build custom rods, write outdoor articles for an online magazine that I own and operate, and hunt big game with bow, rifle, muzzleloader and pistols. Oh yeah, and if that isn’t enough, I am the producer/host of a television show, “Steve Huber’s OutdoorFrontiersTV!” I also like to read, laugh a lot and take long moon-lit walks on the beach…..Sorry, got carried away there…..
3. Being from Wisconsin, do you fish for any other species other than bass? Oh yeah, as long as it stretches my string, I love to fish for it. That’s the great thing about living in this area; we’re so close to good fishing. I fish for muskies, northern pike, walleye, crappie, perch, as well as both largemouth and smallmouth bass. And, because I’m only a couple hours from two Great Lakes, Superior and Michigan, I’m not far from world-class trout and salmon fishing. Believe it or not, I enjoy catching big carp too! But bass, especially smallmouth hold a special place in my heart.
4. Name the one person who you have never fished with, that you would love to fish a
day with? Why? I’m sure that there are a lot of readers here that have never heard of him, but I was fortunate to meet the gentleman once and I grew up reading his work in Sports Afield, Homer Circle. “Uncle Homer” has “been there, done that” on a grand scale. The stories he told me in just the short time we had together had me alternately laughing, sighing in amazement and utterly fascinated. I remember reading his articles as a young man, admiring his pale blue jumpsuit and wishing I had one like it! I so wished to live his life, traveling to far off and exotic places, that I think he had a big influence on who I am today.
But the person that I would most love to fish with, one more day is my dad. He passed away several years ago and while we always planned on getting together for “one more trip”, somehow it never came to pass.
I miss the conversations that we used to have in the boat, the good-natured arguing and banter. He used to say “Who taught you to fish in the first place” when I was catching more, and I’d retort “Who’s getting paid to go fishing now?” And we’d laugh as Dad said, “Well, I’m not paying you today, am I?”
That’s who I’d really love to fish with one more day……
5. What is your favorite technique for catching bass? What about your least favorite? My favorite technique for bassin’ is spinnerbaits. I’m the kind of guy that loves to keep on the trolling motor, moving fast and banging active fish. I don’t think there’s anything more fun and bulging a spinnerbait just under the surface and having an aggressive bass just hammer that lure! But, I also realize that the bass can’t be active and aggressive all the time. So that’s why I forced myself to get comfortable with wacky-rigging Senko style lures. It’s just about the opposite of spinnerbaiting, slow, methodical and BORING! Well, it’s boring until you see the line twitch, feel the weight of the fish on the line and you put the spurs to her!
6. What do you feel is the biggest mistake anglers make when fishing for bass? Hmmm, there are a lot of things that I see as a guide. Probably the biggest No-No that I see is most anglers just don’t pay attention to the fish and try to make the fish work with what the angler wants to throw. Fish will tell you what they want, but you have to pay listen to what they’re saying.
Let’s put it this way, say you’re tossing spinnerbaits and you have fish “swing and miss” the lure a couple of times. Sure, maybe their just near-sighted, but more likely what you’re throwing isn’t what they REALLY want. There’s something about your lure that makes them interested, but not enough to commit to a full strike. So, instead of changing colors, blade type, size, retrieve rate, most guys will continue to throw “what worked last week when I was here,” complaining that the fish aren’t active. Or, if they are getting bites, they’re not paying close attention to what they’re doing to trigger the strike and where the fish are.
I was fishing one day, working the edge of a lily pad bed with a spinnerbait. I probably fished 50 yards without a strike, when suddenly BANG, fish on! I continued down the pad bed, tossing and tossing without results until once again, I was bit. This time, I looked around to see what was different. The fish was caught right at the transition between lily pads and arrowhead plants. Thinking back, that occurred with the first fish too. So, I continued down the bed, still throwing the spinnerbait, but this time, as I approached more arrowhead, I was ready. Sure enough, fish on! So, for the rest of the day, I simply went to each spot that had lily pads and arrowhead, and caught fish at each transition location.
That’s what I mean about paying attention.
7. When did you start fishing and why? I started fishing probably when I was five or so, I do know I was quite young. It was for the typical bluegill and perch, believe it or not, with a real bamboo cane pole and Dacron line! I graduated to a solid fiberglass rod and a Pflueger Supreme “knuckle-buster” reel when I was about 10. I wonder how many thousand backlashes I’ve picked out over the years.
