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SARLEY: Even after 41 years, Petros’ fishing classes still relevant

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Ted Takasaki is probably the most famous walleye fisherman on the planet. He has won countless tournaments on many circuits. He was the first walleye fisherman to win $100,000 in a single tournament. He has the biggest single-day catch in a pro walleye tournament – five fish that weighed an incredible 53.2 pounds. They certainly don’t come better than Ted.

Surprisingly, Takasaki began his pro walleye career as a resident of Algonquin. Face it, people, Illinois is not particularly noted for its spectacular walleye fishing so Ted making it big from these parts was extra special.

He and his regular partner, John Campbell worked full-time for HP and squeezed in tournaments when they could fit them into their daytime job work schedules. They fished the MWC, a partner tournament series, and did quite well. They split up to fish the PWT, and both began to shine as solo competitors.

Ted was soon able to quit his day job and concentrate solely on fishing. In addition to tournaments, sponsorships, appearances, lectures, seminars, tackle design, tapes, videos, books, articles and TV, he became the president of Lindy Legendary Tackle. It’s a great story that many weekend anglers dream of achieving.

What gave Ted Takasaki the confidence to turn into a professional walleye angler? He told me, “Steve, John Campbell and I took the Spence Petros Fishing Classes a long time ago, and that was the beginning. Spence taught us to become better fishermen. We took the knowledge he gave us and put it into practice out on the water. The classes were definitely what put us on the road to our careers.”

Jim Saric of TV’s “Musky Hunter” show was also a Petros student. In addition to TV, Saric owns “Musky Hunter” magazine and is in high demand for appearances and seminars. Saric is, without a doubt, the best muskie fisherman in North America.

He told me, “I’ve fished all my life and always did pretty well, but attending the Spence Petros Fishing Classes was what made me good enough to gain the confidence to become what I’ve become in the world of fishing. Spence is the greatest.”

Takasaki, Campbell and Saric are but a few of the luminaries who have graduated from Spence’s “school.” I have never heard of anyone who came away from the classes thinking their time and money could have been better spent doing something else.

Petros grew up on the West Side of Chicago and fished in Chicago Park District lagoon tournaments at an early age. Of course, he usually won, and that competitive urge is probably what has pushed him to greatness. He was the editor of “Fishing Facts” magazine, hosted “The Outdoor Writers” on national TV. He has designed tackle, written for many magazines and is a regular guest on the Babe Winkelman and Joe Bucher shows.

McHenry resident Petros is bringing his legendary Spence Petros Fishing Classes back for the 41st year.

I can’t stress this strongly enough. Don’t miss these classes. They will do more for your fishing skills than anything else you can do for yourself. There is no magic rod and reel, no super-duper lure, no book or video that will have you catching bigger fish or more fish than the Spence Petros Fishing Classes.

I know that I write about these classes every year around this time. I am sorry if you are tired of reading about them, but I will not stop until Spence does. I owe any fishing talents that I may have to Petros.

I took his classes more than a decade ago. What Spence taught me was so amazing that I had to forget what I had learned over years of fishing experience and switch over to fishing the way Professor Petros taught me.

Petros is in his 70s now, but don’t let that fool you. He can probably still kick the butts of most of the attendees in his classes. He doesn’t look his age and sure doesn’t act it, either.

Although Spence has been teaching his classes for 41 years, his classes aren’t repeats. Every year, he comes up with new methods and approaches that really work. Petros is the best multispecies fisherman I have ever had the privilege of sharing a boat with. He is just as good at finding and catching big bluegills and crappies on a local pond as he is at catching behemoth muskies in Canada.

As always, Petros is offering two separate five-week “Fishing Schools.” The first set of classes covers bass and panfish and runs March 12 to April, 9. Each class runs from 7:30 p.m. until at least 9:30 p.m. That’s five Tuesday nights at two hours each – a total of 10 hours of quality fishing education – for only $80.

The second school covers pike, walleye and muskie and runs March 13 to April 10. Same great deal – 10 hours-plus of Spence for only $80.

The class is perfect for anglers of all skill levels. Spence makes sure he doesn’t teach over the heads of the beginners or too basically for the seasoned veterans. The class has many women and children who attend.

