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Wisconsin teen bringing expertise to Chicago Muskie Show

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Mrs. Evans should be proud of her teaching.

When Jacob Stankowski was in sixth grade, one of his projects was to give a speech. He did it on muskie fishing and earned an A-plus.

It was three months before the Milwaukee Muskie Expo that year. His dad, Jason, helped him get a shot at a seminar there. And Mrs. Evans added more magic.

‘‘She really helped perfect my speech, work on eye contact,’’ Stankowski said. ‘‘I still use those things today.’’

Stankowski, now 15 and a sophomore at Waukesha (Wis.) West High School, has become a prodigy in the muskie world as part of Musky Brothers Outdoors. He will make his Illinois debut this week at the Chicago Muskie Show at Harper College in Palatine. Show season begins this week with the muskie show, the All-Canada Show and the Hammond Outdoor Sports Show.

Stankowski will be part of the kids’ focus at the muskie show, helping with the casting clinic at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and giving a seminar, ‘‘Muskie Fishing: A Kid’s View,’’ at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. His strategy in the seminar is to make it work for adults and children alike.

‘‘On the parents’ side, I talk about how to capture kids’ attention and get them into muskie fishing,’’ Stankowski said. ‘‘Kids will learn the basics of muskie fishing.’’

These are things he knows.

‘‘My dad has been muskie fishing forever,’’ Stankowski said. ‘‘I have been fishing since I was 2 or 3. I started muskie fishing at 6. I live about 10 minutes from Pewaukee Lake. I know the secret spots, so it is pretty good.’’

He knows himself and will be able to help others.

‘‘I am really like twitch baits,’’ Stankowski said. ‘‘I can’t stay focused if I am just reeling in a bucktail.’’

He likes to teach walk-the-dog baits, which take a little bit of skill to learn but are fun to use once mastered. His best muskie so far, a 47-incher, came from Lake of the Woods last year.

Stankowski’s education continues on many levels. He would like to attend the University of Wisconsin.

‘‘I am not expecting a full-blown scholarship,’’ he said. ‘‘I stopped [playing] football. I love football, but it got in the way of fishing.’’

As it is for many teens, the whole world is out there in front of him.

‘‘Either that, or I would like to start a band,’’ said Stankowski, who plays the guitar, the bass and the drums.

All of that brings us full circle.

‘‘I tell it every year: Follow your dreams,’’ he said. ‘‘It may not work the first or second time, but if you work at it, things can happen.’’

He’s walking proof.

Stray cast

The difference between a couple of snow days with the family and a fishing trip with buddies is that you always can walk out into the wilds from fishing camp.

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