We're into the Outdoors

Professional angler Pete Maina, in his own words. “Well, as far as what I do for a living, it’s been...

February 7, 2019

Professional angler Pete Maina, in his own words.

“Well, as far as what I do for a living, it’s been fishing essentially all my life because I was literally addicted to it very early on growing up on a resort and was just wired that way. I can tell you if I was in trouble in those days it was because I was fishing when I was supposed to be doing some other chores. I just couldn’t get enough of it.”

Fishing guide before he could drive

“I caught my first muskie off the dock when I was five, and I actually did my first guide job at the age of 11. I really didn’t have any grand plan other than I wanted to make a living fishing somehow or, frankly, I just wanted to fish and somehow have got to make a living while I’m doing it.”

The “Muskie Guy”

“So, I started in summers at the age of 14 and just kept doing the guiding thing. But I had already built a business where I could be selective by the time I was 20. I got so wrapped up in it, maybe the ego deal, the hardest fish to catch, whatever it is, but I got to the point where I said, ‘Okay, I’m just going to guide muskies now for a while. I got kind of pinned ‘The Muskie Guy,’ I guess.”

Takes to the airwaves

“One of the most interesting and beneficial things that ever happened through the course of my career was I happened to bump into a guy named John Gillespie. He decided to start a fishing show because he loved it. And I started filming with him 27 years ago now. I was literally the guy that did his first-ever fishing show with him, and I’ve continued to all the way through.

“The power of his show is pretty amazing, so it was unbelievable to help my career on the promotional end as well. So many, many stories of his somewhat haphazard approaches to the way things go. There’s quite a few stories of snafus. Let’s just put it that way.”

Tools of the trade

“[I have] a Recon boat made right in Iola, Wisconsin. It’s a 2185 model. Basically, it’s a big-water boat, but all-species boat. I mainly muskie fish out of it. Tons of deck space. Best horsepower. We’ve got the 300-horse Evinrude* E-TEC*, and I have a 15-hp kicker as well. Many, many lures in there and of course some scattered around the boat too. I’m not all that tidy.”

“But I’ve never hooked myself in the foot, so that I think is fairly important.”

What’s the biggest muskie he’s ever landed?

“The biggest muskie I’ve ever caught, I honestly can’t answer that question exactly, but I’m guessing a couple of 55-inchers. For 20 years, actually, I’ve not measured any of my own personal fish; and I generally don’t, and try and encourage people not to. I’ve kind of gotten known as a voice of conservation and proper handling of muskies. Frankly, measuring fish is an unnecessary act. It just provides more time out of the water, more handling.”

“If you’re going to let it go anyway, in reality, what’s the difference between a 49-incher or a 50-incher. I mean, a fish is a beautiful fish, and the accomplishment is all the same.”

Conservation advocate

“In the early years, it was more like trying to convince people that releasing any fish was even remotely a good idea. It’s pretty amazing when I get into conservation topics. I mean, generally people are more excited about, oh, the hot lure, the newest thing that might help you catch more fish. But when you tell people – I look them straight in the eye, especially if it’s one-on-one, and I say, ‘You know, really, you’re only as good as your fish that you’re on.’ They get it and they’re interested.

“It’s interesting how you tell people when you are literally addicted to the outdoors and very passionate about the outdoors is that I don’t think they – even if you’re trying to be honest with them – I don’t think they realize how much you mean it. And by ‘how much,’ [I mean] how many hours.”

“I mean, this sounds really selfish, but I’ve always just wanted to fish. You know?”

“When I guided, things were simple. You just fished every day. You work on your tackle, and you’re back at night, maybe a little bit the next morning. You go guiding again and you fish every day. It’s simple. I like that.”

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