Twenty Questions With Walleye Pro Marianne Pfister-Huskey
This week we get to know a new Pro Angler who started fishing professionally in 2009. She's the only female Pro on the AIM Pro Walleye Series circuit, and was more than happy to share her experiences with us through our new article series called, "Twenty Quesitons".
Marianne has also agreed to join us this coming Wednesday night, (Nov. 25th) for our weekly Fireside Chat, and will be our Host for one hour. The chat begins at 7PM Central Time, so mark your calendars and don't miss out on what's sure to be a fun hour!
Not only does she fish competitively, but with bow in hand she also hunts the Northern wilderness of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for deer. Let's find out a little more about this intriguing woman of the outdoors.
Juls: Who is Marianne Huskey?
Marianne: I have a love for the outdoors. I am highly motivated, and hard working. I start my day with a work out at the gym and then with coffee in hand I am hard at it.
My love for the water is overpowering. Whether it is in the boat or on the ice I can spend countless hours fishing. I love to experience new bodies of water.
Both on the water and on the ice I enjoy meeting new anglers and talking with them about the experiences they have had on that body of water.
Besides fishing I am the owner of a General Contracting company in St. Ignace Michigan.
I also participate in community and youth events to promote the outdoors.
Bow hunting for whitetail deer is another past time for me. I have been bow hunting for 11 years.
I look forward to the upcoming AIM Pro Walleye Series tournaments for many years to come.
Juls: When did you first start fishing and who took you?
Marianne: I first started fishing when I was 7 years old. I grew up in Charlevoix, Michigan and went out on my Grandfather’s 27’ Sea ray. We were in search of perch on Lake Michigan fishing 3 freighters that were sunk off the shore of the cement plant.
I will never forget that day. The sky was grey and it was raining so hard you could see each drop explode onto the calm waters of Lake Michigan.
Grandpa set the anchor and handed me a rod and reel. This is when I put my first crawler on a single hook. I quickly learned how to let out the line, so that it would drop near the bottom where the fish were.
Those of you who know me will understand this next statement.
I was one of those kids who always said I will do it myself. I never wanted anyone to help me. I guess you could say I was stubborn. So as grandpa tried to show me, I refused. No I can do it, I would say.
Needless to say, I opened the bail and the line with a split shot, single hook and crawler dropped down to the bottom.
I gave the handle a turn and then all of a sudden there was a tug at the other end. Holy cow! Fish on! I was so excited, yet I knew it wasn’t over until I got the fish in the boat, and with my personality I was going to prove to the family that I could, in fact, do it without their help. Sure enough, I had my first perch. It was awesome!
That day we filled up the buckets with perch and then brought them home. Now it was time to clean them.
I helped line the perch up on two make shift tables outside and Gramps said, “we need to scale the fish“.
Grandpa and dad were busy making something in the garage and I was curious to see what came next. They had attached a bottle cap to a 12” piece of 1” wide wood. This is how we scaled the fish.
We had perch dinner that night and I have been hooked on fishing ever since.
Juls: When did you first start fishing tournaments?
Marianne: My first tournament was an ice fishing tournament on Munuscong Bay, Michigan in 1998. The water was shallow and there were in excess of 300 people participating. I loved the competition that was involved.
Juls: 2009 was your first year fishing on the Pro side of a Pro/Am event. How did you like it?
Marianne: Making the jump to the professional level of tournament fishing was a great experience. I was unsure how the other anglers would react to a young female joining the pro side, but each and every one was welcoming and very professional at all times. I believe that this has much to do with the anglers who fish the AIM circuit. These guys really have it together when it comes to tournament fishing.
I feel so fortunate to have been surrounded by some of the best anglers in the country, and I look forward to many more years to come.
Juls: How do you approach a body of water you've never fished before? How do you break it down?
Marianne: When approaching a new body of water the planning begins nearly a month before arriving to that body of water. I begin by purchasing paper maps. Making sure that I have the appropriate Navionics chip designed for that body of water. Then studying those paper maps as well as sitting in my boat while it is on land and reviewing the maps on my Lowrance with the Navionics chip loaded. I will also review the lake with all of the detailed contours on my lap top as well while using Navionics Hot Maps Explorer.
