The Year of 500 Fish w/ Nathan Woelfel

Show Notes

In this episode of the Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast, Josh talks with Nathan Woelfel about his new book, The Year of 500 Fish. 

Nathan Woelfel is a serious Wisconsin Sportsman. He does a little bit of everything, from fishing to upland and waterfowl hunting to deer hunting. If you can do it outside in Wisconsin, Nathan is all about it. But somewhere along the way, Nathan's relationship with fishing changed. His new book, The Year of 500 Fish: How I Rekindled my Love for Fishing is collection of short stories about his fishing excursions during the pandemic, what made many fish special, and how his love for fishing was, well, rekindled! In this episode, Josh and Nathan discuss Nathan's book and the journey he was on, fishing tactics, and more! Grab a copy of Nathan's book at the links below!

Nathan's book: 

Nathan's website:

Nathan's Facebook page:

Nathan's Instagram:

Big thanks to our partners!




Show Transcript

Josh Raley: What is going on everyone? Welcome back to another episode of the Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast, which is brought to you by TAC Camp. This is your home for all things outdoors in the Badger State, and I'm your host, Josh Raley. Thank you so much for tuning in again with me this week. In this episode, I'm talking with.

Nathan Wolfel and, uh, I had a chance first to [00:01:00] talk with Nathan back in, I think it was November, like late November, maybe even early, early December, uh, like December 1st or something like that. Uh, I was on his podcast. He has a podcast called Nathan Wolf Outdoors. He also has a website, Nathan wolfel

Uh, I'm gonna put all of that in, uh, in the show notes, so don't worry about trying to figure out how to spell his name or anything like that, but, Uh, I wanted to have Nathan on right now. We, we talked then when I was on his podcast and said, Hey, you know, it'd be great if we could, you know, I'll come on your show.

You come on my show. It'll be awesome. Um, but time got away from us. We kind of, uh, dropped the ball or I at least dropped the ball cause I never extended the invitation. But then, uh, Nathan released a book called The Year of 500 Fish, how I Rekindled My Love of Fishing, and I have not had the opportunity to read that book yet.

I do own the book, however, I bought it on Kendall, uh, on Amazon. There will be a link to the [00:02:00] book. Where you can buy that as well. But, uh, wanted to have Nathan on just to talk about, you know, I mean, man, there's a lot in that title. The year of 500 Fish. What was that like spending this year, you know, really concentrating on fishing, how I rekindled my love of fishing, so like, What happened there?

Where did things go astray? What was this journey like for you? So, uh, he and I get into the book, the ins and outs of it, what he hopes the readers take away from it. Uh, what inspired him to write it, how he kind of, uh, found himself in the middle of writing a book. I mean, it's not something that necessarily everyone wants to do.

And man, it's just a really, really good conversation. I really enjoyed catching up with Nathan. He's just a good dude. He is kind of, uh, in my eyes, kind of the epitome of. Who the, the, the show the Wisconsin Sportsman is, is for, he loves the outdoors. He takes advantage of pretty much every opportunity that he can in Wisconsin.

He's a generalist. He does a little bit of everything, which is, you know, one of the reasons that I wanted to start this podcast because I wanted to enjoy all that [00:03:00] Wisconsin has to offer for sportsmen in Wisconsin, and so,

And I think Nathan epitomizes that, and he was also just a great guest. I think you'll, you'll see in this conversation, it just kind of, it kind of flows. I probably could have talked to him for like another, you know, couple hours, but I had to bring my daughter to a dentist appointment, so I kind of cut things short.

But anyway, it's a great episode. Stick around for that. But before we get to the meat and potatoes, I've got to pay the bills and keep the lights on. And this is when I let you know that this show is brought to you by Tactic Amm. Now. Uh, they're the title sponsor of the show, and I will tell you honestly, if Tica was not a sponsor of the show, I would still be using their products.

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Now, all of that is outta the way. I'm gonna get upstairs and cook some dinner for these hungry kids. Thank you so much again for tuning in this week. I really, really do appreciate it. Enjoy the show with Nathan Wolfel. All right. Joining me for this week's episode of the podcast is Nathan Wolfel from Wisconsin.

Nathan, what's going on man?

Nathan Woelfel: Hey, not much Josh. Thanks so much for having me. I'm just, I'm just pumped to be here talking to you again. It's been a minute, man. It has

Josh Raley: been a minute. Gosh, when we, when we first got on, I asked, I was like, how long's it been? And then I realized you have a six month old at this point, [00:08:00] so it's like, it's been a long

Nathan Woelfel: time.

A six month old that I did not have the last time we talked.

Josh Raley: Yeah. Yeah. That you did not have, it's not like you had a three month old and now you have a six month old. It's that you have a kid, period. Yes. And you did not last time. So that, yes man, that was, um, that was a little bit eyeopening I think.

Gosh, was it, was it like late in November?

Nathan Woelfel: Yeah. Cuz we talked, um, we talked on my show, um, late season bull hunting and um That's right. I think it was either, uh, It was either right before or right after gun deer season here in Wisconsin. Yeah, that's right. So yeah, it was November.

Josh Raley: That's right, that's right.

I think it, I think it was right either at towards the end or at the end of, of Wisconsin's gun season. Uh, and we talked about the deer that I was able to take there and Yeah. Yeah, man. So it's been way too long. We talked about in that show, we were like, all right, let's get you on the Wisconsin sportsman.

This will be awesome. And then we didn't. And so, uh, but now, Fresh opportunity [00:09:00] to have you on because you recently wrote a book, and I want to get to the book. We're gonna talk about the book, but before we do, let's give the listeners kind of a, a quick rundown of who you are, what you do. Um, you know, a lot of times we call these like the hunter profile or the fisherman's profile or something like that.

Just like, who are you, where are you from, what do you do and, and what do you like to do in the outdoors?

Nathan Woelfel: So I born and raised in Wisconsin. Lived here my whole life over three decades now. I'm getting old. Um, love fishing, love hunting. I was fortunate enough to be like so many people who are still into the outdoors.

My family got me into it. My dad got me into it, my grandpa's got me into it. Um, and I'm so grateful for that because that's just how I enjoy spending my free time, um, full-time. I work in marketing. That's my day gig. Um, I enjoy it very much, but. My true passion lies in the outdoors and, uh, hunting and fishing and birding and anything outdoors.

I mean, I always joke with my wife, I'm not super into hiking, but if you [00:10:00] give me a dog and a gun and call it pheasant hunting, I'm, I'm all about it. Um, but I, I just enjoy being outside. It's where I find balance in my life. It's where I find a lot of fulfillment and enjoyment and, um, I, I do, uh, Article at the end of the year, every year on my website, um, my Outdoors Adventures by the Numbers.

And I think last year I spent over 400 hours in the outdoors between either fishing or hunting. And it's just, that is what I want to do with my free time. It is where I want to be and it's a place that I'm very eager to share with others. And that's, I mean, I, I've tried, I've tried most things. I've been given the opportunity to try in the outdoors if only once, but yeah, huge into fishing and hunting, um, deer hunting, waterfall hunting.

Um, I prefer open water fishing to ice fishing, but ice fishing is growing on me. Um, I just love being outside, I guess is the simplest

Josh Raley: way to put it. Yeah, man. And hearing your passion, I think that's one of the reasons, you know, last time we talked it was like, man, we kind of just hit it off and it was like, Old buddies [00:11:00] talking, and I'd never met you before in my life.

And so, uh, I, I, I think that's just one of, it's, it's contagious and it like wakes up something in me that it's like, man, that, that's me too. Like, that's where I come alive. That's where I find fulfillment. And, um, yeah, just, just really good stuff. And so, uh, you do a little bit of everything. So you do waterfowl, you do upland, you do fishing, you do deer hunting, like.

Is there anything you don't do? Is there any, is there, is there an outdoor pursuit in Wisconsin that you just step back and scratch your head about?

Nathan Woelfel: I wouldn't say there are many, if any I scratched my head about, but there are definitely some I haven't pursued yet. Haven't been on a bear hunt yet. Um, okay.

I have my preference points to make that happen, but I haven't done it. My dad actually, who got me into hunting, went on his very first bear hunt this past year, um, and hearing his stories and just like, This is how, like, I don't wanna say protected. I am because I have a lot of, I've had a ton of outdoors experiences.

I'd like to think [00:12:00] more than the average person, but I don't get the chance to see a bear in the wild period very often where I live here in southeastern Wisconsin. So even just having the opportunity to, to, to do that is interesting to me. Um, But there's nothing I really like, scratch my head on and go like, why would someone do that?

That I, I try to be pretty open-minded because that's how I've grown and learned in the outdoors too, by trying things that maybe seem either odd or crazy or not that fun. And a lot of those experiences end up being something that I just, I get hooked on. I get, I get addicted to. I mean, even something as simple as, um, dip netting.

I don't know how many of your listeners were lucky enough to be raised by someone who did that, but like for smelt, they're for suckers. I will stand on a bridge on a spring night all night long and just pull up nets full of fish, which on the surface does not seem very exciting, but when you get into 'em, it is a boatload of fun and it's like because of very simple things like that and the joy they can bring, I try really hard to not say [00:13:00] no to any outdoor experience that I'm given the chance to enjoy.

Josh Raley: Yeah, man. Getting into getting into a, a little bit of everything, which is, which is fantastic. I mean, it's, it's guys like you that this podcast was created for, right? I mean, it was, when I first moved to Wisconsin and I looked around at all the opportunities that, that we had, I was like, this is mind blowing to me.

Like I, I couldn't believe the sheer number of opportunities that just the everyday guy has in Wisconsin, you know, coming from the deep south where it's like, You've got some deer and you've that deer hunting that's not very good. And you've got a couple of turkeys and that's about it. You know, the quail populations are gone.

There are no pheasants, nothing cool like that. Uh, duck hunting, not very great. Um, so yeah, so moving to Wisconsin just, just totally blew my mind and, and, and kind of woke me up to that. Um, man, talk to me a little bit about, The other pursuits that you have. I mean, you've got a website, you've got a podcast, you've got all kinds of stuff going.

So, um, you know, [00:14:00] tell me a little bit more about where you're recording some of your, uh, some of your outdoor pursuits. Um,

Nathan Woelfel: So I, it, it means a lot to me that you called out and I'm glad it's evident my passion for the outdoors because it on so many levels, the outdoors means so much to me. And by extension, Wisconsin means so much to me because we are very fortunate to live here.

Yes, the opportunity, the opportunity level is incredible. The amount of public land, the amount of fishable, water, all of these things are just late. It, it is a, it's just a plethora of riches, right? So I, I wanted to take that passion because I'm a huge believer, and this is a huge principle I have for myself, enjoying the natural resources that our state has to offer.

It's a two-way street. You can't just take, take, take all the time. You have to give at some point. And how do you want to give And giving can take on so many. So many appearances. You can volunteer through [00:15:00] many of the opportunities for citizen science or things like that. You can, you can donate financially to people and organizations that take care of and are stewards of our natural resources.

That's always an option too, and one of, and I try to do a little of both of those things, but then the other way I felt I could give back is by sharing the outdoors excite me a lot and I want, there are so many intricate cool little things about the outdoors that I would like to think. The average person, even if they're not an outdoors enthusiast, can appreciate, for instance, I mean, a random thing I shared on my Facebook page the other day is that, um, fireflies are the most efficient source of light in the world.

