He knows Minnesota is a walleye state. “But I’m completely into bluegills; I catch walleyes accidentally.’’
“I catch a lot of crappies,’’ Erbeck said. “Yesterday I caught twice as many crappies as bluegills.’’
He doesn’t use minnows. “I use a white plastic twister tail, or a couple of waxworms,’’ Erbeck said. Sometimes he jigs or casts his lure, sometimes he uses a bobber and still-fishes.
Regardless, he’s on the water about twice a week, year-round.
“I limit myself to lakes right in the Twin Cities,’’ he said. He figures he’s fished about 40 metro lakes.
“I make one exception: Lake Osakis. That’s my nirvana,’’ Erbeck said. “Just like walleye fishermen go to Mille Lacs, I go to Osakis. I know some spots and I catch some really big bluegills.
“I furnish cleaned, fileted fish for all my friends and my big extended family.’’
His advice: ‘Stay active’
Erbeck spent most of his life in Wisconsin. He was born in Superior, grew up near Green Bay and, after becoming a veterinarian, operated two small-animal hospitals and a clinic in the Chippewa Falls-Eau Claire area.
“At age 50, I felt I was getting behind what was happening in medicine, so I went back to school and got a Ph.D. in veterinary pathology, which took me to Kentucky,’’ he said.
Where he got hooked on panfish. “People there were really into crappies, and I started fishing for them and found huge bluegills,’’ Erbeck said.
He moved to Minnesota 12 years ago and did cancer research, then retired three years ago — only to go into the tackle-making business with two partners, son-in-law Stone and daughter Amy.
Erbeck is a member of the Minnesota Distance Runners Association, and ran a half-marathon this spring in 2 hours, 23 minutes. “At my age, I was happy with it,’’ he said. “I think running has helped my health and mental well-being.’’
He also has an understanding partner. “My wife, Faye, has supported my fishing and hunting all 53 years of our marriage,’’ Erbeck said. They have three daughters and nine grandchildren.
And a fledgling business.
“I’m just having fun in life, I really am,’’ Erbeck said.
His advice to retirees: “Be active, have fun … and go fishing.’’