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Kabetogama fishing guide: Wade Watson

Updated: Feb 10

I just realized that I have been guiding on Kabetogama and the surrounding waters for 1/2 of my life...

Guiding is a passion of teaching, helping others, and a bit of adrenaline in finding walleyes.

Born in Mankato, MN my parents divorced when I was young. My dad's side had family up teaching in Ray, MN and International Falls. My mom's side was down around Mankato. As a kid I came to Kabetogama once or twice at most, but always remember the unique name "Kabetogama" and of course "riding the walleye at the Gateway Store".

Fishing has been a part of my life since I was little. We had a family cabin in northern Wisconsin near the town of Iron River. We built fern forts, caught frogs, had turtle races, and learn to initially row a boat and eventually operate a small boat/motor (6 h.p.). We caught largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish, and northern pike...with a rare walleye once in a while. In college at Duluth (UMD), I answered an ad in our school paper for a resort seeking summer help. That resort was "Watson's Harmony Beach" on beautiful Lake Kabetogama. At the end of the add was a name I recognized- "Tim Watson". Many refer to Tim as my dad or uncle, but in all honesty, Tim is the son of my great uncle "Neal Watson". My grandfather and Neil were brothers, and along with another brother Hugh and sister Eileen these great uncles and aunt were raised on Kabetogama. My great grandfather "Tom Watson" owned and operated one of the first resorts on Lake Kabetogama- "Watson's Lakeview Resort". Still in operation today, it was at the heart of the lake's entrance next door to "Gappa Landing". (click to see map of Lake Kabetogama)

I am proud of the heritage my family has in the area, and I take pride in knowing as much as I can about the early settlers and history that exists in the area. Stories of my great grandfather giving "his first boat ride" to Ojibway chief Woodenfrog make me smile and image those days. Today, we use 300 horse-power motors on 20+ foot boats, moving around miles of waterways to explore and fish these same waters.

As a guide, my goal is to teach you about how to get more fish in your boat. We talk about seasonal patterns, a variety of methods to catch fish, water temperatures, wind direction, structure, and more. Know as much as I love to catch fish, a trip on these waters with me as your guide also focuses on navigating these waters, island names and history, and rules and regulations on these bodies of water. The fishing industry is always changing and fortunately some of the best companies have helped my small guide service. You are welcome to use St. Croix rods, learn about Humminbird depth finders and the new MEGA live imaging. We likely will lose some tackle, but Northland Tackle makes some of the best walleye tackle in the industry and allows me to buy and discounts knowing my guest will fall in love with their products. Simms rain gear is second to none if you are preparing for a trip in our area and want the best rain gear in the industry.

Ever had fresh walleye for "shorelunch", not many guides still do traditional shorelunch in cast iron pans, but I absolutely love it. It is an additional cost, and does take some time away from the boat, but if you are interested it is still the best way to each your catch.

If I'm not fishing...I stay busy, working full time as a critical care paramedic for Lakeview EMS based in Stillwater, MN. Teaching soon to be paramedics at Century College in White Bear Lake is another full/part time job to fill my days. My kids are my pride and joy, and if you're hoping for a fishing trip in early July I likely can't do it because of a birthday fishing tradition that has been happening since they were 4-5 years old. They are both amazing students, great athletes (soccer), good fisherman, and wonderful human beings...

So... a trip on the water with me is about fun, learning the lake & area, as well as finding more ways to put fish in your boat on your vacation, or the next time you are fishing.

I hope to see you on the water!

Wade Watson "Kab Kid"

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