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Corey Clark and his dog Duke.
Corey Clark and his dog Duke. / Corey Clark/For


They usually start out as our family pet. With a little work they begin to develop into hunting machines with a passion to please their master and bring back the latest duck or pheasant that was just brought down with a beautiful shot from your most trusted shotgun. The bond some of us share with our dogs out in the field is a story in itself.

Well I have the privilege of not only spending days hunting in the field with my yellow lab Duke, but he has become one of my greatest fishing partners.

Duke is a 4 1/2 year old yellow lab who has brought some of the slowest days of fishing for me to a day full of smiles and laughs. Itís always an adventure thatís for sure.

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Dukes fishing days started 2 years ago when I had just bought my new boat. I wanted to take a quick ride down the Fox River just to get it out. The ice on the landing had opened up maybe 2 days prior. So Duke jumped up in the truck and I figured, "Why not?"

As we were going down the river we came to one of my favorite river fishing areas for early walleyes. I grabbed a rod out of the storage box and slipped on a gulp minnow for a quick first cast out of the new rig. As luck would have it the walleyes were stacked up and I started hauling them in, one after another. Duke joined me in the front of the boat with his ears perked up and muscles twitching. I knew it was just a matter of time before he went in after a fish I had returned to the river.

Well after about an hour or so of fishing I figured I better be on my way. I dropped my jig one last time and instantly a nice walleye slammed it. I brought the fish to the boat side and began to flip it into the boat like I had all the others. All of a sudden the fish kicked and my jig left his mouth. Before I knew what was going on Duke was in the air and with a quick snip he has the walleye in his mouth. I couldnít help but bust out laughing, as I helped him back in the boat with the walleye trying to free itself from his jaws.

That was the start of it. Now sometimes I wonder what he likes more. Hunting or fishing. I donít get him out in the boat with me all that much, but come winter time he is with me just about every time I hit the hardwater. He gets in the way a lot, and I have lost some really nice fish because of it, but it sure is worth it. Iíve never seen a dog that can be in a deep sleep or running around outside the shack, and as soon as he hears the drag slip on a hookset, his nose is at the hole waiting for the fish to appear.

Through the years I have made some great fishing buddies. But none give me the laughs that good ol Duke can. Itís always a great adventure when Iím with my ďman's best fishing partner.Ē

Corey Clark is a life long resident of Wisconsin and avid outdoorsman. On the water or in the woods is where his passion lies.

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