I became “serious” about fishing when I was in my late 20’s, really studying. I pored over copies of Fishing Facts magazine, early In-Fisherman and any other magazine/book I could get my hands on. I found it fascinating, learning how different gamefish relate to different habitats, all the different lure selections, why and how to use what, when. I started getting into the “how’s and why’s” and finding satisfaction in putting all the pieces of the puzzle together.
8. Can you tell us about your favorite local body of water and why it is your favorite? My favorite local body of water is probably Lake Mohawksin, nearby in the town of Tomahawk. It’s a dammed up section of the Wisconsin River and a lot of fun to fish. It has enough water to roam on (1,800 acres) and varied structure/cover. It has deep water, shallow water, weed beds, stump fields, gravel/rock points, mid-lake humps, a little something for everyone. It also is home to some tremendous smallmouth bass fishing and has a good population of muskies, northern pike and walleye. It’s interesting, in the spring and fall especially, I’ve caught all four species on the same lure on the same day! It’s a blast when you’re expecting a two – four pound smallmouth and a thirty pound muskie hammers your lure!
8. Have you traveled across the country to bass fish, and if so, where have you gone? I have been lucky in that aspect, I have been able to travel quite a bit for bass fishing and hunting. I’ve fished bass on small lakes in Michigan, on Lake Erie in Ohio, Center Hill and Dale Hollow in Tennessee, Lake Barkley in Kentucky, Lake Okeechobee, Stick Marsh, Kissimmee River, the Miami Canals and the Everglades in Florida, Lake Lanier and Eufaula in Georgia, Lake of the Woods in Ontario, Bastrop and Austin in Texas.
I’ve also fished for lake trout in Ontario, stream trout in Colorado, pike/walleye in South Dakota and caught monster brook trout in Quebec. I’ve also been fortunate to play with jack cravalle, sea trout, ladyfish and blue fish in Jenson Beach, Florida.
In addition to the traveling for fishing, I’ve hunted elk in Colorado and Wyoming, black bear in Ontario and Manitoba, Canada, wild hogs in Georgia, turkey in Illinois, caribou in far northeastern Quebec and quite possibly the most exciting trip I’ve ever been on, a 16 day safari in South Africa!
10. What bodies of water have you not fished that you would like to fish? Oh man, where do I start? I want to fish Lake Fork in Texas, Toho in Florida and Champlain in New York. But, I also would love to fish the Florida Keys for tarpon, redfish, bonefish and permit, I want to fish Belize for tarpon and roosterfish, I want to fish the Amazon for peacock bass and in Uruguay for payara. I think it would be a blast to fish for giant lake trout near the Arctic Circle and redfish off the coast of Louisiana.
11. Tell us a little about your fishing equipment (boat, rods, reels, baits)? Oh man, I hope my wife doesn’t read this. I have thousands invested in fishing equipment, probably more than I need, but I’ll never admit to that. If you added up the money I have tied up in fishing tackle and my boat, you could probably buy a nice house! All of the 25 or so rods in my boat have been hand-built by me. They’re all built on St. Croix blanks, with Fuji guides/reel seats and my own handle design.
Every one of these rods is equipped with a Shimano reel. I’ve beat the snot out of reels for years, and I’ve found that Shimano’s products seem to hold up better than other brands. For spinning tackle, I use the Stradic and Sahara reels, and on my baitcasting rods you’ll find the “old style” Curados and Chronarch reels.
My boat? Ooooh, that’s a beauty. I’m fishing this year out of a FastCat C20. It’s in my estimation, one of the finest high performance fishing platforms available today. It’s only 20’3”, but with the 8’6” beam carried almost all the way to the front, it’s incredibly roomy and more important, stable. Because the catamaran hull is built to racing specifications, it’s lightweight and fast. Powered by a Mercury 250 Pro XS, it runs into the low 80’s at WOT, but at saner speeds, it sips fuel like a rig half its size.
The lures I use are wide and varied, but I do have some favorites. When I’m spinnerbaiting, I throw only Secret Weapon spinnerbaits. They’ve got an innovative design, allowing an angler to change blades in seconds, allowing you to change your lure to meet the conditions of the moment without having to cut and retie. It also means that instead of carrying a ton of different colors, sizes and blade styles, I can carry a dozen bodies, a bunch of different blades and skirts and make the exact spinnerbait I want!
