Hardcore Walleye Champion: Dan Stier
May 6th, 2014 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified May 6th, 2014 at 12:00 AM
Dan Stier was one of the guys I thought of who “has it bad” when I wrote Twenty Signs of Obsessive Compulsive Fishing Disorder (an excerpt noted below and featured in my book with Bill Miller, Reflections Under the Big Pine ). In fact, in Dan’s case I would add #21: When the tournament director calls a blow day for a fishing tournament, you ask if it is okay to still just go out fishing for fun.
Meet the South Dakota-based, hardcore walleye pro who just won his sixth walleye tournament at the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour Detroit River tournament-Dan Stier.
A tried-and-true walleye champion, Dan Stier has captured Angler of the Year honors (PWT 2008) and Champion status (FLW in 2011) as well as numerous individual event titles and top ten finishes. “Winning the Wave Wacker tournament back in 1994 was probably the biggest win for me,” said Stier. “It may not seem like it now, but back in those days that was a big tournament with all the names in it; guys like Roach and Lindner. Winning that was probably the biggest win for me.”
Guiding and fishing professional walleye tournaments has been Dan Stier’s full time work since 1996. Although guiding part time since 1981 in high school, and later while working for UPS, his bosses eventually said Stier needed to choose between UPS and fishing. “That was the easiest decision of my life,” quipped Stier. “I have never looked back.” Dan has one daughter named Amanda and two stepsons: Travis and Shawn. He and his wife Carmen live in Mina, South Dakota.
Stier attended Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and graduated with a teaching degree and a coaching minor in 1986. He was an All-American baseball pitcher, and moved on to the minor leagues and played in Seattle for a couple of years. “It wasn’t a great way to provide for my family back then, I hardly made any money,” said Stier. “I continued to play amateur baseball in South Dakota’s local tournaments.” In 1987 Dan Stier was the South Dakota Amateur Athlete of the Year-and it was for baseball not walleye fishing.
Stier, now 50 years old, loves “hands-on” walleye fishing the most-jigging and rigging-and chasing the dream competing in tournaments. But the part that gets his adrenaline really going is watching other people catch fish. Stier guides more than 100 days per year. “Guiding is busy for me because I explain a lot of things and I teach a lot in the boat,” said Stier. “I show them how the little differences make big differences. I find that the most rewarding.” Stier is sponsored by Ranger Boats, Evinrude, Vicious, Lowrance, New Evarts Resort, Millenium Home Improvements and Swanson Bait and Tackle. Stier mostly guides on Lake Oahe, but will go wherever his clients want to fish. “I think Oahe is my favorite fishery because no matter the time of the year, you can get on fish every day there. Every day.”
Just about the time Stier gets walleye fishing figured out, the fish pull a 180 and have him scratching his head. “If I ever finish low in a tournament, I am back out on the water the next day trying to get it right,” said Stier. “A lot of guys have given me a hard time for going back out the next day, but I have to figure it out before I leave.”
Perhaps the professional walleye ranks needs to be thankful that the standard for baseball pitchers was tall and lanky back in ’87 and ’88. This 5’10” baseball pitcher didn’t have quite what they wanted in the major leagues; turns out it was perfect for becoming a champion walleye angler.
A true professional, someone who works at Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Gander Mountain, or your local bait shop, is best qualified to confirm an OCFD diagnosis. Here are the top 20 signs to look for:
1. Your Facebook profile picture is you holding a fish.
2. The first selection criteria for home purchase or rental is the perfect and permanent spot for the boat and trailer.
3. You think about fishing every five minutes or less.
4. You have a closet full of logo’d shirts, sweatshirts and hats with your favorite fishing and boat brands.
5. If you live north of the 41st parallel, you own a winter version of that wardrobe with ice fishing brands, too.
6. Regardless of the climate that you live in, your jacket has a boat brand logo on it.
7. You match your truck to your boat and trailer.
8. You have bins and bins (and tubs and tubs) of crankbaits-and still buy more.
9. You speak in code. For example: “We put the beat on some slabs yesterday.” Your friends understand your code. Your spouse’s friends don’t.
10. If you are single you’re not sure the right person is worth giving up time on the water.
11. Vacation days are for fishing, as are holidays, weekends, and when one lives in close proximity to a great fishery, the time in between sleeping.
12. You will sleep in your truck at a boat landing, especially after driving all night after work to get there. You might have a mattress in the back for just such occasions.
13. You have shunned people from your family circle because they didn’t know who KVD was.
14. If you ever fished a tournament, regardless of where you finished, you looked to see who you did better than, and you’re okay finishing in the bottom half as long as you did better than a past champion.
15. You watch live-stream tournament weigh-ins and if something goes wrong with the stream you post on a fishing chat forum and ask what’s wrong with the live stream.
16. Your fishing chat forum name is tied to your boat or your favorite species to fish.
17. Double headers are not about baseball.
18. You use SPF 50, yet you have suntan raccoon eyes from your polarized sunglasses.
19. You love Rapala billboards, but you may or may not say “Rapala” correctly.
20. You are never bored. There are always hooks to sharpen and reels to respool.