In Tribute To Rich Bartlett

Richard Duane Bartlett, born in Augusta, Wisconsin, on March 23, 1934, first came up to the Chippewa Flowage with his grandfather in 1946. They rented a boat and 3 horsepower Hiawatha motor from Herman’s Landing and ventured to the west end of the Flowage where they camped for a few days. At twelve years of age, young Rich marveled at the wilds and expanse of the Flowage. Recalling all of the dead trees which stuck up out of the water in many places, Rich said, "We’d tie up to those trees and that’s where we’d get our walleyes."

Upon graduating from high school in 1952, Rich took some schooling in the heating field and worked installing furnaces and delivering bottle gas for two years. Rich married Joyce Stelter in 1954, and they went on to have three children, Susan, Becky, and Tony. In 1956, Rich went to work for Roberts Foods, delivering food to stores and restaurants within a 100 mile radius of Eau Claire. There he met a man named Duane Schreiner (or "Scratch" as his friends called him) who had been muskie fishing on the Chippewa Flowage for some time. A quick friendship developed between the two and it wasn’t long before they were making regular day fishing trips nearly every Saturday to go fishing on the Flowage.

They’d leave Eau Claire as early as 3 a. m., would rent a boat from either Shady Nook or Indian Trail, and they would fish for muskies all day–catching fish for shore lunch when they’d get hungry. Sometimes if the pickings were slim and they couldn’t get any walleye to eat, a small muskie would find its way into the frying pan. On June 8, 1957, while fishing with Rich, "Scratch" caught a 33 pound muskie on a black bucktail in Cranberry Lake–not far from the big beaver house. During that same time frame, Rich remembers having one follow his yellow Billy Finn that was nearly five feet long!

Rich and Scratch would sometimes stay in a camper they would park by the boat launch at Indian Trail. In 1963, Rich began bringing his family up to the Indian Trail, staying in one of the cabins that year. For the next several years, they stayed in a small trailer they had parked where Pat’s house today stands. They stayed in a camper in the trailer court during the early 1970’s, and in 1975, put a trailer in up there. In 1982, Rich and Joyce put in an even larger trailer and have been there ever since. Rich, a guest of Indian Trail for over forty years now, holds the honorary title of Mayor of the Hill.

After Roberts Foods went out of business in 1986, Rich drove truck for a while, and then he went on to work as a maintenance man for the Eau Claire school system until retiring in 1997. Although he spends most of his time on the water walleye fishing these days, Rich Bartlett has caught his share of muskies over the past four decades. Beginning in 1963, Rich has been a consistent presence on the Indian Trail muskie charts, putting 66 muskies into his boat since he started. He has taken a number of muskies over 20 pounds and, on September 12, 1986, he caught, tagged, and released a 45½ inch long, 26 pound class muskie on a Hawg Wobbler on Fleming’s Bar. At the time it was the largest muskie ever caught and released out of Indian Trail Resort.