We’re happy to announce we can take even more groups of anglers fishing on the Mississippi River as Jarrad Fluekiger and his son, Jordan, have added a second airboat to their fleet! Book a guided fishing trip on the Mississippi River or Lake Pepin today by visiting their website, Rutting Ridge Outfitters. See ya on the water…or ice!
Bright was the sunshine and lively the wind last week as Jarrad Fluekiger and his son, Jordan Fluekiger, guided four buddies who wanted to fish walleye and sauger on Lake Pepin.
All was right, all was as it should be as the Fluekiger legacy continued on the Mississippi River.
The father-son are the third and fourth generation of Fluekigers to make their living on the river, helping shape it, work it, dredge it, hunt it, fish it. That river is in their history and blood, it’s part of their livelihood, their love, their passion. They’ve lived close to it, and during the 1965 mega-flood, some lived in it.
The Fluekigers are not alone, of course. Other families have river histories going back several generations. There is something about that river that just pulls people to it.
The father-son Fluekiger duo fish from Red Wing down past LaCrosse, Wis., and guide wherever the fish are biting. In fall, Jarrad guides deer hunters as Rutting Ridge Outfitters in Buffalo County, Wis., that has had more trophy deer shot there than any other county in the country; he also owns two motels and is a real estate agent.
His son guides and works summers as a deckhand on a Corps of Engineers towboat christened the “Fluekiger” in honor of his great-grandfather and two great uncles. Now 20, Jordan was 19 when he got his captains license to guide, making him the youngest captain in the area, maybe the whole river.
The two also fish walleye professionally.
Two Centuries on the River
The legacy that continued last week onto Pepin, a large natural reservoir of the Mississippi, began in the late 1800s when the family moved to the Alma, Wis. area, at first up a nearby, said Lee Fluekiger, Jarrad’s father. After a while the valley became known as “The Badlands” because one of his ancestors made moonshine there. “It’s still called the Badlands,” he said.
The first generation to work the river were brothers Harry, Clarence and Walter “Buck.”
Lee said his dad, Harry, began working on the river by cutting down trees to clear land that would be flooded when the locks and dams were built in the early 1930s. That was before chainsaws, he said. After serving in World War II, he became an electrician on the Alma and Whitman locks and dams, Clarence was the captain of the legendary dredge William A. Thompson and Buck captained the next largest dredge. When the two worked together, “their partying was quite extensive,” Lee said.
After the three brothers came Lee, now 70, who owned a bait shop in Alma, and guided and fished the river. He also worked for two summers on the Delta Queen paddleboat that took tourists from St. Paul to New Orleans and up to Pittsburgh.
His most unusual experience on the river — the Mississippi is rich with them — was when he and a friend were fishing a backwater near Wabasha. They saw a nice styrofoam cooler and found it was duct-taped shut. Curious, they opened it and found another smaller cooler. Inside that was a burial urn and a note from a man from St. Paul who wrote that the urn contained ashes of his father who wanted to take one last trip down the river. If it got past Lake Pepin, he asked that the ashes be returned; Lee and his friend did and received $500.
And now his son and grandson are carrying on the legacy. As to which of the three is the best fisherman, Lee said “it’s always me.” Okay, the other two will probably say the same thing but know it’s all in good fun. They’re all good.
The Mississippi has such a powerful pull, he said, “it gets in your blood, the smell, being around it.”
Can’t get enough of it’
Before Jarrad launched his large fishing boat bristling with rods, he said much the same thing: “Once you are born on the river, you smell that river, you feel that river, the sound of the river, everything about the river, you can’t get enough of it,” he said. He went away to college and worked another job for six years and they were the worst six years of his life, he said.
His son matched those thoughts.
“I was born on the river literally. I have been fishing since I was two,” he said. “I remember throwing my Snoopy pole in the water because I was mad.” Having such deep family history on the river is a thrill for him, “we have a passion for that we do.” He never worries about living up to the Fluekiger legacy. “I just worry about catching fish,” he said.
