Here’s a Chicago Area startup that brings pleasure, relaxation, and satisfaction to tired business people, gets them out in the open air, away from the pressures of the big city, and teaches them to smile again. Does that sound like a worthy goal?
I think so.
Now imagine you’re in waters bounded by trees of all kinds—not a house or building in site! No water skiers. No high-powered outboard motors. Not a boat of any kind!
Well, can you imagine that?
You see the flight of the blue heron, the bald eagle, ducks and geese. A couple of otters. Nobody in your boat sets eyes on another human being all day long! Sound good so far?
This is nature in the raw. You’re drifting a wild river—in strong current—strewn with huge boulders. As you make your way downstream, you shoot several rugged rapids. But due to the skill of your guide and his specialized boat, the ice in your martini glass is never disturbed. You feel at ease the entire day.
You bring along a hat, polarized sun glasses, a rain jacket, but no fishing gear. Your guide hands you an expensive Orvis 8-weight fly rod. It feels surprisingly natural and light in your hand.
Maybe you never cast a fly rod before, but your guide gives you a few pointers and moves the boat a little closer to the target—just to make it simpler for you. Now you’re casting hand-made six-inch streamers at the banks with ease. Soon you find out why the fly rod is favored on the river. It’s the most efficient tool for the job.
And fly-casting is therapeutic and highly relaxing.
Soon you thrill to strikes from trophy smallmouth bass that fight like a tigers. The fish here grow fat as footballs. Landing one in the heavy current on a fly rod takes all your skill and strength. I can think of nothing else that gives this kind of peace and satisfaction.
Yes, we all dream of exotic trips to faraway places. But this one requires no passport. No airplane tickets. All this is happening on the Wisconsin River—a three-hour car ride from Chicago!
You gain entry to this paradise in an unusual little boat—a specially designed dory—incredibly maneuverable—easily able to withstand these rocky rapids.
Motorized aluminum rowboats and jon boats risk ripping open their bottoms and ruining their props and lower units on submerged rocks. Electric trolling motors are useless. These rapids swamp canoes and challenge kayaks. A $75,000 bass boat wouldn’t last an hour.
But the diminutive dory makes for safe passage and provides a comfortable and stable platform for you to cast your line with accuracy. It makes the raging water seem calm.
Your guide controls the boat with incredible precision using oars.
The specialized equipment and the guide’s skill allow you to gain entry to this paradise. Almost nobody else can get in here. That makes for very little fishing pressure. That means abundant game, eager to attack your offering. And the bass here are much larger than those found on famous rivers out east.
Now, THIS is what I’m talkin’ about!
Abe Downs—a chemist by profession—runs Great Northern Fly Fishing out of Stevens Point Wisconsin—just three hours north of Chicago. He’s an Orvis-certified guide and brings his scientific training and businesslike professionalism to bear alongside his extensive fishing knowledge. He’ll even get you a discount at a local restaurant.
Abe switches to musky with the fly rod in the Spring and Fall and scores a good percentage of the time. I love fishing musky but they’re called “The Fish of a Thousand Casts” with good reason. In contrast, these huge smalleys seem always voracious for a meal—even after a cold front! They fight harder than pike. And they bite in the summertime!
Okay, I hear the objections. This ain’t no startup because—because what? Because Abe doesn’t plan to grow like Uber?
Bosh! This little company may not present an investment opportunity for your venture capital fund, but it’s a startup all the same—and quite a successful one. He’s booked most every day of the season. Like a tech startup, he makes use of specialized technology and proprietary knowledge to operate the business. Few can compete in his niche.
And he brings pleasure, relaxation, and satisfaction to himself and his clients. Does that sound like a worthy goal?
I think so.
On one trip this summer, my fishing partner was my son. On another, it was my friend, Rod Erickson. Neither fished with fly rod and streamer ever before. Both learned quickly and—truth be told—out-fished me. I think Abe is a good teacher.
Photography by John Jonelis, Robert Jonelis, and Rod Erickson
1020 Tree Lane, Plover, WI 54467
Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved