In Tribute To Don Soukup

Donald F. Soukup was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 6, 1931. In 1950 and 1951, Don served as a Corporal (he was given a field commission as a Sergeant) in the U. S. Marines in Korea. In 1953, he married Marion Haertel, and together they have two children, Brad and Karen. After getting out of the service, Don managed a bowling alley for about 6 years, from 1963 to 1983 he worked as a sales manager for McGarvey Coffee, and in 1983 he started his own coffee company (Ark Coffee Company), which he ran until retiring in 1993.

Don & Marion first came up to Indian Trail Resort in 1967, during Howie & Wanda Hornewer’s last year, parking a small trailer down near the boat launch while they were up. The following year, they moved their trailer up to the trailer court, replacing it with a better one the next season. The Soukup’s later upgraded twice more into larger trailers.

Although it took him a couple of years before he caught his first muskie, Don was hard at it muskie fishing right from the get-go. He ended up catching his first one, a nice 18 pounder, on September 5, 1970, on a crackle Globe on Fleming’s Bar while fishing with Al McElroy, an eager, young muskie fisherman that Don had met at the resort. From then on, Don (and his family) came up to his trailer from Minneapolis nearly every weekend, quickly becoming a consistent muskie fishing presence on the Flowage.

A shoreline corner on the southeast end of the Cranberry Narrows was named after Don by the gang at the Trail’s during the early 1970’s. Soukup’s Point, as the spot came to be known, was where Don dealt with a 30 pound plus muskie that so savagely attacked his lure that it ripped the rod and reel right out of his hands. Don happened to be fishing with Jim Burns’ brother at the time. As his rod went skipping across the seats of his boat, Don somehow managed to grab it with one hand just as it was about to get pulled over the bow. Don saw that fish a couple of other times afterwards, and from then on… the spot was known as Soukup’s Point.

During the work week, when Don wasn’t up on the Flowage, he let Jackie Hollen use his boat to fish or guide out of anytime he needed it. In return, Jackie would take Don out fishing on the weekends, whenever he wasn’t booked for guiding. Don and Jackie became good friends and a regular fishing team on the water, spending many good years fishing walleye, panfish, and muskie.

Two huge muskies that Don had seen over the years especially stick out in his memory. On October 6, 1979, while fishing with his friend Norm Osborn on Weedy Shore, Don tied into the biggest muskie he ever had on, using a quick set sucker rig. He had the fish hooked and saw it swim right alongside the boat before it got off. Don recalled, "I know for a fact that fish was over 50 pounds." That same night John Dettloff happened onto that same huge muskie, in the same spot, and he had it on a single hook sucker rig. When it hit his sucker, John noticed the fish to be nearly five feet long. The muskie eventually coughed up the sucker and John also lost him.

Don once saw an even longer muskie while fishing in the pool below the Winter Dam with Jim Jensen. As Don was casting out into the pool, he noticed this huge fish slowly swim right by his feet. Don has caught 63 muskies out of Indian Trail between 1970 and thru 1987, with his largest being a 25 pounder that he caught in October of 1987. Don and Marion sold their trailer at Indian Trail around 1988 and bought a larger one at Big Musky Resort, staying there until they bought a house on the Chippewa River in 1996. Although Don Soukup can usually be found frequenting the Chippewa River for bass or muskie, on occasion he still does put in on the Flowage… to chase the big ones and relive old memories.