Last week on that hot, breezy day, the two guided four buddies: Rory Nelson and Jack Dellger from Plymouth, Wis., Joe Suttner from Elkhart Lake, Wis., and Shawn Marcom from West Olive, Mich.
Dellger said he began fishing with Lee about 20 years ago. “The grandpa was the storyteller,” he said. “Jarrad has a little bit of that in him.” As for Jordan, “he is nothing like them, it’s pure kid, a nice young man, a hard worker.”
There was work to be done.
They did well the day before and left from the Hok-Si-La landing just north of Lake City, heading upriver past Frontenac to a large flat near where the Rush River enters Pepin. The Rush and some other streams coming in are trout streams so they bring in cooler water, Jarrad said. That attracts bait fish, they attract walleye and sauger. To catch them, they used nine lines per boat (they have Wisconsin licenses) and used most planer boards to space out the lines as they trolled.
Within minutes, one board lurched.
“Nice and easy, nice and easy,” Jarrad said as one of the clients reeled it in. It seemed like a big one but was a foul-hooked smaller one that went back.
“That gets your heart going in the morning, doesn’t it!” Jarrad said. “Let’s do it again, just getting bigger and bigger.”
As they trolled up the lake, he predicted better things. “This where we caught them yesterday,” he said.
Sure enough, another fish — a sheephead. “You can’t fish the river without catching sheephead,” he said.
Bang! Within minutes, another fish that Nelson reeled in nice and easy. It was around 26 inches, “the biggest walleye of my life,” he said. “It was awesome, it felt like a big fish and it was.” It’s going to be mounted, he said as he grinned and grinned some more.
Jarrad liked that. “Seeing a smile on their face puts a smile on my face,” he said.
He kept looking around, checking where his boat was, which way the wind blew, which crank baits were working best, how deep the baits should go, how far back. Things change all the time on the river but “it’s the river,” he said. “If you know the river, it fishes pretty much the same everywhere. You learn to read the current seams.”
The job is work, it can be hard work. In fact, he said on the river, he’s called on to be more than a guide. When people are in his boat, they relax, want to talk. He’s heard about personal problems, financial upsets, marital woes. He sees himself as part counsellor and psychologist. Not on that day with the two buddies, though because it was all about fishing, and fishing stories and history of the river.
As he fished, he kept in touch with his son who was trolling nearby, finding out what was, or wasn’t working. As it turned out, his son’s boat was ahead.
“We all have out own unique characteristics on what we do better,” Jarrad said. He refused to say which of the three – grandpa, father and son – is best. But he’s really proud of his son. “Who wouldn’t want your son working and fishing with you,” he said. “I’m sure my dad had a lot of pride when I began guiding at 17.”
As he chatted and trolled, the number of walleye and sauger in the live wells began to grow. Each client had his one walleye longer than 20 inches so some nice fish had to go back. Slowly, they added walleye and sauger, tossing back a few sheephead.
Eventually, they had their limits and so did Jordan’s boat.
They roared back to Hok-Si-La with their clients’ limits and smiles.
They had written another page in the Fluekiger legacy on the Mississippi.
ALMA, WI- After reviewing all the applications for an Action Track Chair, RUTTING RIDGE FOUNDATION is excited to announce this years recipients of an ACTION TRACK CHAIR. This year it goes to MAX (AGE 12) and JAKE LESPERANCE (AGE 10) of Neenah WI. MAX AND JAKE both suffer from AT, Ataxia-telangiectasia, or “A-T,” is a progressive, degenerative disease that affects a startling variety of body systems. The first signs of the disease usually appear early in childhood (the toddler stage), when children begin to walk. Though they usually start walking at a normal age, they wobble or sway when walking, standing still or sitting. The onset of this ataxia marks the beginning of progressive degeneration of a part of the brain, known as the cerebellum that gradually leads to a general lack of muscle control, and eventually confines the patient to a wheelchair.
Here are a couple pictures of Max and Jake test-driving a couple of ACTION CHAIRS for fit. Marks comments this week, “The smiles” as they cruised through the yard in the snow, no words. Thanks and bless all of you!”
