In Tribute To Al McElroy

Allan Bernard McElroy was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, on June 11, 1948. After graduating from high school in 1966, Al attended one year of vocational school and then began working for the Presto Company in Eau Claire in 1967. Presto, which had been closed down and use to manufacture pressure cookers and outboard motors, reopened with the coming of the Viet Nam War and was manufacturing artillery shells at the time.

The first time Al stayed at Indian Trail he was only 16 years old (it was 1964) and he camped by the beach. He remembers seeing the muskie chart at the resort and how the muskie men were so much into their pursuit. It intrigued him, so he figured that he’d come back and try his hand at muskie fishing. Al returned to the Flowage around 1968, getting a trailer at Big Musky Resort but hanging out at the bar at the Trail’s most nights. The next season he moved his trailer over to Indian Trail, coming most weekends and during his vacation time to fish muskies.

Although Al had done some muskie fishing in his home waters near Eau Claire, the Flowage is where he really got started chasing muskies. Al caught his first muskie out of Indian Trail in 1970. He learned much from fishing with Frenchy, Walt, and Indian guides Jackie Hollen and Chick DeBrot, who would take him out at no charge. Al would invite Jackie and Chick to fish along with him, but they usually declined and would just row him around.

Al recalled of those times, "We’d get a fair amount of action during the mid day, usually on bucktails, but the most consistent time we caught our muskies was around 8 or 9 o’clock in the evening. There was hardly anyone doing any night fishing. Heck, you’d have to get back in by dark if you wanted to get a bar stool in the tavern. Sometimes though, Jackie would run one of us down to Turkey’s Bar to try for "Freight Train," and it was usually at night that we’d go. I remember hearing Freight Train come after our lure one night and every time its tail would swish the water, it sounded like a freight train charging our lure." Freight Train was said to have been a world record fish.

Al said that it was probably at that time that the Flowage was actually at its worst for producing big fish. But he did say, "We seemed to get a lot more follows then, and we did see some really big fish… but a lot of those fish would just nip or wouldn’t hit at all. I remember one time seeing a muskie follow my Globe on Jerry’s that Jackie thought would go 50 pounds." In 1971, Al caught ten legal muskies in one season out of Indian Trail, tying the resort record for catching the most muskies in one season. Al shared this title with Leo Petrouske (1961), Walter J. Roman (1965), and Frenchy LaMay (1970)… a record which stood until Fred Hirsch caught 15 legal muskies in 1978.

In 1973, Al sold his trailer and began exploring other muskie waters like Rainy Lake and Bone Lake, coming back to fish the Flowage on occasion during the mid 1970’s. Al, also a fine walleye fisherman, now has hundreds of muskies to his credit and is also known for hand carving his own unique wooden lures which sport very realistic paint jobs that closely resemble a muskie. He also makes his own bucktails. Al McElroy married Nancy in 1977, and together they have two children, Patrick and Christine. Al, who now works out of his home in Weston, Wisconsin, works as a service engineer for Tyler Refrigeration, a company he’s been with for 25 years now.