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Outdoorsman Seeks Warmwater Fish Stamp

After nearly 25 seasons of running a fishing resort on Potholes Reservoir, Rod Meseberg is learning to take life a little easier.

Meseberg, 68, still loves to fish and hunt, but he’s weeding out the misery.

On one duck hunt this winter, he didn’t arrive at the duck blind on one of the reservoir’s sand dune islands until 8:30 a.m. Not exactly the textbook hour to begin a duck hunt, unless you have two savvy sons to send ahead.

Dave and Mike Meseberg had launched their jet boat at 5 a.m. to race through fog and darkness, using a compass heading and counting seconds on a watch.

“We’ve done this so much, we know the number of seconds it takes to get to the blind,” Mike had said as they snaked into the maze of islands.

The boys had erected the blind, put out several dozen decoys, filled buckets with charcoal briquettes and set up the chair of honor in the middle of the action.

“That’s for Dad,” Mike had said. “Dave will run back with the boat to get him at 8 o’clock.”

Once Rod was settled in the blind, the morning passed with long conversations about fishing trips, plus discourses on the fishing exploits of his four grandchildren.

Occasionally, he even stood up to shoot at a flight of ducks.

Meseberg was a Boeing machinist who moved into the company’s corporate offices about the time Puget Sound was getting unbearably congested.

“When we talked about moving, I remember he’d say ‘Where do we like to go? What do we like to do?”’ said Dave, who was 19 at the time.

“We’d been going to Potholes Reservoir since I was 9. We thought Mar Don Resort was a great place.”

So they bought it.

Potholes continues to be a tremendous place to fish. But just a few years ago, it was even better.

“We’ve seen a lot of fisheries declines throughout the region,” Rod Meseberg said. Besides being a handyman and businessman, he had to become a bit of a biologist and political activist.

He organized fish advisory committees and fisheries studies. He worked on a first-name basis with many state legislators and fisheries managers.

“It’s a challenge whether you’re working for or against any bureaucratic agency,” he said.

But even though he’s taking life easier these days, he still has a few pet projects, including passage of legislation to create a $5 fish stamp for warmwater fishing. Funds would be earmarked for management and a hatchery for bass, crappie and walleyes.

“I’ve been working on this for five years,” he said. “I used to be in the camp that said spinyrays didn’t need management. But I’ve been here to watch Moses Lake’s prolific crappie and largemouth bass fishery all but disappear.

With many lakes in Washington needing help, Meseberg says it’s high time there was a warmwater hatchery to boost spinyray species.

His goal is simply to improve fishing throughout the state.

“You don’t see nearly as many dads and kids coming out to fish,” Meseberg said, noting that this isn’t good for fishing, and it isn’t good for families.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo