A fishing guide not only has to put his clients in contact with fish that bite, he has to impart some of his knowledge and experience to them, as well. In other words, a good guide is as much a good teacher as he is a good fisherman.
That probably is one of the reasons McHenry County’s Carl Kaufmann is such a well-respected fishing guide. He was a teacher and coach for 40 years at a variety of schools.
Carl has lived in Woodstock with Dottie, his wife of 48 years, for the past 44 years. They raised four children there and now often host their 17 grandchildren for visits.
Kaufmann has been an avid fisherman for most of his life.
“My earliest memory in my life is being out in a boat, fishing with my grandpa,” he said.
Kaufmann specializes in guiding clients on southern Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva and Lake Delavan. He began his career as a guide when he was the president of the Walleye’s Unlimited club. He booked legendary guide Tom Billings to speak at the club. He later bumped into Billings while he was fishing on Lake Geneva. Billings told Kaufmann that he ought to try guiding.
Kaufmann was considering the possibility when Billings called him and told him that he had scheduled a corporate outing that required additional guides. He asked Carl if he was interested in taking some of the clients out for the day. Carl consented and continued to help Billings with his trips for five years before striking out on his own. He’s been a solo act ever since.
Billings admits that his career in education has made him a better guide. The number of clients who book Carl and bring along a child on their trip is a testament to his ability to work with kids.
“I have a lot of patience and understanding with people, especially children,” Kaufmann said. “I learned that what is easy for one person isn’t necessarily easy for another person. I truly enjoy being able to take people out and enhance their experience on the water.”
“There is nobody I could recommend more to go out with on Geneva or Delavan than Carl Kaufmann,” McHenry Fishing Hall of Famer Spence Petros said. “Carl is a great guy and he always catches fish. I recommend him highly.”
Carl has had many great trips and many great clients, but there is one in particular that brings a smile to his friendly face. It’s a couple, in their 60s, from Wisconsin.
“Her birthday is in June and I would be in big trouble with her if I gave that date away to someone else,” he said. “She is in my schedule a year in advance. They always catch fish and always have a great time. She gets so excited. She whoops and hollers every time she hooks into a fish.”
Last year, after she underwent surgery, she had to bring an oxygen tank.
“We hadn’t even started the big motor when she hooked into her first bass,” he said. “The shouting started. Next cast, she got a big 4 1/2-pounder. ... It was so rewarding to watch her. I knew she wouldn’t stop until she physically was unable to cast anymore. “
It’s not always the most fish or the biggest fish that make the best experiences. Sometime it’s the sharing the event with people. Going fishing with Kaufmann puts it all together as the total package.