Rutting Ridge Foundation would like to thank all of you that helped support the foundation over the last year. With out your support we would not be able to make this happen. Rutting Ridge Foundation will be giving one ACTION TRACK CHAIR to the family so that both kids will be able to use the chair. Once there new Action Track Chair is delivered they will be going on hunts in Buffalo County, WI with Rutting Ridge outfitters, LLC.
Rutting Ridge Foundation Inc. is a 501 c3 non-profit company (EIN #81-0756532) that was created to help physically challenged youth and veterans enjoy a hunting/fishing trip of a lifetime that they would not normally be able to experience. From hunting giant whitetails & turkeys in Buffalo County, Wisconsin, to fishing for 10 pound walleyes in the Mississippi River, it’s an outdoor adventure they will never forget!
If you would like to help support the RUTTING RIDGE FOUNDATION please visit us on our website at www.ruttingridgefoundation.org. If you would like to be part of our next fundraiser we are having a 52 gun raffle that starts on June 2nd. Please contact either Mike Bahr Jarrad Fluekiger Erin Buck Lorenson Laura Harrington or Joe Breznik if you would like a raffle ticket.
If you know anyone that would like to be a candidate for an action chair that lives in Wisconsin and is under the age of 25 please feel free to fill out the application listed on our website.
CLICK HERE FOR REGISTRATION FORM
Once a year the RUTTING RIDGE FOUNDATION, INC puts on their annual Ice fishing Tournament with pro ice fisherman and locals to raise money for handicapped youth and veterans under the age of 25 that lost their lower extremities. This year our event will be held on January 21, 2017 for the fundraiser banquet and the actual MAYHEM on the MISSISSIPPI RIVER ICE FISHING TOURNAMENT on January 22, 2017.
January 22, 2017
1-2 person teams
SPECIES— 20 panfish consisting of crappies bluegills or perch
ENTRY FEE– $200
FISHING HOURS—– 7 AM until 1PM.
ESTIMATED PAYOUT 95%
Subject to change based on majority at Rules Meeting
BASED ON 50 TEAMS@ 200$ Team
JAN 21, 2017
KIDS ICE FISHING CLINIC- 12- 2pm. FREE GEAR GIVEWAWAY
Followed by ON THE ICE FISHING
RULES MEETING – will be held JAN 21 at the ROD AND GUN CLUB in Alma WI at 6 pm.
RUTTING RIDGE FOUNDATION BANQUET
FOLLOWS RULES MEETING FREE TO PUBLIC
ALASKAN DREAM CRUISE from JOHN HALL’ ALASKA
WILDLIFE PRINTS FROM WILD WINGS
AND MUCH MORE………….
email firstname.lastname@example.org for REGISTRATION FORMS
Line up will be by how you register
All entry fees will be collected on Sat night at the rules meeting Local area businesses will be adding extra money to the payout
Discounted lodging will be available at Hillcrest Motel
LOCAL BROTHERS TAKE 2nd in FIRST ANNUAL
PRO ICE TOURNAMENT
ALMA, WI- TEAM USA Ice fishing team and Ice fishing pros from across the Midwest met up in Alma, WI this last weekend for its first annual Pro Ice fishing tournament called the North American Ice fishing Circuit (NAIFC). 38 teams from NE, WI, IA, MN, WI, IL, and MI drilled 1000’s of holes to find the biggest 16 fish combo of perch, crappie or sunfish. Team Adam Trites and Chris Ginnever from Michigan took home the top honors with a 16 fish limit of fish weighing 12.49 pounds anchored by a 1.75# crappie. Right behind 1st place winners were local brother team Paul and Rick Radatz from Nelson WI. with a bucket of 16 fish weighing 11.55 lbs. Trailing in 3rd place was TEAM USA, Chad Schaub and Anthony Rodriquez, both of Michigan, came with a heavy bucket of fish that was short of a pound from winning at 11.4 lbs. Team USA next stop is at the World Ice Fishing Championship in the Ukraine.
