In Tribute To Jim Schoettle

James Alfred Schoettle was born on February 9, 1932, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. With Jim’s father dying when he was about five years old, the difficult task of providing for her seven children fell to Jim’s mother. Times were so tough, Jim’s mother would often send her boys out hunting for their dinner. Gordy Roholt, who (along with his father) ran a store across the street from the Schoettle’s home, took the Schoettle children under his wing and ended up giving most of them jobs.

Gordy especially took a liking to Jim, who was a very hard worker. Jim was in high school when Gordy began taking him up to Callahan Lake to go muskie fishing. It wasn’t long before Jim wanted to go to the Chippewa Flowage, which he had heard so much about. It was around 1949 when Gordy first brought Jim to the Flowage, renting a cedar strip boat from Indian Trail. Jim immediately fell in love with this special place and soon became addicted to muskie fishing. In fact, he wouldn’t go after anything else.

After Jim graduated in 1950, he enlisted in the Coast Guard, starting out as a gunner’s mate and later becoming a gun fire control technician, working with the radar and computers that controlled the ship’s gunfire. Jim, who served as a first class petty officer, loved the sea. One time, while most everyone else was seasick, it fell upon Jim to bring in to port the 83 foot patrol boat that he was serving on. Jim also served on a 327 foot, secretary class gunship named the "Gresham," based out of Alameda, California. That ship patrolled the coast for submarines and went out on weather patrol.

After Jim served 3 years active duty in the Guard, he got a job in the computer division at the Uniroyal Tire plant in Eau Claire. During his vacation, Jim would be up at Indian Trail… muskie fishing as often as possible. Two sisters, Elsie and Grace Hornewer, ran the place then, and Jim lent them a helping hand whenever he could. Jim and Elsie grew to become very close friends.

In 1958, Grace wanted out of the resort so she sold her interest in the place to Ray & Evelyn Hornewer. That didn’t pan out, so after the season, Grace ended up getting the resort back. For some reason she didn’t want to sell her half of the resort to Elsie, so she "gave" it to Jim, telling him that he could pay her when he could afford it. Knowing how much Elsie loved the place, Jim was hesitant to take the resort under those circumstances; but Elsie said, "No, you take it. I couldn’t have a better partner." So from 1959 thru 1962, Elsie and Jim ran Indian Trail together.

Keeping his full time job at Uniroyal in Eau Claire, Jim commuted to the resort on weekends and whenever his plant would go on strike. He fished whenever he could, but it wasn’t nearly as often as he wished. Because the hectic pace eventually got to Jim and literally gave him ulcers, he and Elsie sold to Howie and Wanda Hornewer in 1963, agreeing to stay on to help during that first year.

Having a bit more time to fish, Jim caught 7 muskies that season, with his biggest one weighing in at 23 pounds. Actually, it weighed a bit less than that. Jim’s girl friend, Jeanne, who also worked at the resort, had caught a nice 22 pound muskie while fishing with Leo Petrouske that August. Two weeks later, Jim caught a muskie which he knew was close to the same size. Not wanting to be outdone by a woman, Jim secretly filled his muskie with water before he weighed it, beating Jeanne’s fish by one pound.

In 1964, Jim put in a mobile home at Mooney’s Indian Post Resort, fishing out of there for another 6 or 7 years. Between 1959 and thru 1969, Jim caught 41 muskies out of Indian Trail and Indian Post. Jim Schoettle was known to do some guiding on occasion, and the suick was his favorite lure. Some years later, Jim moved to Cerro Gordo, Illinois, but there always remained a soft spot in his heart for the serenity of the Chippewa Flowage and the memories of his years at Indian Trail.

On July 5, 2002, Jim Schoettle passed away at the age of 70 after a bout with cancer.