And there's over 2000 kinds of them. One, almost 100% of the energy of Firefly creates turns into visible light that humans can see. We don't make things like that, but nature does and I think that's incredibly cool. And being able to share things like that with other people who may not be as [00:16:00] centered around the outdoors as I am.

It, it, it's something, it's my way of giving back, I guess. And so I do that through my, my website, nathan wolfel I try to do that through social media to connect with people and through one-on-one experiences. Take someone hunting who just, who maybe doesn't even have a license, but wants to sit there and see what it's about.

Bring 'em along, especially if it's duck hunting. Sit in the blind and shoot the bull with us. That's fine. Like, see what it's about. See if this interests you. Bring a kid fishing, you know, and, and, and try to give them a good experience, a positive experience with the outdoors. So this is kind of my, my method of giving back in a way that hopefully makes people think, but also shows them, especially where we live, there are so many opportunities for fulfillment and happiness in our state.

Why would you not pursue them? And for a lot of people it's because they simply didn't know. Yeah. And I'm trying to do my best to, to not have that be an excuse anymore. Yeah, man. That's

Josh Raley: good. That's really good. So tell me about this book then [00:17:00] that, uh, that you've written. Like, uh, what, what made you decide to write it?

Nathan Woelfel: So I have been, I hate using the term professional writer because it sounds so hoity-toity, um, and like so formalized and like, just not how I view myself as a person, but I've been, for lack of a better phrase, I've been receiving money to write in a bunch of different formats about a bunch of different things for 14 years now.

Okay. And I think that if you do that long enough, I. Every old Tom, Dick and Harry, who is in that part of the world, wants to write a book at some point. And I, part of it for me was that I've always wanted to do it in a world that is, you know, and we talked a lot off air about, about the social media age and the world we live in right now, where everything is so temporary, everything is so instant, and everything fades faster than, you know, faster than you can think.

I wanted something a [00:18:00] little more permanent and I wanted something that I could point to, that I could be proud of. I wanted something that shared my experiences about the outdoors, and I wanted something that would hopefully be able to spark even the tiniest bit of interest in someone else. And I know we'll probably get into this in a little bit, but how this book came about, you know, I, I have, and I make this clear in the book, I never stopped fishing.

I fished my whole life. It has never gone away. But you grow into adulthood, life changes, different responsibilities, different things going on, different things, asking for your attention. Fishing didn't have the place in my life that it needed to have in order for me to feel like I was my best self. Hmm.

And the pandemic and the world kind of coming to a halt for a little while really changed that for me. And man, I see how I look back on the last two and a half, three years of how my life has grown since then. And I feel my life is a lot more balanced now because [00:19:00] of the, the rekindling of my love of fishing and the outdoors in general than it would've been several years back.

And that's just a good feeling. Yeah. And

Josh Raley: that, so that's the title of the book. I guess we haven't mentioned it yet. It's called The Year of 500 Fish, how I Rekindled My Love. Of fishing. And that was gonna be one of my big questions. Like when I hear how I rekindled my love, I, my first thought is like, what, what happened to it?

Like, where did it go? And, you know, I went through a time in my life where hunting and I, I think a lot of us do, especially as we get into those, uh, college years and that kind of thing. Hunting in that sort of the outdoors, it just kind of gets put on the back burner. There's a lot of other things that we're concerned about, especially as young men that we definitely shouldn't be, but we're off pursuing every other thing besides the outdoors.

And, uh, for me, I know when I kind of returned to my senses after a, a time of just being a wild child in my college years when I returned to my senses. That's when I realized that like, the [00:20:00] way that I was living, the very first thing that it took from me was my, my love for the outdoors and the, and the time that I spent there.

But it was also one of the things that I very quickly, uh, picked back up and sort of where I found healing and wholeness and fulfillment and joy and happiness again. So tell me about your journey, man. How, how you, um, maybe got distracted and then, you know, the, the, the, the idea for the title. How I rekindled my love for fishing?

Like did you, did you set out to rekindle the love or did you wake up one day and be like, oh my goodness, this is happening?

Nathan Woelfel: Well, to answer the, the last part of your question first, um, that was not an intentional thing. Um, it, looking back, it should have been. Um, but it wasn't. And it was, it was more. And it's interesting cuz I could not agree anymore with everything you just said about what the outdoors brings to you and your life.

That is, that's very much a reflection of how I feel and when the world was at, its [00:21:00] craziest, at least in my lifetime, probably yours as well. Mm-hmm. I made note of the fact it was interesting. Look at where everyone, not everyone, but look at where a high number of people gravitated toward. And it was the outdoors.

I mean, you saw, you could see it in numbers of that hunting license. Sales were up in many states higher than they'd been in a very long time. Not like highest ever levels, but much higher state parks had to limit the amount of people here that could come in because so many people wanted to enjoy time.

Outside sales of fishing equipment were up, fishing, license sales were up. Everyone went back to the outdoors and I decided that it was, I mean, I looked at my garage full of fishing stuff and it's like I don't have a huge list of things. Vying for my attention today that maybe as I started transitioning into my adult life would've been top of my mind.

A lot of those things were gone, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Looking back on it, it was a great thing. One of the best things that ever happened to me, honestly, it's like pick up that fishing rod, like, go be [00:22:00] outside. Stop going nuts in the four walls of your house. Go do something. Hear the bird saying, get some fresh air, maybe catch a fish or two, just be somewhere else doing something else, thinking about something else.

And that's kind of how that whole thing started. And, you know, to tie all this together with your thoughts too, um, I had Joel Bryce from Delta Waterfall on my podcast, and I'm, I'm stealing this thought from him, but I've modified it to make it my own. He had this big belief that if you were here today somewhere and your lineage was a hunter, That's just how it works.

The people who are still here are the product of successful hunters, even if it was a very long time ago. Yeah. And his belief is that being able to scratch that itch, fulfill that deeper sense of why you're here, that thing that is hardwired in your brain, whether you realize you have it or not, is super important to feeling fulfilled, to feeling like your complete self.

