Editor’s note: The series will be called “On The Water” and will appear periodically, featuring a local guide or fishing celebrity. It will usually be in an interview format and will be compiled by Mike Nelson, a broker at Cedar Point Realty in Walker with the support from Reed’s Family Outdoor Outfitters in Walker.
When were you born?
Sept. 27, 1962, the youngest of five boys.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the heart of the city tucked between the Minnehaha Creek and Lake Harriet. My roots for fishing, though, were born in the Cass Lake area actually. My mom and her family grew up in Cass Lake and had the bakery there until it burned down. Although her family eventually move away, the roots stayed around Cass Lake.
Two uncles fished quite a bit. One had a cabin on Little Wolf Lake, the other lived across the road from Lake Bemidji. Being the youngest of five, my parents would allow me to spend a few weeks each summer with each uncle and my cousins in my youth. Those memories at the cabin, fishing and playing around the water — that was the foundation for my passion for our natural resources.
When did your guiding career begin?
1988 was my first official guiding year. I had tried a number of odd jobs after college and struggled trying to figure out who I was ... besides being determined to make a fortune quickly so I could retire and move north. It quickly became apparent in life that it was going to take time to amass the fortune, so maybe I should go fish instead.
I was also inspired to follow my dream as my dad passed away when I was in my early 20’s and he was always going to retire but never did. He was young — in his 50’s. It was then I decided to pursue a career that was little less like work and more a lifestyle.
Describe your guiding history?
I sold everything I had plus saved money to buy the best boat I could and moved from Minneapolis to Oak Island on Lake of the Woods to guide and work at resorts. I was hooked! I loved the life; guided all species; summer and winter. Moved to Rainy Lake/Kabetogama in 1992 and eventually to Walker in fall of 1995.
What is your philosophy on fishing?
I love the sport because it can be whatever you desire. It can be a place some people relax and find their inner peace while others can look at it as competition among friends or even the fish.
Personally, I love to pursue a fish. Let me correct that, I enjoy the process of finding a certain species on any given day and enticing them to bite. Sometimes that’s a long time, a long day and may take hours, but I love the feeling when I crack the code and catch one, two, four or 10 fish after not being able to locate them and eventually find a repeatable pattern.
I love playing with presentations until the fish on my sonar cannot say no and I entice or force a fish to bite. That is what drives me. That said, I can easily enjoy a relaxing day with friends and family on the water.
How did you end up in Walker?
I was introduced to Jeff Arnold through a fishing rod sponsor around 1990 and eventually offset some of my winter guiding income working with Jeff and the Reed’s team at various sport shows across the midwest. It was on the road, in an old camo suburban pulling a horse trailer full of merchandise we talked life, business and dreams. It was a road bond built through long hours of hard work followed by more long hours of hard work.
Eventually it became obvious to my wife and I that our destiny was Walker. Jeff and Kay Arnold pitched hard for us to make the trek south to live in Walker, and so we did. After a short few weeks in town our families purchased a property together on Leech Lake and re-opened it as a resort. In its original years it was Big Leech Resort, however that had closed, so we named the property Adventure North.
We are indebted to the Arnold family for believing in us and introducing us to the community. If it wasn’t for them our lives may be quite different, and almost certainly we probably would not call this beautiful community home.
Will you share your favorite fishing tip?
I’ll give you two. First, keep moving until you find fish and don’t waste time. Catch memories from previous trips are hard not to re-live, but it’s over; move on. Second, proper jig and minnow combos are key to enticing more bites and ultimately hook-ups. For larger minnows (shiners) use a long shank jig and run the hook in the mouth, through the gill, push forward until jig head is on lips, then turn hook, push through the belly and out the back.
For smaller minnows or when you may need a bit more action out of the minnow, use a short-shanked hook such as a Fire-Ball. Then put the hook in minnow’s mouth and through top of head so the minnow’s lips run up against the head of the jig.
What is your favorite species?
All really, although I would have to say: No. 1, smallmouth bass, No. 2, walleye.
What was your most memorable day on the water?
The 2007 Fishing Opener guiding Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Leech Lake. I was so-very humbled to be chosen and yet so excited for the opportunity to show-off our fishery. Plus to have friend and legendary guide Al Maas chosen to guide Lt. Gov. Molnau topped off the honor.
Working with Al on this was surreal. Al was one of the anglers from this area who’s reputations of angling prowess was well known in fishing circles and on my radar long before I called Leech Lake home. He’s a legend.
I had got to know him after moving here and now we were chosen to guide to distinguished VIP’s with a lot of people watching.
The catch’s that day were heard loud and clear. Gov. Pawlenty caught em, Lt. Gov Molnau caught bigger ones and members of the media crushed the walleyes that day. Everyone was happy, residents, visitors, politicians and the media. I have been to a number of these events around the state and ours is known as one of the best Governor Openers in history.
Biography: Chip Leer is a 2019 Inductee into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, TV and stage host of the world’s most prestigious walleye tournament circuit, the National Walleye Tour, which airs to over 130 million households worldwide as well as the angler driving the popular digital fishing information portal, Fishing the Wildside
He has been on the forefront of sport fishing techniques, tactics and trends, working with premier manufacturers in product development while exploring cutting edge ideas fishing with the best anglers on open water and ice.
Over his 30-plus year career, Chip has been the tournament director of the In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail, TV host of the FLW Walleye Tour, co-host of In-Fisherman Ice Guide TV, published in numerous regional and national publications, appeared on countless radio programs and has shared his knowledge and passion for fishing through his brand, Fishing the Wildside.