I also use the internet as a tool to read fishing reports from that body of water. Depending on the time of year I will research the history of the body of water as well. This is important when fishing a reservoir such as the Missouri River due to the water levels rising and falling each year. I will call local bait shops in the area to give me advice on the local hot spots.
Once arriving I will already have a mental picture of the lake, reservoir, or river. I will know where each launch site is and whether there is a launch fee or not.
When breaking down the body of water after arriving I begin by covering areas with breaks, structure, and weed beds. Watching my graph closely to see what size fish are present as well as bait fish.
Depending on the area that I find fish this is where I decide what presentation to use. Then color and bait size is applied.
Juls: When did you get your first "very own" boat?
Marianne: My first “very own” boat was a Lund 18’ Fisherman in 2004. There was never a question on the manufacturer for me. I had fished out of a Lund for many years. I had been in many other boats but Lund was always my first love. I also was looking for a Lund that was powered with a Mercury motor, and to this day my choice is Lund and Mercury.
Juls: Who are your sponsors?
Marianne: My current sponsors are Lund Boats, Mercury Marine, Maple Bay Marina in Brutus Michigan, Navionics, Costa Del Mar, Macks Lure, Columbia, Optima Batteries, Mackinaw Outfitters in Mackinaw City, Michigan, and Outcast Musky Lures. I am honored to be joining forces with Offshore Tackle and Bert’s Custom Tackle as well for the 2010 season.
Juls: Who is your dealer? And, what will you be running next year?
Marianne: My dealer is Maple Bay Marine in Brutus, Michigan. I have to say I have talked to many other pros about dealers and I think I have the best dealer in the country. Tim, Dustin and staff are always there for me. I call them up and they make sure my needs are met right away. I can always rely on Maple Bay Marine for any Lund or Mercury questions or routine maintained.
Next year I will be running the Lund Explorer 2010 powered by a 200hp Mercury and a 9.9 Mercury Pro Kicker. I ran the Lund Explorer this year and it was a great boat. The storage in the Explorer is amazing.
When I cleaned out all of my tackle at the end of this season and made a “huge pile” in my garage I had to do a double take. I could not believe I had that much tackle, rods, and everything else in there. I felt like I was going to have 12 clowns jump out next. Actually considered building a bigger garage. LOL
Juls: You fished the AIM circuit this past year. How did you like that format?
Marianne: Fishing the AIM circuit in 2009 was the best decision I have made in a long time. The CRR (catch, record, release) format is going to be the future of tournament angling. There are so many positive notes for the CRR.
Managing our lakes, rivers, and reservoirs is very important not only to the professional angler but to our future anglers and our current anglers.
When an AIM tournament comes to a community they can be assured that we are taking the upmost care of the fish by recording and releasing them back into the waters to be caught another day.
This process takes less than 30 seconds and since we don’t have to worry about slot limits, or having to upgrade our fish it takes some of the pressure off.
I found myself in Antioch, IL for a WWA tournament in October and the first fish I caught I was immediately looking for the camera. I had to giggle and proceeded to put the fish in the live well.
I enjoy the CRR format more than any other and look forward to catching, recording and releasing more fish in 2010.
Juls: Will you be fishing any team events this year? And, if so, what circuit? And, who will your partner be?
Marianne: I have been exploring the possibility of fishing the Eastern Division of the MWC in 2010. Theresa Meade and I have been discussing an all women’s team for these tournaments. Theresa is a wonderful woman and a great angler. She has professional tournament experience with a history of fishing the PWT.
Juls: Do you get nervous in the mornings on competition days?
Marianne: On tournament days I begin at 4:30 a.m. I like to get up extra early to have my coffee, go over my game plan and make sure everything is in place and ready for the tournament day.
I feel that with these extra few hours it helps take away the nervous feeling a little, but as in any competitive sport there are always those little butterfly’s hanging around my stomach.
Juls: Do you do any guiding?
Marianne: At this time I do not do any guiding for monetary purposes. I do however take kids or friends out on the water for a new fishing experience as often as possible.
Juls: What are your favorite top 5 fisheries?
- St. Mary’s River, Michigan
- Green Bay, WI
- Saginaw Bay, MI
- Lake Erie
- Burt Lake, MI
Juls: If you could only pick one presentation to use what would it be? What's your favorite?