And I, I would add fishing on top of that too. Hunter gatherer angler. If we're all the [00:23:00] product of that and there is just something, right, something that makes you feel whole about being back in that again. And that's something I really experienced during the pandemic and that's, I I, I didn't set out with the goal of writing a book.

I didn't set out with the goal of, of saying I'm for sure gonna get more into fishing. But it happened, it happened pretty organically. Both of those things did because I found, I found that sense of peace. I found everything we've just talked about. I. They're, and available and waiting for me. And upon a little bit of reflection, it's like it would be foolish to not have this be part of my life as often as I can make that happen.

And that's why I very intentionally for, I very intentionally chose the word rekindled. I. That flame was still burning. And if you follow Joel's line of thinking, that flame is always there, whether you feed it or not. But what happened was, and I realized over the course of that year of 2020, I fed that fire for the first time in a really long time, and it was just interesting.

How many cool experiences and how much joy was just [00:24:00] sitting out there ready to be taken. And it's all about stoking that fire and keeping that flame alive. And I'd say from that point forward, it's about letting it burn as much as you possibly can.

Josh Raley: Yeah, I, I think that, um, this is why I asked the question.

I didn't know what your answer was going to be, but I had a feeling that you were gonna say, no, I didn't start out to do this. I didn't set out to do this. It's just something that happened. And, and I wanted to, to bring that to the forefront, just to, to say, and to point out like, That's how profound an impact the outdoors will have on you if you just give it the time, right?

Like you, you don't set out to rekindle your love or anything like that. You just pick up a pole and go fishing and the next thing you know, you've written a book about it. So, uh, and not that that'll happen to everybody, but, uh, no, no, but, but the impact will be profound on everyone I believe. I strongly, I do too strongly believe that.

So tell me a little bit about the book. What, what can readers expect? So I just picked up the Kindle version on Amazon. [00:25:00] Um, so what, what can readers expect?

Nathan Woelfel: Well, it's a collection of short stories and it's very intentional, just kind of how the format of the book, how I wanted it to be. It's a collection of short stories.

And I guess I should tie, I should explain the 500 number. Um, I decided I'm a geeky person. I like my spreadsheets. I like my hunting log. I like, I have a fishing log and I decided if I was gonna spend so much time pursuing this, I. I wanted to know what I was getting out of it. So I kept a Phish fishing journal successfully for the first time after many attempts in the year of 2020.

And I ended up catching over 500 Phish that year. And which for me, I mean, as best as I, as best as I know, is probably a personal best or very close to at, at that time, um, I'd wanted to highlight. There were so many cool moments in that fishing season, and it's funny, and I reflect a little bit about this in the end of the book, and I don't want to give it all [00:26:00] away, but I have had, every year, since that year, I've caught far more than 500 fish.

I don't know that I have a season though. That has as many cool stories as that one did, and part of the reason is that there is so much joy in rediscovering something, again, something that meant a lot to you and maybe still does, and reminding yourself of that, that when you view a whole bunch of experiences through that lens, it's amazing how beautiful the stories are, how memorable they are, and how much more appreciative you are.

Of those stories than you maybe would've been at some other point. So the book is a collection of short stories of the more memorable fish or fishing experiences or weekends. And every chapter breaks down either one, particularly memorable fish or a particularly memorable weekend or trip somewhere, or a very notable experience that occurred during that season.

Um, it's a pretty fast read. Um, and the beauty of it too is that. Since the stories, each individual story [00:27:00] story is only loosely connected. You can read a chapter, go fishing with me for a night, decide to pick the book up, back up again in a week or two and just go fishing with me again. You don't have to commit all that stuff to memory.

It's just individual stories that kind of stand on their own that hopefully get you excited about. You know, picking up a fish and run or spending some time outside and maybe you haven't recently. I'm a huge believer that, and I've hunting has taught me this more than anything, but I think it's absolutely applicable to fishing.

I. Mother Nature always provides, you just have to give her the chance to do it. Um, I've never regretted seeing a sunrise, even if the hunt was terrible. Um, I, some of my most memorable fishing and hunting trips had nothing to do with the success rate and everything to do with something cool. I got to witness that I never would've witnessed or thought about or appreciated if I hadn't put myself in the position to do it.

And there's a little bit of that sprinkled in the book as well that. It's just amazing. Some of the things you'll come across too, [00:28:00] when you just give yourself some time to be outside and just be part of earth. Mm.

Josh Raley: Tell me a little bit about, uh, what would be your, without giving away too much, right. I mean's a book.

We want people, everybody go buy the book right now before, before we finish the podcast, just go buy the book. Pick it up on Amazon, it's easy. Uh, can you get it on your website too?

Nathan Woelfel: Um, there are two articles on my website, one for the, um, that are on the homepage and one will lead you to the link. Um, Well, actually the second one I posted relatively recently will lead you to the link on Amazon to buy both books.

Um, that's the easiest way to get your hands on 'em. Uh, they ship 'em to you quickly. Um, they'll send 'em right to whatever location you want. Uh, even if you wanted to send it as a gift, you can send it straight to that person. Um, but yeah, you can find that information on my website as

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As we're thinking through the book, then, is there a part of the book or maybe one individual story that stands out [00:30:00] as kind of like. The highlight or the crowning moment of the book. And you don't have to tell us how the story goes or how it turned out, but, but maybe just a little bit to kind of pique our interest to maybe draw us to, uh, maybe pick up a, a book and read it when, um, a lot of us might just not be big readers.

Nathan Woelfel: Yeah, there's a, there's a couple and for different reasons, um, One is a story about, uh, me catching my personal best small mouth bass, which in the grand scheme of fishing lore, I mean, it's a big fish, don't get me wrong. And, and like I would be happy to catch that fish time and time again. I've only repeated this feat of catching a fish of this stature once since I wrote the book, even with my increased amount of time on the water.