The classes take place at the American Legion Post at 122 W. Palatine Road in Palatine, 2 miles west of Route 53 on the north side of Palatine Road. It’s just minutes from Woodfield Mall and Arlington Park Racetrack. Attendees can purchase beverages, both soft and hard, at the Legion’s downstairs bar.

Spence’s classes fill up quickly. To ensure your enrollment, send $80 to Spence Petros, 2207 Stilling Lane, McHenry, IL 60050. Visit for more information or call 815-455-7770.

Northwest Herald outdoors columnist Steve Sarley’s radio show, “The Outdoors Experience,” airs live at 5 a.m. Sundays on AM-560. Sarley also runs a website for outdoors enthusiasts, He can be reached by email at


Fishing report

Northern Illinois: Fish at your own risk.

From everything I’ve seen, there are plenty of waters with safe ice, but it’s up to you to test. You really don’t want to be the first one out on the ice. This is the kind of fishing where it is OK to follow the crowd.

Don’t forget your rope, spikes, spud bar and flotation devices. The biggest problem facing anglers is the slush, snow and water that are on top of the ice. You need to wear cleats because it is so easy to fall and hurt yourself.

Also, make sure your boots are waterproof before you head out. Once your feet get wet, the party is over. I use a product called Camp-Dry that seems to really do the trick.

For up-to-the-minute water conditions on the Fox Chain and Fox River, visit or call 847-587-8540.

Wisconsin: Call Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Fishing Hotline at 414-382-7920 to hear the latest fishing information for Lake Michigan and its tributaries.
Illinois Conservation Congress

Residents of Illinois interested in natural resources protection and sustainable use, outdoor recreation, and conservation stewardship are invited to participate in the 2013 Illinois Conservation Congress. A series of regional meetings is scheduled for February and March, in advance of the planned statewide Conservation Congress session in September in Springfield.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller said in a statement, “Conservation Congress provides Illinois residents with a direct voice to help guide the future of protecting and enhancing the natural resources of our state, and I encourage individuals and organizations who share our passion for conservation and outdoor recreation in Illinois to register today.”

The regional meetings are scheduled at: Carterville; Normal; Moline; Belleville; and Chicago. The Chicago site is the South Shore Cultural Center located at 7059 S. South Shore Drive and will be March 12 through 14.

At the evening regional meetings, topics discussed will include: “Sustainable Resource Development and Extraction”; “Sustainable Resource Harvest”; “Sustainable Provision of Outdoor Recreation”; “Sustainable Resource Protection”; and “Building Bridges (developing new constituencies, professional development, improving and growing partnerships). For more information, to register for regional meetings, and to provide input to the Illinois Conservation Congress, visit

Hunter, boating safety education

You can register now for Hunter Safety Education and Boating Safety Education courses from the IDNR. There are plenty of classes scheduled, and since classes fill up quickly, check the IDNR website today for class dates and locations. Class schedules are updated frequently. The website link for all IDNR Safety Education course information is

Don’t think you know all the rules and regs because things change from time to time. You need to read the 2013-2015 Illinois Fishing Information guide, which is now available in PDF format through the IDNR website at Regulations in the guide are effective from April 1, 2013, through March 31, 2015. By the way, the Illinois Free Fishing Days for 2013 are June 7 through 10.

Obama appointment applauded

It seems like President Obama’s nomination of Sally Jewell for Department of the Interior Secretary has been applauded by most fishing, outdoors and conservation groups. Jewell is the president and CEO of REI, a major national retailer of outdoor gear and clothing. Prior to joining REI, Jewell already had two decades of experience in commercial banking, and began her professional career as an engineer for Mobil Oil Corporation.

“From an industry perspective, Sally Jewell understands the important role that our public waters and lands have in supporting the nation’s $646 billion outdoor recreation economy,” said American Sportfishing Association President and CEO Mike Nussman. “Given its responsibility for managing approximately one-fifth of the nation’s lands and waters, the Department of the Interior has a significant role in providing recreational fishing opportunities and conserving the nation’s fisheries resources. Public lands and the outdoor recreation economy are closely tied, and Ms. Jewell’s private sector experience in leading a national outdoor equipment retail chain provides her with a valuable perspective that would well-serve the fishing industry and all sportsmen and women.”

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