Marianne: If I had to pick one presentation it would be trolling. Trolling in the shallows of Raber and Munuscong Bay, Michigan in the spring with the smile blade from Macks Lure is one of my favorite. It proves to be challenging and can produce large walleyes. I started using smile blades in the U.P in June of 2000 with what we called back then a camo color. It was a yellow blade with red specks on it. The real name of the smile blade is Chart. Red Tiger and the 1.1” blade proves to work the best on the month of June. Trolling from ½ mile per hour to 1 mile per hour tipped with a crawler.
The smile blades will spin at speeds as slow as ¼ mile per hour. You can find these smile blades at www.mackslure.com. Each and every year this smile blade produced the largest fish. Using nothing but a split shot and letting 30’ of line out behind the boat. Fishing in 4 fow to 6 fow the fish would hammer the baits every time.
Juls: How do you decide how you're going to fish on any body of water you visit? What is the thought process of deciding when to troll or use another presentation?
Marianne: When arriving at a new body of water I always seem so begin with what I call the local presentation. This would consist of the presentation that is most popular among the local anglers.
The difference for me is this… I love to think outside of the box and try new presentations or change the common presentation.
Deciding to troll, jig, or rig comes from many factors such as type of body of water, and time of year. With a background of large bodies of water I will find myself wanting to troll from the get go. With trolling you can cover more water in less time. Therefore I will set guidelines for myself so that I will only troll for a certain number of hours and if it does not produce it is time to pull out the jigging, rigging or casting rods and think outside of the box.
Juls: I'm assuming you will be fishing the AIM circuit again this year, and sites have not been announced yet, as of this writing....will you be committing to all the events for 2010 again?
Marianne: I will be committing to all of the AIM Pro Walleye Series tournaments in 2010. The AIM circuit is my number one priority. My heart and soul is in the AIM circuit. The hurdles that have been overcome by this group of Professional Anglers is huge. I am so glad to be a part of the AIM Pro Walleye Series Circuit from the first “Trial Run” tournament, and I believe that we will see more professional anglers joining us in 2010.
Juls: You did a fantastic job working with the NPAA Kids Clinics at the AIM events. Will you be involved with that again for 2010?
Marianne: Thank you Juls.
I enjoyed working with the kids for the NPAA Youth Clinics in 2009. As a matter of fact I will be heading up all of the NPAA Youth Clinics for each of the AIM Pro Walleye Series Tournaments in 2010. I will be putting together a format to be followed for each NPAA Youth Clinic. My objective is to catch the interest in each and every young person who attends these clinics so they want to take their new fishing pole, and tackle out to the local stream or lake and catch fish on their own. Hopefully we will create some young upcoming pro’s as well. It is important to pass on our love for the outdoors not only to our children but to families who are looking to enjoy the outdoors with new activities. I have put together a team of pro anglers who also fish the AIM circuit that will help to make this possible. They are Jesse Buechel, Greg Yarbrough, and Scott Duncan. Each one of these guys has something positive to bring to the table and I look forward to working with them for 2010.
Juls: Do you have kids of your own? Does he/she/they fish too?
Marianne: I have a son named Gunnar. He is 16 years old and we fished a tournament together in the Saginaw River in October.
Gunnar has been fishing with me since he was 6 years old and enjoys it very much. He has been featured in articles in our local paper in St. Ignace, MI. for some of his fish. I know Gunnar will pass down the tradition to his children in the future.
Juls: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to get into Tournament Walleye fishing?
Marianne: If anyone is looking to get into tournament fishing I would say to contact your local walleye club and attend one of the meetings, go to one of their weigh ins to see what it is all about. Tournament fishing is a great way to meet new anglers and to learn now tactics on walleye fishing. You can learn something new from each person you fish with regardless of level of experience. So get out there and give it a try. Who knows I may see you on the AIM circuit in no time at all.
Juls: What is the most memorable fishing experience you've ever had?
Marianne: In September 2006 my husband and I headed up to Dog Lake Ontario for our annual fishing trip. We had been fishing Dog Lake since 2001 and couldn’t wait to get there. We trailered my 18’ Lund Fisherman and would have to rent a small 14’ Lund as well due to the fact that some of the smaller lakes in the surrounding areas would not allow us to launch the 18’ Lund. Settling into the cabin and making sure the small Lund was ready, as well as launching the 18’ Lund to be tied to the dock in front of the cabin, we were ready to fish the next day.