I like Zoom Company’s line of soft plastics, finding their Super Flukes put a lot of bass in the boat for me and my clients. I also use Driftwood Lure Company tubes and stick baits from a friend that pours his own.
12. What is the biggest bass you’ve ever caught, where did you catch it, and on what? The biggest bass I caught (that I weighed) was a 7 lb. 14 oz. beauty out of Lake Okeechobee in Florida. I caught it on a baby bass colored Secret Weapon spinnerbait during one of the two tournaments I fish each year. That fish allowed me to take the “Big Bass” award for the tourney. During that tourney, I did hook into and saw clearly a bass that looked like it could have eaten my seven-pounder! It got off about ten feet from the boat and believe me, I wanted to cry when the hook tore loose!
For a while, I was into my “If it don’t have teeth, its just bait” phase, fishing extensively for muskies. One night, on a little lake here in the Rhinelander area, I was throwing a ten inch topwater lure. I felt/heard a strike and set the hook, but something didn’t feel right. So I set the hook again because I could feel some weight. Still, it didn’t feel right and I thought I had some weeds. Reeling in, expecting to see crud on the line, I was somewhat surprised to see a large smallmouth bass, hooked well and somewhat dazed after the hook sets from heavy muskie tackle. I swung it over the gunwale of the boat and after unhooking it, laid it on the measuring board. It measured just a tad over 25 inches!!! Dang, if ever I should have weighed a fish, it was that night, because I think I released a state record smallie!
The biggest “thing” I’ve ever gotten to the boat was a seven foot alligator that made the mistake of eating my Fluke. I was fishing with 50 pound Power Pro and had that gator to the boat three times! Man, if you want to see mud, water and gator snot fly, hook into one and drag his butt to the boat! It’s an interesting experience and not for the faint of heart.
13. Any sponsors that you want to give some credit to? Yes, Secret Weapon Lure Company (http://www.secretweaponlures.com ) has been very good to me. They make a quality product and the president, Joe Haubenreich has become a close personal friend over the years. I’d also like to thank my wife Janet for allowing me to follow my dreams.
14. You operate a guide service, can you tell us a little bit about that? Sure! It’s actually kind of a funny story. As a firefighter, I work 24 hour shifts, and have a fair amount of time off, so I have a lot of time to fish. I met a guy that had even more time off than me due to a back injury and numerous surgeries, Gil Daugherty. He soon became my best friend and we were constantly gone fishing and hunting.
We were out fishing one day, past the time when we were supposed to be home and discussing how mad our wives were going to be. I said, “You know Gil, if we became fishing guides, we’d HAVE to be out on the water on a daily basis, so that we would know what the fish are doing, in case we get paying clients. Gil warmed to that idea, adding that it would give us a valid reason to buy more gear and upgrade what we had, because clients can’t fish with junk, and we have to have the right stuff. The more we talked the better it sounded and thus G & S Guide Service was formed. The G and the S stand for Gil and Steve, pretty witty huh?
Well, I’ve always been kind of a computer geek, and with a degree in Graphic Arts, I put together a website, http://www.herefishyfishy.com . That was a mistake! Shortly after that, we started getting clients and our time fishing together has gotten less and less each year! Talk about a perfect plan for fooling the wives going bad!
Well, that was 15 years ago, and we’re still at it. We like the idea of teaching clients to fish, rather than just putting them on fish. As the day continues, we’re constantly explaining why we’re doing this, how this works and what is going on. It really makes me happy when at the end of a day, the client says, “Thanks Steve, I had a great time and I learned a lot.” Then, when I get an email from an excited client, with a digital picture of a great fish that was caught using a method learned from me, I get a “warm fuzzy” feeling.
We fish primarily for bass and muskies, but have and will guide for walleyes and even crappies if asked. We provide all the equipment and lures. We have good equipment and nice boats, providing a safe and comfortable day on the water. All a client has to bring is clothes appropriate for the weather, a valid Wisconsin fishing license and a desire to have fun and learn a little.
Thanks for the opportunity to bore you to tears, but remember, UltimateBass.com asked…