Steve 'Zippy' Dahl: Fishing Guide
“If you aren’t marking anything you know to move and keep looking and the hunt begins. To us as fishing guides, finding the fish is more rewarding than the catch, honestly.”
Coined as some of the most mobile guide in the industry, the guides behind Perch Patrol never stop hunting for the best places to catch fish on Devils Lake, the “Perch Capitol of the World.” Steve “Zippy” Dahl, Dave Tronson and Jim Legacy all started their guiding careers around the same time. The three came together in partnership and Perch Patrol was born. “When we first started, we guided maybe three days out of 20. We did it to put gas in our trucks, so we could go fishing every day. And it just kind of grew and grew and grew. Now I have 10 guides that rely on it for a living.”
Zippy’s love of fishing began with his grandpa taking him out. “I think he hooked a northern on my hook and casted it back out there and told me I better go check this rod, and yeah, he tricked me. But I was pretty excited,” Zippy explains. The excitement continues because of the day-to-day hunt, the changing technology and well over two decades of relearning a lake that has grown by about a 35-foot vertical rise. Zippy describes, “Just imagine how many acres that has encompassed and spread out over time. The lake has really quadrupled in size.”
In addition to relearning the lake and hunting for the best places to fish, Zippy has invested in building partnerships all over the community. He’s created a one-stop shop for customers looking to book a trip with the lodging, meals and guide services included. “We’ve always had a package out of Woodlands (Resort). We also have another one out of Sleep Inn and Suites. We wanted to make things simple for people to come.” That dedication to the client and genuine love of the area shows. Zippy adds, “In my career, I think I’m up to nine clients that have packed up and just moved here. They fell in love with it.”
Day in and day out, there’s no place he’d rather be. “I run on adrenaline. It’s just the thrill of everything — the looking for fish, the working with clients, the building relationships — it’s just a full day of fun really," Zippy says.
- For a place to stay: Woodlands Resort and Sleep Inn and Suites
- For a place to eat: Proz End of the Line, Proz Lakeside, Charras & Tequila, Roma’s Italian Bistro and the “all-you-can-eat broasted chicken for $8 in Calio," Zippy says. "You don’t get that in Chicago, Illinois.”