Club History

The Founding of the Capital City Chapter of Muskies, Inc.

The founding of the Capital City Chapter of Muskies, Inc happened in the early 1980s by three men, Bill Wood, Steve Budnik, and Gilbert Nimm. Steve and Gil read an article in In-Fisherman magazine and Bill happened into it, more on that later.

The issue that got things going was the In-Fisherman magazine issue #38 in August/September 1981 in the “Faces & Places” section where they featured Muskies, Inc. founder, Gil Hamm. Gil founded Muskies, Inc. in 1976 in Twin Cities and one project was raising muskies in Battle Creek Minnesota for stocking area lakes. Both Steve and Gilbert called Gil Hamm asking about a chapter in Madison, Wisconsin.

In that same time frame, Bill Wood ran into veteran muskie angler, Mike Cookas at the Wannigan, a watering hole on the Chippewa River near Winter, WI. Bill and Mike never met, but both would write their muskie releases on a display board that hung on the wall at the Rustic Resort on the shores of Lake Winter and for a good while, they kept missing each other as they placed their names on the board with releases from Lake Winter. Then one day they both were in the Wannigan and they struck up a conversation and found out that the other was placing a lot of muskie releases on the Rustic muskie board. Then as friendship happens, they started fishing together and one day Bill went to Mike’s cabin to go fishing, Mike not being ready asked Bill to step inside and Bill noticed several issues of “MUSKIE”, the official publication of Muskies, Inc. on his coffee table. Bill then asked Mike about the magazine. It turns out Mike was a member of the Chicagoland Chapter. Bill called Gil Hamm asking about forming a chapter in Madison, WI. Gil put him in touch with Steve and Gilbert.

So a call went out for an organizational meeting on February 26th, 1983 at the Quality Inn on Madison’s south-east side. Some of the charter members were already Muskies, Inc members of either Hayward Lakes, Lakeland, or Eagle River chapters. At that meeting besides, Bill Wood, Steve Budnik, and Gilbert Nimm were Will Durant, Gary GarboMahr, Mike Theis, Tom Mickelson, Dean Tibstra, and Don Borchert. Bill Wood was elected President, Steve Budnik as VP, Mike Theis as Treasurer, Gilbert Nimm was Regional VP and later Sylvia Potempa came on board as Secretary. Also present at the organizational meeting from the national organization was Kermit Benson (1st WI Chapter – Chippewa Falls) and Dick and Diane Petzke (Milwaukee Chapter).

In the following months the Capital City Chapter would meet in the basement of Stevens Bar and then in the mid 1985 moved to Ruby’s at South Towne. Some of the other places in the early years that have been our meeting places were Jingle’s Coliseum Bar, Jingle’s on the River, Park Ponderosa in McFarland. We currently hold our meetings at the 5100 Bar in McFarland, which was the formerly the Park Ponderosa Ballroom.