Um, but the reason it was special, I was fishing in my childhood spot. I grew up fishing, and it's where I spent my summers. I have caught thousands of fish in the spot. I have [00:31:00] never caught one that would even lead me to believe that a fish that size lived there. Wow. And I haven't repeated the feet on that stretch of water since.

And I, I viewed it as, and I even mentioned this in the story to me, it was just this most beautiful gift. From my hometown, from the place that raised me, from the place that I learned to fish. And not everyone gets a story like that, that I think any fishing success is a product of things you've learned along the way.

Um, but not everyone gets that serendipitous ending of it all comes full circle. And here is I. Very memorable fish in a very memorable spot, at a very memorable point of your life. And, and that, that, that fish to this day means a lot to me. It always will. I, I don't know that I will catch very many that ever will again.

Um, another story I'd, I'd, I'd highlight is, um, I [00:32:00] caught my, this is, it's just amazing what happens in your life when you reprioritize things, or in this case are forced to reprioritize things. We talked earlier about how lucky we are to live here and in my part of the state. One thing that I am very fortunate to have is two major tributaries to Lake Michigan in the county I live in.

Um, you could argue three. I'd say there's only two major ones, but I had never really fished the fall salmon run that often. That's stupid. I've never missed it ever again. I fished it in 2020 and I caught my first, uh, my first, uh, spawning king, and it was just incredible. And I, I just, I can't believe it took me that long to do that.

And part of the reason it was interesting without ruining the twist. That was a classic exercise in not knowing what you don't know, because I caught that fish and I felt like Superman and I thought that I did everything right. And then I went on a trip with a guide the following spring fishing steelhead in the river, and he explained to me how I was very wrong [00:33:00] and about some things I needed to think about and he didn't scold me.

He was very warm. He was very informative and just said, Hey, just so you know. Well, there's nothing by the book wrong with what you did. It's legal. It's fine. People do it all the time. Just know that people like me. Who, this is almost exclusively what we do. We view the situation you were in this way. Have you ever thought about it that way?

And I said, no. And he explained why he felt about it that way. I have never looked at fishing salmon the same way ever again. And I wanna be clear, I'm not out there snagging him with treble hooks in a two pound weight. I caught the fish legally, I liphook him. Oh, and actually the first one I, the first one I caught on the run was a her.

Um, but, It's, it's, it's always being open to those teachable moments. And it's a teachable moment that I never would've had unless I had gotten into, into fishing to the level that I am today. And I'm so happy I have that information cuz now I can share it with other [00:34:00] people and I can have a better understanding of the kind of outdoorsman I want to be and the kind of person I want to be.

And that was huge for me. And then the final one I'll highlight is actually, it's a story toward the tail end of the book. It's actually a story about misfortune. Hmm. Um, part of it, and this is more apparent in hunting, but it definitely happens in fishing as well. It's the whole, it's the whole mantra of the arena of consequence and that you have to understand that anytime you are tangling with a living thing, sometimes things might not go the way you want.

And that's something that it, you can do everything in your power to keep that from happening. If you're at it long enough, whether it's hunting or fishing, something along those lines will happen. And it's about the story. The tail end of the story is really about how you respond, how you learn, and how you grow.

And. It's definitely not the happiest story in the book, but it's an important one [00:35:00] because you have to understand how the reality of inserting yourself into our natural resources can sometimes work even when you have the best of intentions. And, um, just it, that's a big life lesson too. That sometimes things don't go the way you thought, even though you took a lot of precautions that they wouldn't go that way.

And, and it's all about how you learn from it. You know? Unfortunate things happen sometimes, and the key is minimizing them and learning from them when they do happen. So I'd say those are the three I'd highlight.

Josh Raley: Wow. So what. Throughout this process. I mean, it's uh, it's labor intensive. And when I say this process, I mean not only the fishing that you did, but then later compiling the stories and putting the, the book together.

Is there anything that surprised you, anything that caught you off guard? Anything that you were like, wow, I didn't expect this to have that impact on me, or for thi for me to feel this way about this thing or, you know, to want to give up on the project altogether or whatever. Did anything surprise you along the way?

Nathan Woelfel: I think in terms of the [00:36:00] stories themselves, man, that's a, that's a great question. I think in terms of the stories themselves, what surprised me was the sheer volume of stories There were after, I mean, I really only fished hard starting in May of that year. Man, I'd, I'd thrown away a third of the year at that point, and I started writing the book.

In November of that year, so then you can take December off the table. There are no December fish in that book. Um, though there were December fish caught. There were no December fish in that book. So we're talking in the span of about six months. It was incredible to me to look back at the end and say, this is what the outdoors gave to me, just through the lens of fishing in six months, in six months.

And, and the volume of that was just like, Staggering to me because the cool thing about this book, in my opinion, for me selfishly as the author, those are all memories that [00:37:00] I got I get to have forever. And I wanna share those cuz I think they are memorable. But, and I'd like to think I did a good job of bringing the readers right into the thick of the action.

But at the end of the day, no matter how, how well executed that story is, I was the only one who got to live that. And that means a lot to me. So, I, I have that. Those are memories I will forever have. And I, I think that was surprising to me how much, when you look at the body of work and you see it all in one place, it's like, this was six months and it's really kind of, it, it, it fuels my fire to keep living that way because I want more of that in my life.

From a writing process standpoint or a publishing process standpoint. That was a classic exercise in not knowing what you don't know, cuz you, Josh and your listeners may have noticed. I have mentioned several times the book was, at least the first draft of the book was written in 2020. You and I are having a conversation about this book that just came out in mid 2023.

Um, [00:38:00] I had no idea what I was getting into. I, I knew I wanted to write a book. I knew I had the content for a book. I had no idea what anything from there on out looked like. What the editing process looks like, what the publishing process looks like, what the, you know, cover art illustration process looks like.

