In Tribute To Leo Petrouske

Leo Paul Petrouske was born near Milwaukee, in Wausaukee, Wisconsin on April 11, 1911. Leo eventually settled in Racine with his wife, Dorothy, and together they had two children, Leo Jr. and Dorothy, during the late 1930’s. Up until World War II, Leo worked for the Gold Metal Company in Racine, where they produced a variety of wood products like cabinets. With the coming of the war the company shifted over to the production of army cots.

In 1943, Leo and his wife divorced and, figuring he was bound to be drafted, Leo then entered the United States Maritime Service, a branch of the United States Navy. Upon completion of his training at Mobile, Alabama, Leo shipped out and worked as an engineer on an oil tanker during the war years. The tanker that Leo served on traversed many hazardous waters into order to refuel our fighting ships and was a prime target of enemy submarines. In 1949, Leo was appointed to the rank of Lieutenant in the U. S. Maritime Service. After the war, the U. S. Maritime Service evolved into the Merchant Marines and ceased being a branch of the U. S. military. Leo stayed on with the Merchant Marines until his retirement in 1973, working for various steamship lines hauling cargo all over the world.

Leo Petrouske began muskie fishing on the Chippewa Flowage perhaps as early as the late 1940’s, out of Lovetree’s Resort on Cranberry Lake. He also fished the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage and a number of other lakes in the North Country for a time, but by the mid 1950’s, the Flowage had become his favorite place. Although Leo started out with only a few weeks of vacation (shore leave) each year, he eventually was able to schedule most of the summer off for his muskie fishing. By the late 1950’s, Leo had become a regular at Indian Trail Resort, putting in the first trailer at the resort. During the summers, he would keep his trailer along the edge of the road just above Cabin #1. Leo soon became known as one of the Trail’s main muskie men. In fact, from 1961 thru 1964, Leo was the number one muskie producer out of Indian Trail.

When back at sea during the long winter months, Leo passed the time by making surface lures to use on his upcoming muskie trips. He named his concoctions after his grandchildren: the Dottie Pet, Terrie Pet, Davie Pet, and the Pet Special. Not afraid to try something different, Leo’s lure selection ran the whole gambit: from surface baits to bucktails and from pikie minnows to suckers. He once commented that he had probably tied into and lost more muskies on a Heddon Flaptail than with any other lure. Although he had a hard time passing up the prime muskie spots like Church, the Sticks area, or West and East Cranberry, Leo did have a number of hidden little spots that he liked to fish. As with his fellow muskie hunters and drinking buddies Frenchy LaMay and Walt Roman, Leo fished hardest during the morning and evenings. But when it came down to both lure selection and the type of spots he fished, Leo was probably the more versatile of his compatriots.

In 1968, after Howie & Wanda Hornewer sold Indian Trail, Leo moved his trailer to Ann Mooney’s Indian Post Resort and, along with his brother Pete, the two quickly became part of the family there. Leo continued catching muskies out of Mooney’s until a stroke around 1973 slowed him down. Leo’s last big muskie catch was a 28˝ pounder on August 12, 1972. Between 1959 and thru 1972, Leo had personally caught fifty-eight legal muskies, ten of which were over 20 pounds.

Leo eventually set up his trailer at his son’s resort, Sandy Beach Resort, on Round Lake, but later moved to Florida . On July 22, 1977, Leo Petrouske passed away as a result of stomach cancer at the age of 66 in Pompano Beach, Florida.