The weekend started out on Friday with Team USA leading the seminar demonstrations with ice fishing strategies, what tryouts are like for Team USA, and other tools/presentations used during tournaments in other countries. Followed by demonstrations of using your equipment under the right conditions with help from an Aqua-view. All people attending received 50% off any purchases made with Aqua View Cameras.
Saturday kicked out one of the most memorable experiences for Team USA and other ice fishing pros been part of. Over 40 kids and parents hit the Alma Rod and Gun club for KIDS ICE FISH CAMP. Each child and parent learned ice safety and ice fishing fundamentals, followed by one on one ice fishing, with TEAM USA, off of Breckow’s landing just north of Alma. Kids from all over got an education they will never forget and memories that will last a lifetime. Each kid was able to keep their fish they caught as well as the fishing rod. HT enterprises donated these rods to each individual. HT Enterprises is the world’s largest manufacturer of quality ice fishing tackle.
Following the KIDS ICE CAMP was the charity banquet put on by the RUTTING RIDGE FOUNDATION, INC. Rutting Ridge Foundation Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit company that was created to help physically challenged youth and veterans enjoy a hunting/fishing trip of a lifetime that they would not normally be able to experience. From hunting giant whitetails & turkeys in Buffalo County, Wisconsin, to fishing for 10-pound walleyes in the Mississippi River, it’s an outdoor adventure they will never forget! Their memorable experience doesn’t stop there. We also provide our wheelchair bound outdoorsmen & women the means to be able to continue enjoying the outdoors long after their trip with us are over. Through the generous donations received from our friends, supporters & sponsors we are able to provide them with their very own Action Chair. These tank type wheelchairs allow them to go off road/trail and into areas that standard wheelchairs can only hope to go. Mud & hills are nothing more than fun obstacles. The chairs become theirs to keep, so they can experience the outdoors on their terms and access all the areas they desire.
If you would like to be a sponsor of RUTTING RIDGE FOUNDATION, INC or would like to donate products feel free to contact us at: email@example.com
Special thanks goes out to all the sponsors that helped put this charity event together; Hillcrest Motel and Lodging, Rutting Ridge Outfitters in Buffalo County, WI; The Lost Shed Outfitters in Ohio, Tall Tine Outfitters in Illinois, Alma Hotel, Wild Wings of Lake City, MN; Big Eye Custom Lures, River Valley Outfitters in Wabasha, MN; Durand Smoke House in Durand, WI; Eau Galle Cheese, Bite-me- Tackle in Mondovi, WI; Oahe Wings and Walleyes South Dakota, River Guiding Services of Alma, TORO Company, Jason Sullivan’s TIP DOWN, Ryan Sports shop in Durand WI; Willie and Laura Jacobsen of Bear Scents, Alma Rod and Gun Club, John Hall’s Alaska Cruises, and many more…THANK YOU!
Hillcrest Motel is proud to be hosting ice fisherman this winter! We are your headquarters for the January 22-24, 2016 NAIFC Ice Fishing Tournament, so please contact us for more information about that weekend and stay with us!
If you’re traveling to this area of western Wisconsin to partake in some of the walleye fishing, come stay with us at Hillcrest Motel! Owner, Jarrad Fluekiger, is a professional fisherman and guide on Lake Pepin and the Mississippi River. The walleye fishing is hot right now and Jarrad knows how to stay on the fish. Book a guided fishing trip with Jarrad during your stay and learn valuable insight into fishing this river system for years to come. Call 608-685-3511 to book your trip today!
Welcome to beautiful Buffalo County and Alma, Wisconsin! Hillcrest Motel and Lodging is now under new ownership and we look forward to meeting all our existing and new customers this year! Please call us at 608-685-3511 to book your stay with us. Thank you!
Buffalo County Wisconsin is number one for entries in the Boone & Crockett record books, and Hillcrest Motel & Lodging is your connection to some of the best whitetail hunting in the world! Owner, Jarrad Fluekiger, operates Rutting Ridge Outfitters where he has exclusive access to thousands of acres of prime trophy whitetail properties. Visit Jarrad’s other website to learn more about hunting Buffalo County, or give us a call at 608-685-3511.