And that's where I've, and I, I joked with my editor a couple weeks ago. This process has taught me I very much love writing. I still have loads to learn about, pretty much everything else. The fishing was fun. The writing was fun. Having to stagger my way through the process of getting these stories into a format that I could share with all of you was the part I knew nothing about.

Yeah. And I definitely know a lot more now, um, but I wish I would've known a lot of it back then.

Josh Raley: Wow, man. I, that's really, really good. So, uh, wrapping up, I mean, we, we wanted to, to hit on the book, but we also wanna get to some other things. So wrapping up the conversation about the book, what's one thing that you hope [00:39:00] that readers.

Pick up if they grab this book and give it a read. What's one thing that you're like, man, I, I really hope you take this away from this work.

Nathan Woelfel: I hope this may seem like a selfish answer, but it, I'd like maybe I'm just justifying it. I would like to think it has an unselfish end. I hope my passion for fishing comes through.

So it makes the reader wonder about theirs. Whether you fish every weekend, whether you fish every day, whether you haven't fished in five years. I hope by the end you are at least asking yourself the question. Is there anything even remotely like this in it for me? Because I would tell you right now the answer's yes.

Yes it is. It might look different, it might play out different. There might be variables to it. But if my passion comes through, and I hope it does, I hope that a reader would take away that there's the ability, they have the ability [00:40:00] to pursue something that could give them even one story, like the stories in that book, because I truly believe that that's, if you're willing to put in the time and learn, those stories are out there ready to be written for anyone.

I truly believe that. Wow,

Josh Raley: man. That's really, really good. That's really, really good. Thanks for sharing that. Um, oh, of course. Let's, let's shift gears then a little bit. And I wanna know, just when it comes to fishing in general, I, I'm a guy that tends to get, like, laser focused on one thing. So if I've got, um, Let's say I'm going fishing.

I will get laser focused on like, I'm going after this specific species and I'm gonna fish in this specific way, which can be really fun, but can also lead to a ton of frustration. So I'm curious to know what is your favorite thing to fish for? Or are you more of a generalist when it's like, man, I'm going out there and I'm just gonna see what happens?

Nathan Woelfel: Well, I consider myself. I consider myself a [00:41:00] multi-species angler. Um, and something I should insert here, maybe it'll ruin my credibility, maybe it will raise my credibility to a large extent. I don't know. This could go either way, but I, I, I want to be transparent about this. I, so, like last year, I caught over a thousand fish, had a great time, hundreds of hours on the water.

I do not own a bolt. I don't, I know people who do. My dad owns a boat. I spend time on both. I fish on both. I don't have one. And I think that's part of the beauty of, of fishing, in my opinion, is that. If you are not really actively into the outdoors right now, I understand there are many barriers to entry in any kind of outdoor activity in the world we live in.

Like the list is insanely long, but I think fishing is one of the most, most approachable of your options. Mm-hmm. If you're brand new to this, and that's something I love and I think that's why I always, I try to not take that for granted, which is why I am mostly an opportunist. That is why I am mostly a multi-species angler, because that's part of the beauty of it.

If you've got flowing water and a and a. Pole [00:42:00] in your hand, you've got the chance to catch something. Yeah. But I will say I kind of teeter in the middle. I go through phases. Right now, I'm very much in my large mouth phase. That's what I've been doing. That's what I've been targeting. I'm having a lot of fun doing it.

It's what I'm thinking about currently. But then, and this is where I'm a huge believer in keeping a fishing log. I can go back historically for now the last two and a half years and say, you know, I wanna go fishing tonight. This time last year, this time, two years ago, this time, three years ago, what was I fishing for?

And was the fishing any good? And what did I learn from that experience? And so I try to be opportunistic that it's like if I'm just a blank slate, my mind's not laser focused on something. I'll kind of look through and say like, what's the best opportunity to go catch fish today? And I'll try to pursue that.

But then what'll happen is, um, I'll read an article on some species I've never chased before. My buddy will be hammering something, I haven't been fishing, and all of a sudden I get that laser [00:43:00] focus for a week or two. I get my fill of whatever that species in and I'm is, and I move on to something else.

Um, so I am kind of in the middle. Um, I'm definitely, I'm an opportunist, I'd put it that way. Yeah.

Josh Raley: Yeah. I feel like it's a lot. I feel like it's tougher to be an opportunist in freshwater than it is, uh, sort of how I grew up. I grew up saltwater fishing, and we would go out and you put something that's alive.

I mean, live bait is like the end all, be all of saltwater fishing. Um, you know, we'd put a shrimp or some kind of mullet or other fish on a hook. And you either drop it down to the bottom or you cast it out from the back of the boat and kind of let it sit top or midway in the water column and something bigger is gonna come along and eat it.

And who knows what it is. It's always just kind of, you know, Russian roulette. Like who knows what's gonna bite. I feel like it's a little tougher to be a, a generalist in freshwater just because of the environments are so unique where you're catching them. Like you're not gonna go, uh, fishing [00:44:00] for large mouth in a, uh, You know, a, a stream in southwestern Wisconsin, cuz you're right.

Probably not gonna run into it. You know what I mean? Like, it's just, I, I don't know, I don't know. It seems a little bit harder to put yourself, um, in that sort of generalist category, but I know it can be done. I mean, I see guys like you who, uh, go in and tear it up. So, um, do you have like, Plans for fishing for the rest of the year, or is this like, are you just flying by the seat of your pants, just like, you know what, whatever comes, comes, I, I fish when I feel like it.

Or are you the kind who's like, Hey, I'm, I'm planning these trips out. Like I got, I got stuff in the works.

