Most people from this area only know the Pine River as a sign and a river they cross on US 127, as they go north for the weekend. They don't know of how polluted it was at one time because of toxic waste that had seeped into it from a now defunct facility in St. Louis, Michigan.

Most people don't know that St. Louis, MI is also know as "The Middle of the Mitten" due to it's geographical location in our State.

Those were all things that I learned from a great man by the name of Joe Scholtz. Joe worked for the school system in St. Louis and was an avid angler and outdoorsman. He and friend Murray Borello worked tirelessly to bring attention to the Pine River and the city in which it flowed through. Joe wanted kids to fish and play along it's banks without fear of toxic poisoning.

Along the way, Joe founded the first "Free Fish Derby" along with other folks that helped him gather prizes for the event to be held during the Free Fishing Weekend in Michigan. The opportunity to compete at no cost for a license or entry fees was his goal and it was achieved. The derby grew and the numbers increased over the next couple of years. Joe even won the bid for Mayor of the fine city of which he loved so much.

Sadly, Joe passed away in September of 2011, leaving behind a legacy of stewardship and a love for all persons to be able to fish and recreate without worry on the beautiful Pine River.

Today, the derby bears his name as the Joe Scholtz Memorial Free Fish Derby and will be held on June 10, during the free fishing weekend in Michigan. Licenses will not be required residents to fish Michigan waters this weekend and I would encourage anyone who could, to be a part of Joe's amazing legacy. A great friend that I will forever miss.

Click Here To Register! :Joe Scholtz Memorial Free Fish Derby!