Who We Are.
Minnesota Steelheader is comprised of an all-volunteer Board of Directors, all-volunteer field staff, and all-volunteer ambassadors who live along the North Shore and throughout Minnesota. Regardless of where we call home, we are all passionate, North Shore anglers who believe strongly in sharing the resources, and passing on our knowledge and this wonderful fishery to other generations.
Minnesota Steelheader is a nonprofit organization driven by volunteers who share a common interest in conserving the Lake Superior steelhead, trout, and salmon fisheries of Minnesota’s North Shore tributaries while informing, inspiring, and educating on the water, on-line, and in our communities.
What Drove Us Originally
Years ago, the lack of North Shore fishing information readily available to Minnesota steelhead anglers had been a frustrating issue. Short of blood, marriage, or interrogation using a hot-shot of sodium pentothal, obtaining basic North Shore information was about as likely as riding a T-Rex to a concert hosted by Ludwig van Beethoven. In 2005, Minnesota Steelheader (MNST) was formed with a strong desire to change that. This first version of this website was the result, and with the help of many bright volunteers over the years, an in-depth resource continues to be developed for all anglers. Here you will find information, information, information, and much much more.
As an award winning non-profit organization registered with the State of Minnesota, we continue to build upon Minnesota Steelheader with cooperative research projects, education, outreach, our long-standing creel program, a variety of seminars, clean-up efforts, organized angler opportunities, volunteer options, collaboration with other stakeholders, and developing an ever-growing resource of in-depth North Shore steelhead, salmon, and trout-related information. We also maintain active social media sites to support our mission.
Meet the Minnesota Steelheader team.
The MNST team are passionate volunteers who donate time, talent, and resources; working together with this common goal: to conserve and protect the natural steelhead, trout and salmon fisheries while informing, inspiring, and entertaining veterans and new-comers alike to North Shore trout and salmon fishery.
Davin – Minnesota Steelheader – President • Director
My Steelheading passion started at the age 17 with my first steelhead caught on what is still one of my most coveted Mid-Shore fishing holes. Since that day of addiction I have worked the retail side of the fishing industry, served on the Board of Directors for the Lake Superior Steelhead Association, fishing guide, and all around North Shore fishing enthusiast.
My fishing adventures have spanned from the rivers of Alaska and BC to the blue waters of Florida and the Virgin Islands and a bunch of wonderful locations in-between. Most of my steelhead fishing has been in Minnesota and Wisconsin, with my largest steelhead out of Lake Michigan back in ’91. That 37″ beauty is still looking good on a wall today, but my most memorable steelhead angling experiences come from the rushing Rivers and Streams of Minnesota’s beautiful North Shore of Lake Superior.
Neil– Minnesota Steelheader – VP • Director
My steelhead mania began towards the tail end of the North Shore hay-days of the 1960’s. If I close my eyes, I can still see (and hear!) the swollen, roiling waters of the Knife River as I stared wide-eyed out of a sleeping bag perched on the tailgate of my Dad’s 1949 Willy’s Overland 4×4. At 4 years old though, I didn’t have much patience or tolerance for the cold… Fortunately my Dad would always figure out a way to get me into fish, even if it wasn’t a steelhead, which was how I was introduced to stream trout.
Later I spent virtually all of my free time exploring Northwest Wisconsin, Southeast Minnesota, and eventually Southeast Wisconsin for trout, steelhead and salmon.
A renewed interest in the North Shore brought me back, but I soon discovered that information about actually fishing the Shore was in short supply, and a new obsession took hold, that of putting together as much statistical data on the Shore as I could lay my grubby little hands on.
Since then I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled and fished all over North America, parts of South America and a fair chunk of Europe; but I am still drawn like iron to a magnet back to the North Shore. I’ve also been party to various conservation organizations as well as developing and running a few websites of my own.
I would like to acknowledge my Dad, “The General” at this point: Teacher, Fishing Partner, Mentor, and Chief Rival. You could drop that S.O.B. in the middle of the effing Sahara Desert and he’d come out with a fish. Unbelievable!!! I hope to become 1/64th the steelhead fisherman he is. Thank you Dad for teaching me everything I know about fishing, now quit holding out!
Todd – Minnesota Steelheader –Treasurer • Director
I owe my fishing heritage to my grandfather. My earliest memories are of salmon eggs under bobbers for stocked rainbows, but Gramps quickly moved me to more interesting environments and presentations. He was a dry fly fisherman and I spent my formative fishing years in the mountain streams of Wyoming and Montana. Fast forward to my adult years and those streams still draw me as do the wild rivers of Alaska, Canada, and Lake Superior.
When I’m not fishing, you can find me with a shotgun chasing pheasants, ducks and geese.
Lisa – Minnesota Steelheader – Secretary • Membership Director • Women on the Fly – Director
Whether it’s out on a boat on the “Big Lake”, drifting a river or casting from shore with her preschooler in tow, where there’s open water you can bet Lisa is fishing it. Not your typical stay-at-home mom, Lisa is a North Shore resident with a passion for Steelheading.
“I love every aspect of this sport but am especially intrigued by the constant challenge of having to adapt to the elements. No matter if it’s water levels, the weather, flies/bait, or just navigating terrain at times (I’m not exactly the most graceful person on earth), there’s always something new to learn and that’s simply awesome. And whenever the opportunity to educate others is presented, I love to do so and think the future of our sport depends on it.”
