For thirty-nine years, I’ve been an outdoor communicator and fortunate to have met and spent time with some truly exceptional outdoorsmen and women: guides, outdoor educators, tournament anglers, seminar presenters and radio/television personalities who’s taken their love of the outdoors, made it their vocation and shared their love of it with others, these individuals are our “Legends in the Outdoors.”
If you are from the Watertown, S.D. area, and listen to Team Outdoorsmen Adventures’ Don Fjerstad’s KWAT Outdoors radio show every Thursday, you’ve heard about Chuck Krause, as he’s a regular on Don’s show.
You may have competed against him in fishing tournaments, fished with him on Lake Oahe out of Whitlock Bay near Gettysburg, attended the Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, Omaha and Rapid City Sport Shows where he set up a booth and he’s been a seminar presenter in Mobridge, Aberdeen, and Watertown.
Growing up Chuck Krause didn’t have far to go for outdoor opportunities at his home in Watertown. The Sioux River, Lake Pelican and other glacial lakes were his initial stomping grounds.
Over the last 38 years, Krause guided anglers and hunters, fished tournaments, developed wildlife habitat and been highlighted in numerous regional and national publications, appearing on regional radio and television shows.
Chuck grew up just three blocks from my family home. He is the same age as my younger brother Randy and they were friends.
Back then, I knew him as “Little Chucky Krause.” Years ago, when I first developed my “Of the Outdoors” columns and had a column due on Lake Oahe, when I first contacted him by phone, I asked, “Is this “Little Chucky Krause?” His response was, “Well I used to be.”
Like many of the kids growing up in Watertown, his family, grandfather Herman Sr. and his dad Herman Jr., were into the outdoors.
Chuck Krause got into fishing at an early age.
It made sense that Chuck should follow their example, only he went on to do it in a much larger fashion.
Because he and his friends were not too far from the Big Sioux River and the “Silver Bridge,” they could spend part of day enjoying the outdoors, first, digging their bait, worms, then with a five-gallon bucket hanging from their bikes’ handlebars, peddled to the river to fish for bullheads.
Once they had the bucket full of bullheads, no water, just fish, which took them a good half day, they peddled their bikes downtown and sold the fish, receiving $5 for their troubles. That was darn good money in those days.
Since it was hard to balance a bike with a five gallon bucket hanging from one side of the handlebars, the next time the were out, they took 2 five-gallon buckets, filled them with bullheads, which took most of the day, then peddled downtown and sold them for $10.00. This was the beginning of his hobby turning into a job.
Krause graduated from Watertown High School in 1974. He worked for Stein Sign Company. While installing signs in several states, he was able to visit numerous areas where outdoor opportunities abounded.
In 1981, Krause made the move to Gettysburg, S.D., just a short distance from Lake Oahe. There he guided out of Bob’s Resort from 1981 to 1985.
Nearby Whitlock Bay, is an area where numerous folks from the Watertown area had cabins and trailers. They knew of Chuck’s fishing skills and asked him to take them fishing, helping him to establish his reputation as one of the best Lake Oahe guides.
In 1985, he went on his own, starting “Krause Guide Service,” providing both fishing and goose hunting for his clients.
Over the years, I had the opportunity to enjoy time in his goose pits as well as hunting in Canada’s with Chuck. He leased some excellent hunting land including the Sutton Bay area, owned by Matt Sutton from 1986 to 2002.
Krause still fishes the walleye tournament on Tobin Lake in Saskatchewan. It’s a remarkable fishery, he says, where anglers have an opportunity to catch a 14-plus pound walleye. In this tournament to win big fish for the event, you would have to land a 15-pound or larger pound fish, he says.
Krause spent numerous hours fishing the South Dakota Governor’s Cup Walleye Tournament with Doc John Ward from Watertown.
When not guiding, Chuck fished the Professional Walleye Trail (PWT) tournaments in Mobridge, and on Oahe out of Spring Creek. He also fished the Manufacturer’s Walleye Trail (MWT) tournaments in 1987 to 1993. In 1987, he and his partner Vern Shilhanek, Britain, S.D., took second place in the South Dakota Governor’s Cup and qualified for the National Championship tournament held on Rhinelander Lake in Wisconsin.
This was different from the other tournaments they fished. The competitors couldn’t troll, which is one of the most effective ways to fish for walleyes. They had to either drift or cast to take their fish. Chuck and his partner led the first day of the two-day tournament and finished in sixth place overall.
One of the more exciting things to happen to Krause during the tournament, happened while jig fishing in the middle of the lake. The In-Fisherman film crew was filming his boat.
Krause was landing a two-pound walleye when a 48-inch muskie came up and swallowed the fish. Chuck landed the big fish and the footage was included in the In-Fisherman’s Championship show seen throughout the country.
Krause has also volunteered his guiding services for Veterans’, Make-A-Wish foundations and has introduced 4-H kids groups to the outdoors and fishing.
Krause began offering pheasant hunts on land he leased. He would develop the land for hunting with food plots, grasslands, nesting areas and shelterbelts
In 1986, he purchased the Whitlock Bay Supper Club, which allowed him to provide those he guided and others with breakfast, sack lunches, lunch and supper. They also cooked up the anglers’ catch.
At times, Chuck would have up to 12 guide boats on Lake Oahe. Many of those anglers were repeat Krause Guide Service customers.
Because of the pheasant hunting success on the lands that Krause leased, Sutton Bay Golf Course, later, they offered him a consulting job to manage some of their land for hunting.
He developed a habitat plan for the golf course land, laid out, planted food plots, tree belts and nesting cover and managed those fields in the CRP program.
Not long after that, from 2001 to 2012, Krause became the Hunting and Fishing Manager of this exclusive golf course. He took charge of all the habitat and guided club members, both hunting and fishing.
He had the opportunity to guide celebrities, such as golfer Arnold Palmer, and shooting expert John Sullivan as well as team members of the Minnesota Vikings.
This was the job he enjoyed the most, but it was also one of the hardest.
Then in 1996, I was with Chuck when the phone call came that indicated he and his partners bought 160 acres of ground along the waters on Whitlock Bay.
This land was developed with roads built and electricity installed, creating 82 lots overlooking the bay and the Missouri River. Then, homes built, allowing families to get closer to the outdoors.
When we at Outdoorsmen Adventures television, wanted to film a show near Gettysburg on Lake Oahe, our go to person was Chuck Krause. Several of those shows received the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Television Broadcasting awards.
For most of his adult life, Krause has been on the water and in the field guiding anglers and hunters and sharing his expertise with them.
Krause may no longer be “Little Chucky Krause,” but when it comes to fishing and hunting he has the “Right” stuff and I’m glad to call this “Legend in the Outdoors” my friend.
Gary Howey, Hartington, Neb is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide. An award winning writer, producer, and broadcaster inducted into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame” in 2017. He is the Producer-Co-Host of the Outdoorsmen Adventures television series and Outdoor Adventures radio. If you are looking for more outdoor information, check out garyhoweysoutdoors.com, like Gary Howey’s Facebook or watch his shows on www.MyOutdoorTV.com.