Scott Stuerman walks past a group of senior ice anglers, sitting out on a lake on a warm late winter day.
The men are sitting on buckets and sharing stories, razzing each other and enjoying the camaraderie of fishing friends.
“Wouldn’t you just love to sit and talk to those guys?” asks Stuerman. “I bet they have some good fishing stories.”
Stuerman has the gift of gab. A gregarious extrovert, Stuerman loves talking fishing and hunting with anyone that will listen.
Early in Stuerman’s career, he would deliver water for Culligan but had to be careful to not be too talkative with customers so he could make his route on time. One of the customers, Pat McCarty, would get Scott going in talking about deer hunting. Stuerman and McCarty’s daughter would joke that they needed their own talk show, “Deer Chat with Scott and Pat.”
The idea of an outdoors program started to grow legs. Podcasts started becoming mainstream, and Stuerman knew he wanted in.
Fishing buddy and fellow Rock Rapids, Iowa, native Matt Deutsch was a logical choice, and the pair decided to give podcasting a try.
Stuerman bought microphones, a mixer and cords on Amazon, the basic equipment needed for startup. Youtube and another amateur podcaster showed Stuerman the ropes of equipment operation, and all that was left was needing a name.
‘Fish Chat with Scott and Matt’ came up, but eventually the duo went with ‘The Midwest Angler’ podcast and decided to focus exclusively on fishing.
“The clouds parted and the angels started blaring on their trumpets and a star was born” Stuerman jokes with a smile.
Stuerman and Deutsch started podcasting in November of 2018. At first, the pair just discussed whatever came up. They offered to meet guests on location before learning how to link up telephone calls with guests.
Over time, they built a repertoire of recurring themes: Guests are asked random questions at the start of an interview, the show closes with good news stories, and the fan base has received their own listening audience moniker – the “dirtbags.”
Now, 112 episodes later, the pair has a following, generating over a thousand listens a week. “Dirtbag” listeners have enjoyed Stuerman’s and Deutsch’s banter back and forth, teasing about fishing successes and failures, discussing inane issues in the world of fishing, some being more controversial than others, and interviewing a wide and diverse swath of anglers from across the Midwest.
Past guests include ice fishing pioneer Dave Genz, Youtube Angler Sam Sobiek, Fish Addictions host Mike Olson, Woman Anglers of Minnesota vice president Stephanie Lawson and National Walleye Tour champion John Hoyer.
Deutsch and Stuerman have found the right chemistry. Stuerman is the rambler and jokester, while Deutsch colors in the lines and brings a strong technical angling side, largely rooted in his time fishing in bass tournaments.
Like other entertaining shows before them, they play well together and can play off each other discussing anything and everything in the world of fishing.
The hardest thing for Stuerman and Deutsch is scheduling. Stuerman has a day job, a wife and three children, including an infant, and serves on the Rock Rapids Volunteer Fire Department. Deutsch is a physical education teacher, basketball coach and is happily married.
Besides trying to get the two men together on varying schedules, adding a third person as a guest adds additional complexity.
While The Midwest Angler is not monetized, the payoff has been in the experience.
“We’ve had the chance to form relationships with people we wouldn’t have otherwise known,” says Stuerman. “After a while, you look at the list of guests and the topics you’ve covered, and it’s really pretty incredible. It’s fun to walk up to people you’ve had on the show and shake their hands. You truly do get to know them.
“A high school classmate messaged me that he had been on a fishing trip with his brother, who is a fishing guide in North Dakota. He had googled walleye fishing on Spotify, and our show popped up. He listened in as he made the drive to visit his brother. It’s pretty cool to hear a story like that and to hear that people are listening to you.”
Scott Mackenthun is an outdoors enthusiast who has been writing about hunting and fishing since 2005. He resides in New Prague and may be contacted at email@example.com.