Birdog – Minnesota Steelheader – Director
Born and raised in NE Minnesota, trout fishing on the North Shore has been one of Birdog’s passions since his early childhood when his Dad would take him to get “trout for breakfast”. He has been a fly fisherman since the mid 80’s, and a dedicated Steelheader a short while after. Though he enjoys using a variety of techniques to catch fish, his favorite technique is swinging flies for steelies, whether with single handed or Spey rods. He has also assisted as a special Guest with DB on a Steelhead episode of Kent Hrbek Outdoors
Birdog, an Instructor Pilot and Operations Support Flight Commander, 133rd Airlift Wing, MNANG has recently retired from serving. He has an awesome wife and 2 great kids. Other interests include; Grouse hunting, canoeing, model railroading, and playing hockey.
Pete – Minnesota Steelheader – Director
Being a true blue Minnesotan who grew up hunting and fishing I always felt like something was missing. Then one day my good buddy DB talked me into going up to the North Shore for a little Steelhead fishing. Ever since that day I have been hooked!! Of course it helped that I caught a fresh steelie on my 8th drift. My steelheading adventures have since spanned to the waters of British Columbia.
Fishing the rivers of the North Shore with buddies is what life is all about.
Aaron – Minnesota Steelheader – Director
I started fishing when I was old enough to stand. From there on every moment I had free was spent on the water. When I was 15 years old I discovered steelhead fishing on the North Shore of Lake Superior and have since made it my passion. Living a few minutes from Duluth MN enables me spend more time on the shore than I probably should but with the fantastic fishery we have it’s hard to stay away! Whether it be targeting salmon and kamloops during the winter months shore casting, drift fishing the rivers during the awesome spring run or even chasing fall run powerhouse steelhead as the leaves start to fall I take advantage of every opportunity to wet a line. If the fish have taught me anything over the years it would be that I need to always stay humble. Rivers change, new tactics develop and I have grown to realize that I myself must do the same to be successful. That’s what I love about steelhead fishing. Every day is different and you never know what may be around the bend or hiding in that next “perfect drift”.
Bryan – Minnesota Steelheader – Director
I was about 12 when I caught my first trout on the white water river in Altura MN. I was on a hunting trip, but I was immediately hooked on trout fishing. Once I returned home the search was on. I started fishing steelhead at 16, most of my days were unsuccessful but the passion was already there and when I finally landed my first fish my addiction had paid off. When I finally got a hang of it I just wanted more knowledge, you never have enough. But being on the water isn’t just about the fishing for me, just listening to the water washes any stress off me and instantly puts me in extreme relaxation. I love trying new spots, new rivers, new techniques, and I get out on the water as much as possible all year. I was born and raised 10 min from Duluth, and have fished the shore since 2006. If you see me out there come say Hi!!
Matt – Minnesota Steelheader – Field Staff
I was a naïve teenager with absolutely zero experience when I first picked up an 8 wt. Sage DS2 and tried my luck at bottom bouncing a stonefly. Waiting in angst for a steelhead to choose my fly to eat for breakfast I became eternally bored until I hooked my first migratory trout in white foam below a 15′ waterfall. Ever since that moment close to the Canadian border, whether I fought the fish for five seconds or less, I was addicted. What really for lack of a better term “floats my boat” is after so many years now of learning this country, rivers and fish, it’s really something to give it back to the people.
Realizing that fish have tails, and they use them to move all over the river has helped me use my own legs to really explore the North Shore of Lake Superior for myself to chase trout; that is where preparation and luck really meet. The phrase “I’d rather be lucky than skilled” becomes morphed into this world where both skill and luck join together in perfect harmony. And that to me is the epitome of steelhead fishing. It’s a dream I chase and a passion I choose to share with others because I am not only driven to expand my knowledge, I’m also driven by the memories I make every single time I take a step into a beautifully, and glacially cut riverbed. The desire to share what I have experienced with others is insatiable. Whether I am trolling in my boat on the second largest freshwater lake in the world, or fishing it’s gorgeous and cavernous trout tributaries, I am willfully at the demise of what the day has in store for me as long as I’m on the water. I implore you to go exploring to see what the outdoors has in store for you. I am grateful to be apart of a group with a large outreach to help you achieve what I have done, and hopefully get you there in a safe, ethical, and enjoyable manner.
Adam – Minnesota Steelheader – Legacy Director
I grew up in Roseau, MN fishing the beautiful Canadian Shield lake named, Lake of the Woods. Over the last 8 years I’ve fished the rivers of the Northwest and call the torrent streams of the North Shore home.
Chasing Steelhead has become a lifestyle and tremendously rewarding, not only from the fish but from the friends and family I’ve gained along the way. I haven’t found a better way to articulate why I love to fish better than John Voelkner did, so why reinvent the wheel when his prose is perfectly round. “I fish because I love to; because I love the environs where trout are found, which are invariably beautiful, and hate the environs where crowds of people are found, which are invariably ugly; because of the television commercials, cocktail parties and assorted social posturing I thus escape; because, in a world where most men seem to spend their lives doing things they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion; because trout do not lie or cheat but respond only to quietude and humility and endless patience; because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don’t want to waste the trip; because mercifully there are no telephones on trout waters; because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness; because bourbon out of an old tin cup tastes better out there; because maybe someday I will catch a mermaid; and, finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant – and not nearly so much fun.”
Get out there, have fun and hang on!
Do YOU have the drive and passion to become part of the MNST team? If so, reach out to one of our team members or send us an email. We are always interested to learn more about the anglers in our community and their desires and passion to become part of the MNST team of instructors, mentors, writers, photographers, speakers, and fisheries advocates. Contact us today, we would enjoy talking with you.