Nice Muskie, Ay?

Had the chance last week to visit the folks at St. Croix Rods in Park Falls, Wisconsin. We were scheduled to fish last Thursday with muskie pro Al Mohr, who also works for the company, the largest made-in-America rod manufacturer. Then we'd enjoy a plant tour on Friday morning with VP of sales and marketing, Jeff Schluter. Schluter and his family have owned St. Croix for 30 years, and the company has been in existence for 60. They build some tremendous fly rods as well as a fantastic selection of spin and plug casting rods for virtually every application. One of our sales staff, Drew Townes, and I enjoyed a two-hour scenic drive through dairy country from Wausau to the Ruffled Grouse capital of the world, Park Falls. It looked like our fishing plans weren't meant to be after a series of typical snafus from Northwest Airlines. (Their motto: You're lucky you even got there.) Mohr is a die-hard. After a brief chat with Schluter, we took off to one of the local lakes to target muskies and northern pike. We had a great couple of hours on the water. I had two muskies try to eat the fly while Townes caught a northern and a muskie on giant plastic baits called "pounders," since they weigh upwards of 16 ounces. The next day we spent several hours touring what has to be one of the most technologically advanced rod-manufacturing facilities in the US. They build more than 200,000 fly, spin and plug rods a year, utilizing advanced materials and processes like their proprietary ART reinforcement technology. A selection of advanced measurement tools, including lasers and analysis machines, are used in the design and manufacturing process. To learn more about St. Croix, visit www.stcroixrods.com. And if you are ever in their neck of the woods, be sure to check out their tackle shop at the front of their factory. Very cool stuff. -Capt. Ted Lund