Nathan Woelfel: I got a couple trips planned, but I, generally speaking, um, I'm also an opportunist, uh, an opportunist with just my fishing. Uh, Trips as well, or even my, my outings here around town. Well, with a six month old of course you are, the goal is to fish as much as possible.

Josh Raley: Yeah. With a six month old, you have to be, uh, yeah. You know,

Nathan Woelfel: I've gotten real [00:45:00] good at night fishing, um, which is not something I've spent a lot of time doing, but it's like, well, if it's night fishing or nothing, I guess we're gonna get good at this. Um, but I will say that, um, in terms of like trips I've got planned, I'm actually, I.

In a couple days, um, my wife and our baby were going up north to meet up with my parents up in Viles County and we're gonna fish, uh, uh, north and South Twin. Really looking forward to that. Haven't been up there in a couple years and looking forward to that and we'll get plenty of fishing in in that timeframe.

Um, seeing a buddy of mine out in Minnesota to fish an excellent Bass Lake, I fished with him a couple years ago. That I'm, I'm really, really looking forward to. And then he's actually coming back to town with me after that trip and we're taking a guided trip on the river this fall, um, to, he's never caught a king salmon.

So we're gonna try to make that happen for him. And we're gonna fish the salmon run with a guide that I really love and respect and. I think is going, I know is going to give us a good and educational experience and, and put us on some fish. So those are, those are kind of the big ones. But yeah, other than that, it's just [00:46:00] getting out as often as I can and giving myself, you know, sprinkling in an experience of, of trying new things.

Um, but also just making sure that I'm giving myself the time to have those moments, those quiet moments in the outdoors to. To just enjoy it and to appreciate it and, uh, understand how lucky I am. Sure.

Josh Raley: So before we started talking, we, uh, we mentioned getting into some high level fishing stuff and, um, man, the conversation has been great.

We got a lot more into the book than, um, than I thought. I'm super glad that we did. I'm glad that we dug in like we did. Uh, give people a little bit of a feel for the book. Um, not only a feel for the book though, but just an understanding of what drove you to write it, which I think is, is probably the more important thing.

Um, if somebody said, all right, Nathan, give me your top three tips for catching more fish. I'm a generalist. I'm gonna go out when I have time. I want to [00:47:00] catch 500 fish this year. Give me three tips for catching more.

Nathan Woelfel: I can absolutely do that. I, cuz I spend probably way more time than I should thinking about things like this.

The first one, and it seems obvious, I, I, I think most of these will seem obvious, but the problem is if it happened all the time, we'd all be catching hundreds if not thousands of fish a year. And I, it just doesn't happen. And I wasn't this person for a very long time either, to be very honest. The first thing is to learn.

That's the first thing in anything in life, if you think about it, if you wanna get good at something, you have to learn and your mind has to be in a place where it is willing to learn and retain information every single time. I mean, another thing that has a a, a perfect intersection with hunting, every time you are on the water, you are being given information one way or the other.

It's understanding that you are being gifted that information and then doing something with it. Um, That's part of the reason I keep a phishing log is so I don't have to remember all of it. I have it written down and can remind [00:48:00] myself of it, but this is one of the biggest mistakes I made for a very long time, and I still see lots of people make, I mean, I still make it myself on occasion.

Yes, it's frustrating when you are. Let's say you're out on the boat, you're, you're fishing bass, you're fishing muskies, whatever, or you're bank fishing. You get there and there's other people and it's like, man, like you're kind of frustrated cuz it's like, I don't have the freedom to completely do what I want, or like, I'm gonna have to fish in a slightly different spot than I wanted to.

And you spend all this time grumbling to yourself. I, I still grumble to myself more than I should about things like that. Yeah. That's free information. Those people are fishing even if they are in the exact spot you wanted to be cool. They're telling you how the fishing is right now. You have to open your eyes and pay attention, and you can learn a lot just by observing.

And if you feel like the opportunity is appropriate, you can go have a conversation with them too. I love a good fishing conversation with a fellow angler. You know, I had one last night, but it's being able to take in that [00:49:00] information that's being gifted to you in a subtle way. That angler's not gonna come over and tell you exactly what they're biting on.

But if you're paying attention, you can kind of do the math yourself. You can learn a thing or two. And I, I've benefited from that greatly, uh, since I've, I've tried to be more open-minded about it. And part of it is, another tip I'd give is, it is an extension of the learning is to really think then about how you apply that information.

Um, Perfect example. Last night I told my wife at probably noon, one o'clock, the forecast is calling for thunderstorms. Rolling in here around seven or eight. And we have a spot nearby, a large mouth spot that is just electric, right? Right before a storm. And I said if it works in our schedule with the little guy, I really want to be fishing in this specific window and that I will be watching radar.

It will be somewhere in this window probably. I don't know exactly when it's gonna be, and I won't be gone for long. I just [00:50:00] know if I get to fish today, if I could handpick that time. That's when I want to be there. And she said, yeah, that'll work out. That's fine. And my wife is, I shouldn't mention on the record, is unbelievably supportive of my outdoors endeavors, and that certainly helps.

I went out there, probably cut her. I was sitting in my driveway being indecisive as the storms were rolling in about what I wanted to put on. And so I didn't give myself a whole ton of time. I got there, it started raining probably on my second cast. Not storming yet, but the rain was there and I was like, man, I cut this too close.

There's people dining on a patio restaurant near me who are all taking cover, wondering why on earth I'm still standing there. Two casts later, I'm hooked up with a large mouth. Two more casts later. I got another one. I, I, I, I worked through the rain that entire time until the storms forced me to leave and there were active fish in almost every spot that I hit.

And the size wasn't quite what I want it to be. I mean, I'm getting a little pickier now that I catch more of them, [00:51:00] but point being that was information I have historically had that I paid enough attention to, to learn and then I applied it in a situation. You don't need all the time in the world. The fish, if you know when the right time is, time is something we are all pressed for.

