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Not Just Another Fish Story

By - Mary Tobia
Pennsylvania jounalist
For thirty-five years my husband, myself and our four children who have come and gone, have been spending our summer vacations in the wonderful community of Geddes, South Dakota.

Spending two weeks visiting family and friends is always our yearly oasis away from our Pennsylvania home.

We have visited all of the state attractions many time over, fished the Missouri River, and enjoyed them each, but this summer my husband and I got the opportunity to meet someone who we will never forget.

We were privileged enough to meet South Dakota’s one and only "Walleye Tamer".

The Walleye Tamer is young Geddes entrepreneur Joel Vasek, owner and operator of the South Dakota Outfitters Unlimited.

News and pictures of record catches of this exceptional fisherman had filtered through to us via the hometown paper, the Charles Mix News, making us anticipate meeting him face to face.

This summer, Vasek’s guide service, with the catching of walleye and smallmouth bass fishing has been phenomenal, his clients bringing back their limits on each species of fish.

Vasek is one of the lucky few working-class citizens in America who can proudly admit they have taken their love of a sport and made it into a full time profitable business.

"I started fishing with my dad when I was probably four years old, and I have been fishing ever since," Vasek related.

Growing up on a farm outside of Geddes, he fished in a nearby lake, and as he got older, he was able to purchase an old pick-up truck and a small boat, at which time he started fishing the St. Frances Case on the Missouri River.

During these years of fishing, Vasek honed in on his passion for fishing.

"I have kept a journal for over six years on my fishing experiences each day," Vasek said.

To Vasek, fishing is more than luck, fishing is a science. He has been studying the habits of the fish, the water temperature, and weather conditions. He has learned through his many years of experience where the fish will be in any given month and day of the year.

In 2001, with thanks to his dad who first got him interested in fishing, and his brother who set him up with his own internet web page, plus Vasek’s knowledge and skill for fishing, the South Dakota Outfitters Unlimited got under way.

"I am very busy. I’ve been out with groups fourteen days out of the last sixteen. The hot weather has not affected us, instead, it actually has made it better," Vasek admitted.

Vasek has made his business what it is today by sponsorship, and his many client, both old and new.

With our anticipation peaked, and our South Dakota fishing licenses’ in hand, my husband and I were ready to experience the Walleye Tamer up close and personal.

On our short ride to the river, we were quickly "hooked" on Vasek’s South Dakota charm. His enthusiasm for fishing was evident as he related interesting stories from his past.

"Every fisherman is a liar, but I have a picture for every lie I’ve ever told," Vasek jokingly teased.

It was a beautiful summer evening with a cool breeze just beginning to chase away the record heat from the air.

The boat was put into the water at the Pease Creek boat dock, and as we entered the spotless Lund Pro V boat with its Yamaha 225 four stroke motor, I knew this wasn’t going to be just an ordinary boat ride.

As we slowly traveled over the water, we were treated to some of the most beautiful scenery South Dakota has to offer.

With the help of sonar, Vasek pointed out landmarks above and below the water.

"I know pretty much every inch of this part of the river, I am out on it about 300 days of the year," Vasek said.

After about 45 minutes of pure sightseeing pleasure, the lines were cast, and the down riggers baited.

The wait for the "big one" was on.

The wait was short, and the fish were large.

Excitement ran high as each fish was hooked, reeled in, and brought to the boat and netted. The largest being an almost four pound walleye.

The evening ended far too soon but the memories of a wonderful experience will last forever.

Oh, and why do they call Joel Vasek the Walleye Tamer?

Well the answer to that question is best told by Vasek himself.