Up at the crack of dawn, we headed out on the dock carrying all of the rods, tackle boxes, bait, food and drink for the day. We were off.
Each year it was the same. We would hit the big lake from daylight until around 1pm catching perch then we would come in and trailer the 14’ Lund to a small lake for walleye and fish until dark. This day was to be no different. Wow, were we wrong.
The perch bite was great all morning and since it was our first day up in Canada we couldn’t wait to get to our small hidden walleye lake.
I docked the 18’ Lund and we headed in the cabin to restock the bait and grab a sandwich. We jumped in the truck and headed down the road. Same routine as the prior years, launch the boat and head over to our favorite walleye spot to jig. We both knew that once we got there and dropped anchor it would be one eye after another just like each year before.
Now Tom was never a big fan of safety items. Anything that would restrict movement had to be removed. So the locking system to hold the motor had to be taken off by pulling the pin. There was no need for that.
Tom and I jumped in the boat and I gave my best effort to push us away from shore.
As we floated away from shore Tom tried to start the motor. No luck. He was getting very frustrated. Finally it started with that sound as if it would quit at any moment. Without hesitation he turned the handle to obtain maximum rpm’s. Now for any of you who have ever given the motor full gas without the motor locked in the down position you know what can happen. The motor jumped out of the water throwing water in the air from the prop. Tom was wrestling with the 25hp motor with both arms wrapped around it as it proceeded to come out of the water and then he would put his weight on it and back down it would go. In a matter of 20 sec the motor jumped up and down with Tom attached. It was very comical. Then it quit. It seemed that there was a hole in the fuel line and no pressure would build. Just imagine a 220lb man who first wrestles with a motor and now it won’t start. Once again he was pulling on the cord, and wants to fish NOW. After he almost pulled the cord out of the motor he grabs the motor as if he was going to pick it up and throw it back into the United States. He was a very strong man and I thought he was going to flip the boat.
I started to giggle a little and we were getting farther from shore. This lake was very small and our jigging spot was only 400 yards away. There was no way I was going back so I decided to row the boat out to the spot. Tom never even realized that I was rowing the boat out to the spot; because he was too busy talking to the motor as if it were a going to talk back. He was very determined person and was pulling on the motor cord so hard I thought he was going to pull the cord right out of the motor.
Once we got there it was time to fish. This is when the next problem came up. Now that Tom caught his breath and I had developed arms of steel it was time to get out the bait. Tom asked me to hand him a leach and I grabbed one for myself as well. I went to put the leach on the jig but there wasn’t one. As a matter of fact there wasn’t a single fishing pole in the boat. We were so excited to get to our favorite spot we forgot to get the poles out of the 18’ Lund. We had bait but no poles. So now we have no motor and no poles.
Of coarse I had to row us back in to shore, get in the truck and drive 90mph on a dirt road pulling the small trailer over all of the pot holes to get the poles. I’m not quite sure if the tires on the trailer actually hit the road, but every 20 or 30 ft. with all of the dust I couldn’t see anything. I ran down the dock and grabbed all of the poles and headed back to our little walleye lake.
Retuning in about 15 minutes with poles in hand we headed back out rowing once again to the spot. Finally we can fish. I asked Tom to drop the anchor because I already had my line in the water and was getting a bite.
Tom throws the anchor and we are fishing. Now you would think after all of this we are good to go, Wrong! For some reason we were drifting off of our favorite spot. In order to maintain position it helps if you tie the anchor line to the boat after tossing it over board. So now we have no anchor.
At this point all I can do is laugh like crazy and Tom is telling me to stop laughing. After I was laughing so hard he began to laugh as well. What else can you do?
Once again I row the boat to the shore of a small island and we grabbed a large rock. We tied a rope to it and it was now our make shift anchor. Whatever it takes to catch the walleye, right?
After all of that we still had a couple of hours to fish and we caught lots of walleye. Some of the most memorable moments are not when you catch your biggest fish but when you had the biggest challenges. Now I always make sure all gear is in the boat before heading out to fish. As well as tying the anchor line to the boat.
Oh and don’t forget to always follow the safety tips on your equipment. LOL
Juls: Best of luck to you in your 2010 tournament season!