I mean, I feel that time crunch now with a newborn more than I. More than I ever have. But thankfully, because I've done step one, which was learn, I can do step two, which is apply. And I don't need three hours to go catch a bunch of fish. I need 45 minutes in the right bait at the right time. And it doesn't mean it's gonna work like that a hundred percent of the time, but in my experience, more often than not, the bigger your records get, they really stop lying to you.

And that kind of is what the situation is. And then I'd say the final tip, the final tip would be the, and I guess this is kind of into applying, is it's in the details. I wrote an article about this, it's on my website as a matter of fact. Um, and it's titled, it's in the [00:52:00] Details. Sometimes it's details are a tricky thing in fishing as well as hunting.

It's knowing when the details matter and when they don't. Yeah. And it's also knowing which details matter. And which ones don't. Sometimes five feet makes all the difference. Sometimes five feet are the least of your problems. It's having that self-awareness and teaching yourself that self-awareness to work through the decision tree of what am I struggling with, why do I think that is, and then from there saying, well, how would I fix it?

You try the fix. If that fix isn't working, you go back to the decision tree. Okay. Is it something else? You know, is it time of like in a, in a fishing instance, is it time of day? Is it retrieval speed? Is it the bait itself? Is it the weather? Is it whatever? And that's what I love so much about fishing is it's this constant Rubik's cube of all of the right ingredients are always there.

I got to fish [00:53:00] walleye with Dale Stro Shine last fall, and it was amazing. I learned so much from him out on, uh, green Bay, and he brought it, he put it to me this way, he said, I've been a professional fisherman for a very long time. I have fished many tournaments. I have never once seen them have to cancel a weigh in because nobody caught anything.

They're always biting. Yeah. The issue is you need to figure out what they're biting on and where they're biting, and I have taken that to heart and that kind of goes into my, it's in the details. Someone somewhere is catching something right now, and if you're not, that's where that, that. Self-honesty needs to come in and you need to start troubleshooting.

So I'd say those are my three tips. Learn, take in as much information as you can, especially when it's provided to you for free. Cuz nothing beats your firsthand knowledge, your firsthand experiences. Nothing ever will apply that information and then get detail oriented. It's possible. All of the right.

And like to go back to the Rubik's cube, the correct number of [00:54:00] colors are always on there, but what do you have to shift around to make them all line up? That's part of why fishing's fun. It's that constant mental game, that constant, I don't wanna say struggle, cuz like struggle implies that like, it's frustrating all the time and like sometimes it is frustrating, but I enjoy, I enjoy that mathematical part of it, the equation part of it.

And if you do those three things, you're gonna catch more fish. I, I truly, truly believe that. And I know that they're kind of high level things, but as we were talking off air, my favorite thing about those tips, they don't cost you a dime. You don't need that $300 Rod real combo. If you don't want it. I mean, if you want it and can afford it, go get it.

By all means. You get what you pay for a lot of time with fishing stuff, but so much of fishing and why I think it's such an excellent entry level activity for someone who might be interested in the outdoors. A lot of things you can control have nothing to do with the amount of money you've spent.

That's right. It's all about what's between your ears and I, I love that.

Josh Raley: Man. [00:55:00] Very good. Well, Nathan, thank you so much for taking the time to come on the show today. Uh, like I said earlier, I think everybody should go check out your book. Uh, where can folks find more from you? We've talked about it. We've mentioned it, but in case they haven't picked up on it so far, where can they find more?

Nathan Woelfel: You can find more at, uh, nathan wolfel That's just my name., uh, is my website. I've been getting better as we have transitioned back into being new parents into functioning adults. I've been better at getting more frequent content back on there. I, I try to shoot for once a week.

Something about hunting, fishing, birding, or a recipe. Um, Just something you'll appreciate. I know your listeners will appreciate, Josh. I just wrote an article that was kind of based on a conversation we had in November about bow hunting tips or bow hunting practice tips, I should say, about different scenarios and things to think about.

Um, when you get in, when you're getting into. You know, hunting season mode and, and different ways to look about your practice routine. So that's just an example of the kinds of articles that are on there. I do [00:56:00] reviews of products on occasion, all that good stuff's on the website. You can find me on Facebook by searching Nathan Wolfel Outdoors.

And then, um, on Instagram at n Dubs 41, um, at Nubs 41. Um, I try to post on there a few times a week as well and just share cool animal facts or fish facts or fishing tips or just. Cool things I've come across during my time in the outdoors. I try very hard to make my social media presence just an extension of what I'm already doing.

I never go out with content in mind. I just want to, because I believe, again, mother Nature provides, I'm just showing you what she provided me that day. Sure. And I, I try to share that with as many people as possible. So if you're into the outdoors, I'd like to think there's a little something out there for you.

Um, either on my pages or on my website. Awesome,

Josh Raley: man. Well, like I said, thanks for coming on the show and uh, hey, let's catch up again before Deer season rolls around.

Nathan Woelfel: Hey, that sounds great. Thank you so much for having me, Josh. I truly appreciate it.

Josh Raley: Absolutely. Anytime. That's all for this week's episode. As always, thank [00:57:00] you so much for tuning in.

If you dig this show, be sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever it is that you get your podcast. While you're at it, if you could leave me a five star review, I would very much appreciate that. You can also follow along with my outdoor adventures on Instagram at the Wisconsin Sportsman, or at how to hunt deer.

That's also the best way to get ahold of me. Suggest topics, guests, or questions that you'd like me to explore on the show. Big thanks to our partners tactic Cam. Hunt worth and OnX, please go support the brands that support this show. And if you're looking for more great outdoor content, check out the sportsmans where you'll find my other podcast, the How to Hunt Deer Podcast, as well as a ton of other awesome outdoor podcasts.

And until next time, make sure you make the time to get outside and enjoy the incredible natural resources that are ours as Wisconsin Sportsman.